back to article Tougher rules on targeted ads, deepfakes, crafty web design, and more? Euro lawmakers give a thumbs up

The European Parliament has adopted a set of amendments to the Digital Services Act (DSA) that makes the pending legislation even more protective of personal privacy and requires businesses to give greater consideration to advertising technology, respecting user choice, and web design. The DSA, advanced by the European …

  1. msobkow Silver badge

    "Consider recent efforts in the US to tame social media platforms with legislation like Texas' HB 20, which legal scholars warn violate First Amendment speech protections."

    So called "legal scholars" are so obsessed with their "first amendment" in the US that it borders on the insane. I greatly prefer Canada's approach, which allows for things like hate speech laws over the objections of the deplorable members of society.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      One problem with conditional as opposed to "black and white" freedom of speech is that the definitions may change. We all know governments can't be trusted. A future governement could decide that speaking against government (or some thorny issue for them) is now "hate speech".

      So while lot of US defending of 1st amendment rights may well border on insanity, it is not totally without merit.

    2. M.V. Lipvig

      I don't see a conflict with a small rule change. Public or private forums. If a platform wants to be a public forum then require then to allow any and all posts, and give the forum a free pass on liability. But, if they want to censor content they get classified as a private forum are allowed to censor, and can be held financially and criminally liable for anything posted.

      I like when the freaks are allowed to post whatever they want. Main reason is most of them just want to be heard. Let them speak, and they are happy and go back to their nothing lives. On the other hand, shut them up and don't allow them to speak their minds and it festers inside until they decide that they can only be heard by committing violence.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        two problems with letting 'the freaks post whatever they want'.

        one, the internet is big enough they can find others who agree with them, and feel validated and accepted - which is wonderful for a breastfeeding mother, but less so for a racist neo-nazi or fundamentalist religious nutter.

        two, the culture of the internet is all about self-promotion and standing out - however briefly. This drives stupider and more extravagant comments, images and actions, resulting in injury, violence and all the other consequences we have become familiar with.

        The internet is not to blame for stupid people... but it has empowered them far beyond anything sane

    3. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      The language around 'hate speech' and similar has been controversial at times, to the point where even classic liberals are concerned.

      The phrase "grossly offensive" has been used multiple occasions within court to punish jokes. Where odd rulings have even resulted in judges claiming that "context does not matter if it is deemed offensive, because the offence experienced by the victim" is all that matters. The key bit missing is an actual list of offensive topics... Which generally falls out from your personal politics more often than not.

      In the UK we now have the term "objectionable content" and regulations placed on the management of this material. Curiously also being applied to medical professionals discussing covid narratives that do not always align 100% with government policy and messaging.

      We're obviously not quite at the "dear glorious leader" level of censorship. But it is odd to see some of the contradictions come into play. Ladies in underwear and innocent looking Pepe memes are offensive, while pro-abortion campaigns are fine. The line is going to be a grey blurry one for some time...

      1. msobkow Silver badge

        Yes, well, you live in a country that has more CCTV cameras per capita than anywhere else in the world...

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          An odd correlation due to ...... *?

          Yes, well, you live in a country that has more CCTV cameras per capita than anywhere else in the world... ..... msobkow

          And yet we are always being told that crime is soaring and convictions are diminishing. So are leading executive bodies failing to become smarter or the constantly surveilled or an amalgam of both?

          What is one ever to do to fix such a widespread worldswide problem?

          *Lack of intelligence and/or education?

  2. Tromos

    I sincerely hope that 'user consent' puts paid to the 'maybe later' or 'not now' buttons used by naggy pop-ups trying to persuade you to change browser or install some unwanted feature. There needs to be a flat refusal option that prevents the pop-up from ever appearing again, after all, it's not as if a refusal now would forever deny me the opportunity to install Google Chrome if dementia set in and I changed my mind.

    1. Pseu Donyme

      The "urging a recipient of the service to change a setting or configuration of the service after the recipient has already made a choice" being verboten -bit sounds like it would do just that (among other things).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But that's the classic conundrum.

      But that's the classic conundrum, which Google (and others) constantly use to their advantage. A flat refusal option requires data to be stored with the vendor in the cloud (which they don't have permission to do and so instead use local cookies) and why webpages like Google Search constantly prompt you to reapply the settings when anyone clears their cookies on exiting a browser (which a user might do, to help prevent tracking on next use). and is confronted again to enter their opt-in/opt-out options.

      Google importantly, deliberately make opt-out ten times harder (figuratively speaking) than opt-in, by making the user issue more clicks and require mouse movements to control scroll bars, to see all the information, with further clicks to confirm your opt-out.

      A better system might be to give such vendor requests a unique request code, that browsers recognise and have the browser store the equivalent of a script, that respond to such a request in an automated way but importantly in an anonymous way (in the same way setting Google's opt out/opt ins or the first time), basing that automation on a previous decision held locally but with no previous identifier (which happens now by reusing the stored Google cookie), or decisions set when setting up the browser.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: But that's the classic conundrum.

        Just respect the damned "do not track" setting my browser sends, and you're done. No recording of state needed.

        1. Evil Scot

          Re: But that's the classic conundrum.

          Ha, the do not track flag.

          The message to would be users of THE OWNERS computer that THEY DO NOT have permission to ACCESS SAID COMPUTER and INSTALL FILES FOR LATER USE.

          Just how do cookies fall under the computer misuse act in UK?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But that's the classic conundrum.

          'Just respect the damned "do not track" setting my browser sends...'

          In fairness, the last paragraph did cover this, to a point. "or decisions set when setting up the browser."

      2. msobkow Silver badge

        Re: But that's the classic conundrum.

        That "unique request code" sounds as feasible as "safe" back-doored encryption.

    3. zapper

      If you are not allowed to store data about a user, how do they know you have already said no?

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        Stop

        Assume the default position is "no", unless specifically stated as "yes"

        Logical.

        but not going to be popular (implemented) by the tech-bros

        1. mpi

          How popular something is depends on how costly the alternative is.

      2. mpi

        Easily solved: Consent to any and all data collection has to be opt-in only, Then the default-assumption is "no, i may not collect any data", and that's that.

    4. ShadowSystems

      At Tromos...

      Can you not configure the browser to auto-reject all pop ups so that nobody gets to annoy you with them?

      Can you not configure the browser to auto-reject all third party cookies, prompt on first party cookies, and then tick a "Don't ask me again" box on the first *and only* cookie prompt from any specific site?

      Or have modern browsers torn out such capabilities & delivered a more distopian interface through which to browse?

      I'm sorry if this seems like a silly question, but as I've never used a SmartPhone before (accessibility issues), I am unfamiliar with mobile browsers & their (lack of) functionality. =-/

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: At Tromos...

        They are there, but it shouldn't require 99.999 % of the user base to Google what they mean and how to set it.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    disallows targeted advertising to minors

    That seems to have some scope for confusion: presumably they're still targeted in that they are aimed at the younger audience, just not at any finer a demographic?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: disallows targeted advertising to minors

      Let's not kid people (pun intended) those "Children unboxing Children's toy's" YouTube videos are clearly targeted at different demographics, by the choice of the child and the toy. Google have the pick of the pie, which videos they promote or rank lower, so while not explicit targeting 'as such', the targeting is done implicitly.

  4. Mike 137 Silver badge

    A significant limitation

    Amended Article 1a(2): This Regulation shall not apply to any service that is not an intermediary service or to any requirements imposed in respect of such a service, irrespective of whether the service is provided through the use of an intermediary service.

    The definition of an intermediary service is “natural or legal person that provides an electronic environment where others can conduct financial and commercial activities”

    Consequently, the regulation only applies to "platforms" and such like. Providers of content or services via the intermediary (whether commercial or not) are not within its scope. This leaves a very large problem unaddressed, as said providers can still do pretty much what they like, even in respect of what would be prohibited for intermediaries.

  5. Pseu Donyme

    Enforcement is the key

    This is all well and good, but as we have seen with the GDPR good legislation doesn't matter in practice if it is not vigorously enforced: with GDPR there is something deeply wrong with the Irish DPC which has turned into an advocate and ally of US Big Tech*, which has seriously hampered enforcement as the European HQs of the worst offenders (i.e. Facebook/Meta and Google/Alphabet) are in Ireland and so the Irish DPC is supposed to be the lead authority to rein them in.

    * case in point: https://noyb.eu/en/irish-dpc-greenlights-facebooks-gdpr-bypass

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Hopefully Mozilla will be the first to be charged

    With their "UPDATE NOW" popups that you can't disable, except by creating a policy.json file.

    1. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: Hopefully Mozilla will be the first to be charged

      I don't think we're talking about software upgrade notifications for something you installed!!! You already accepted those notices by installing said software and agreeing to their license.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "technology will continue impacting societies in the future"

    Technology has always impacted society.

    The discovery of fire allowed our ancestors to learn how to cook, thereby making eating easier (and more delicious), thereby making our teeth last longer. And now, we need less of them.

    Agriculture allowed us to settle and start building civilization, instead of roaming around after the herds for our sustenance.

    Steam ushered in the Industrial Age, which ultimately removed the obligation for 99.9% of humanity to be farmers. We could now devote more people to Science, Mathematics, discovery end experimentation, which ultimately gave us the computer, the Internet and, recently, social media. That last one might not be progress after all.

    Technologies to look forward to ? Fusion, obviously, but also room-temperature supraconductivity, gravity modulation, true spaceships. Not all of that might happen, but whichever ones do, they will have an immense impact on our society.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: "technology will continue impacting societies in the future"

      Spaceship. Yup. I'm outta here...

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: "technology will continue impacting societies in the future"

      Our wise men have finished researching POTTERY. What should they research next?

      • Literacy

      • The Wheel

      • Social Media

      1. Giles C Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: "technology will continue impacting societies in the future"

        Haven’t seen the last option when playing civilisation - maybe it is in the newer versions as I haven’t do so for about 5 years?

  8. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Control

    So the process of regulatory capture funded by big tech continues. It is in the interest of eurocrats, because it gives them even more power and fewer services means it is much easier to control cells of dissent online.

    The direction of travel is to have tightly controlled sites with preapproved messaging designed to keep population in perpetual enslavement.

    Interestingly majority of people like that idea. They just want to live their life to death without having to think.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Control

      I'm sorry, you're saying that severe limitations on targeted advertising and bans on data slurping are examples of regulatory capture by big tech?

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Control of an Alien Concept and Otherworldly Motions/Remote Virtual Movements

      elsergiovolador,

      To not think nor realise that sort of control for dissent online is just a fanciful yet-still-to-do wishlist and impossible task employing the least productive and helpful of non-corporate minds virtually guarantees its catastrophic practical failure and everything else that follows to lead with A.N.Others in an altogether quite fundamentally different manner and direction.

      In smarter places, with or without SMARTR Spaces, interesting folk love to think of all that is missing in death ..... so they be remarkably well informed, with some even tending towards believing in the evidence which displays and exercises the very real possibility and energetic power of an emerging omnipotent omniscience.

      And a little something extra special they be happy to diligently deploy and thoroughly enjoy in any number of engaging beta tests and 0days.

    3. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Control

      The wording around dark patterns however suggests that hiding information that people would use to make informed choices would be banned.

      That's in direct contravention to 'pre-approved messaging'.

      But I'm in the UK, where the Government are (with willing collaboration from the Opposition) seeking to impose censorship on the UK, because how dare people have free thought.

  9. teknopaul Silver badge

    Dark Patterns

    End of the most abusive dark patterns would be good, I have not and never will give Google my credit card details.

    How will we be able to report these things?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dark Patterns

      And to whom?

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    No Lessons Learned/Subject Irretrievably Retarded/Unfit for Executive Future Office

    Regarding those future risks impacting societies and technology, beware the wannabe emperor with no clothes of many colours, expecting rules and regulations to provide internetworking public order in a piratical private enterprise space of heavenly saints and diabolical sinners...... Busy Angels and Infernal Daemons. Such as would be a Caesar are surely certifiably delusional in the extreme? And simply quite beyond earthly human help.

    There may be some kind and misguided/misguiding souls which would say they are to be more pitied than scorned, however all are most certainly agreed there be no safe and secure space place of rest and recovery for that which is better for all completely destroyed and expunged from the record ..... so the existence of no memory prevents the repeat appearance and any similar disruptive self-destructive performance of past failed projects experimenting with sublime and surreal universal programming instruction sets.

    They abound and avail themselves in many guises, but are easily found to be identified by virtue of their necessary activity with the following being a typical type exemplar ....

    amanfromMars [2201231335] ...... asks on https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/natos-space-policy-outlines-readiness-jointly-respond-attacks-space

    The document says, “Many threats to Allies’ space systems originate in the cyber domain and are likely to increase.”

    Does NATO or any of its threatening Allies presume and assume to be responsible and unaccountable for any unquestioned supreme leadership role exercising primary virtual command and remote anonymous and autonomous control  of cyberspace with an increasing number of cyber domains?

    Upon what basis would that assumption/presumption be able to be justified and accepted by anyone/anything that would realise it untenable and an impossible stretch for even the most active and agreeable of imaginations?

    Have such similar empire building escapades over the last few centuries not taught them anything about the guaranteed folly and self-destructive result of such discriminatory ventures ‽ .

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Proof Positive of Executive Future Office Unsuitability ‽ .

      Quite why how a seriously serially dysfunctional and corrupt political party establishment/Parliamentary based government type system imagines that it can win what is effectively a fool's errand war of their own making against both a greater emerging and stealthily engaging and much smarter Big Tech opponent/partner/competitor, is something to ponder is indisputable evidence before the fact of their unsuitability to lead anything and/or anyone anywhere with rules and regulations to follow.

      However, if they want such an enemy should they persist and insist on continuing to plough what may be considered by more than just a few to be thoroughly rotten furrows, so be it.

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