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MEPs target fake news and illegal online content

15 June 2017, 21:22 CET
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MEPs target fake news and illegal online content

Photo © Anatoly Vartanov - Fotolia-200

(STRASBOURG) - Current laws regulating online platforms need to be updated for the digital age, the European Parliament urged Thursday, reflecting increasing public disquiet about fake news and illegal content.

Acknowledging the value of online platforms in increasing consumer choice, Henna Virkkunen MEP said: "We need to promote the growth of online platforms in Europe and strengthen the ability of European platforms to scale-up and to compete globally."

However, MEPs say there is an urgent need for responsibility for online platforms to be clarified.

"With this text we wanted to deal with the essential questions raised by the online platform economy," said Philippe Juvin MEP: "its precise definition, who is responsible for them, tax, unfair practices and the need to adapt our laws to the online world."

The Parliament is calling for a level playing field for comparable services online and offline, and stronger measures against fake news and illegal goods, practices and content online.

Specifically, in order to boost consumer and privacy protection, whilst also developing the full potential of online platforms, MEPs want the European Commission to:

  • Investigate the possible errors and abuse of algorithms which can lead to discrimination, unfair practice or breaches of privacy;
  • Provide guidelines to online platforms to comply with their responsibilities and liability rules;
  • Create a level playing field for comparable services online and offline;
  • Define and further clarify the notice and take-down procedures for illegal content and goods;
  • Analyse if further legislation is needed to limit the dissemination and spreading of fake content;

The resolution also calls for online platforms themselves to take certain measures to ensure users' privacy and accurate information:

  • Fight illegal goods and content with regulatory or self-regulatory measures (e.g. track repeat offenders, moderate inappropriate or illegal content on web pages);
  • Combat the spread of fake news by providing users with tools to flag fake news, so that other users will know that it is false;
  • Inform users precisely what data relating to them is collected and how it will be used;
  • Ensure anonymity when personal data is handled by third parties;
  • Offer customers clear, comprehensive and fair terms and conditions, presented in a user-friendly way, avoiding complex terminology;

Further information, European Parliament

Adopted text (2016/2276(INI)) will soon be available here (15.06.2017)

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