Brussels, BELGIUM — The European Media Freedom Act presented by the European Commission earlier today seeks to introduce new rules to safeguard the independence and pluralism of Europe’s media. The “must-carry” obligation included in the proposal, however, could be abused to force social media and other online platforms to spread disinformation or illegal content, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) warns.
CCIA Europe supports the European Media Freedom Act’s (EMFA) main goals, as independent media and freedom of expression are key to any well-functioning democracy. The Internet, and online platforms in particular, play an important role in promoting media pluralism, giving Europeans easy access to a diverse news landscape. Nevertheless, the Association believes that several of the proposed rules could be misused. The special treatment that platforms would be required to give any media outlet is particularly worrisome.
As it stands, the EMFA would allow any organisation to declare itself a “media outlet” on an online platform, triggering far-reaching obligations for the platform. This amounts to a must-carry obligation of content for online platforms, which rogue actors could exploit to disseminate abusive, extremist, or illegal content as well as disinformation, such as Russian propaganda, under the pretence of sharing news.
CCIA Europe looks forward to working with the EU institutions to ensure the EMFA preserves a fair and balanced relationship between online platforms and media, which is crucial to fostering a healthy information ecosystem.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Policy Manager, Mathilde Adjutor:
“Online platforms should not bear the responsibility of determining who or what qualifies as a credible source of news, nor the obligation to accept any organisation that claims to be one. If lawmakers want to improve the quality of information that Europeans consume, then they should carefully reconsider this ‘must carry’ obligation.”
“Any new content-related obligations should be aligned with existing EU legislation to avoid a patchwork of conflicting rules. Indeed, content moderation is already part of the recently adopted Digital Services Act which companies are now starting to implement.”