Brussels, BELGIUM – Today, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional political agreement on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA). Although the so-called ‘special treatment’ of media content strikes a better balance than before, it still sets a dangerous precedent.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA Europe) warns against the inclusion of the 24-hour temporary must-carry obligation for media content online in Article 17, which creates a loophole that rogue actors can exploit.
Those with bad intentions who pose as legitimate media outlets will now be able to abuse this mechanism to disseminate harmful content for 24 hours before action can be taken. The new possibility to adjust this timeframe in ‘times of crisis’ is not enough to prevent Article 17 from setting a dangerous precedent, forcing very large online platforms to carry content.
While disappointed by this decision, CCIA Europe welcomes that Article 17’s scope has been limited in order not to endanger the implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA) and other sectoral EU content moderation rules. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether this is enough to ensure that harmful content, such as disinformation, can still be moderated.
CCIA Europe looks forward to collaborating with competent national authorities and the new European Board for Media Services to make sure the implementation of EMFA Article 17 does not impact users’ safety. Indeed, very large online platforms need to be able to continue protecting minors from inappropriate content, even if shared by legitimate media. CCIA appreciates that the number of undue content moderation decisions of media content will be easier to quantify.
The European Parliament and Member States will now have to vote on this final deal before the Media Freedom Act can become EU law.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Europe’s Senior Policy Manager, Mathilde Adjutor:
“The Digital Services Act wisely did not introduce any time frame to enforce content moderation decisions, rather urging players to act as fast as possible. By contrast, the EMFA’s 24-hour must-carry obligation could end up creating a dangerous loophole.”
“We hope that, in practice, the Media Freedom Act will prove to be an efficient companion to the DSA instead of contradicting it. The impacted online platforms now count on authorities to make sure that the implementation of Article 17 is straightforward and feasible.”