The European Parliament held a discussion with Commissioner Thierry Breton about the recent sanctions against Russian media outlets and about the upcoming Digital Services Act. MEP’s spoke with Breton, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, about how the Digital Services Act would work amid the current backdrop of war.
“We’ve seen the impact of the Russian propaganda machine within Russia and beyond,” Breton said. “This also gives us an idea of how important information and news has become; the fact that it’s become a battlefield.”
The act would outline certain responsibilities for online platforms to monitor the spread of disinformation and other illegal communication within their services. The act, which was originally proposed in December of 2020, would also seek to protect EU citizens and their data online.
MEP’s from the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection asked Breton about sanctions against Russian state media outlets and whether the Digital Services Act would have checked the spread of disinformation from those platforms sooner.
If the act were in place during the current crisis in Ukraine, the online media platforms would have had to evaluate their algorithms and the content that was being shared, either social media or traditional media. They would have had to introduce checks to monitor for the spread of digital disinformation within the EU, Breton said.
This discussion comes after the EU added Russian state-sponsored media companies to their list of sanctioned companies, which means that EU citizens should no longer be able to access Sputnik or other Russian news services. The justification for that action was that these services were spreading disinformation and propaganda on behalf of the Kremlin, thus the speech was not protected under Freedom of Expression.