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Google, Meta, Apple on the radar in EU’s online content rules. What are they?

GS-1 Indian Society: Effects of globalization on Indian society

The European Union (EU) has announced 19 platforms – Amazon Store, Facebook, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, Wikipedia, YouTube, etc. – that will be held accountable under its new online content regulations

The Digital Services Act (DSA) regulations aim to restructure the EU's e-commerce and social media rules, placing a tighter control on how major technology platforms moderate user-generated content.


Key Features of the Digital Services Act

  • Measures to counter illegal content: The DSA introduces mechanisms for users to flag illegal content and requires platforms to cooperate with "trusted flaggers" to combat illegal goods and services.

  • Traceability of business users: The DSA imposes new obligations on online marketplaces to trace business users to identify sellers of illegal goods.

  • Effective safeguards for users: The DSA provides users with the ability to challenge platforms' content moderation decisions and ensures effective safeguards for users.

  • Faster removals and provisions to challenge: The Digital Services Act requires social media companies to implement new procedures for faster removal of harmful or illegal content. These companies must also inform users about their content takedown policy. The DSA also permits users to challenge the platforms' takedown decisions and to seek out-of-court settlements.

  • Bigger platforms have greater responsibility: The Digital Services Act holds Big Tech companies accountable by imposing increased responsibility on them. The legislation does not adopt a uniform approach but rather places more stringent requirements on "Very Large Online Platforms" (VLOPs) and "Very Large Online Search Engines" (VLOSEs) that have over 45 million users in the EU.

  • Direct supervision by the European Commission: The Digital Services Act mandates central supervision by the European Commission to ensure that the requirements and their enforcement are monitored and followed by companies. This is an essential measure to prevent companies from bypassing the legislation at the member-state level.

  • More transparency on how algorithms work: The Digital Services Act mandates VLOPs and VLOSEs to ensure transparency and scrutiny of their algorithms. These platforms must conduct systemic risk analysis and reduction to promote accountability regarding the societal impact of their products. Moreover, VLOPs must allow regulators to access their data for compliance assessment and permit researchers to access their data to identify systemic risks associated with illegal or harmful content.

  • Clearer identifiers for ads and who’s paying for them: The Digital Services Act requires online platforms to implement clearer identification of advertisements, enabling users to identify ads easily and understand the source or funding behind them. Furthermore, these platforms must refrain from displaying personalized advertising that targets minors or based on sensitive personal data.

  • Codes of conduct and technical standards: The DSA includes codes of conduct and technical standards to assist platforms in compliance with the new rules, ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities and enhancing measures taken to ensure advertising compliance.

  • Applicability to all online intermediaries: The DSA applies to all online intermediaries offering their services in the single market, regardless of location.


Comparing the EU’s DSA with India’s online laws

  • In February 2021, India introduced Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules) that placed significant due-diligence requirements on large social media platforms such as Meta and Twitter.

  • The IT Rules included appointing key personnel to handle law enforcement requests and user grievances, enabling identification of the first originator of the information on its platform under certain conditions, and deploying technology-based measures to identify certain types of content.

  • Social media companies have objected to some of the provisions in the IT Rules, and WhatsApp has filed a case against a requirement that requires it to trace the first originator of a message.

  • WhatsApp alleges that the requirement will dilute the encryption security on its platform and could compromise personal messages of millions of Indians.

  • The IT Ministry notified a contentious measure by creating government-backed grievance appellate committees, which would have the authority to review and revoke content moderation decisions taken by large tech platforms.

  • In contrast, the EU's Digital Services Act (DSA) places increased accountability on large tech companies, requires transparency measures and scrutiny of how algorithms work, and demands clearer identifiers for ads and who's paying for them.

  • The DSA also allows users to challenge takedown decisions made by platforms, and to seek out-of-court settlements[Ref- IE]

Fact File

Amazon Indigenous woman wins Goldman environment prize

  • The Goldman Environmental Prize, also known as Green Nobel, was founded in 1989 by Richard and Rhoda Goldman.

  • It honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists from around the world, inspiring all of us to take action to protect our planet.

  • The prize is awarded annually to one person from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America.

  • Goldman Environmental Prize recipients this year are:
    • Alessandra Korap, member of the Munduruku tribe in Brazil, won the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work in defending the rights of Indigenous people in Brazil's Amazon rainforest. She has been fighting against the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Tapajos River, which would have devastating impacts on the environment and the livelihoods of Indigenous people in the region.

    • Tero Mustonen, a university professor and environmental activist from Finland, was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for leading the purchase of peatland damaged by state-sponsored industrial activity.

    • Delima Silalahi, a Batak woman from North Sumatra, Indonesia, received the prize for organizing Indigenous communities across the country to advocate for their rights to traditional forests.

    • Chilekwa Mumba, a Zambian community organizer, was recognized for his fight for and successful compensation for residents harmed by copper mining before the U.K. Supreme Court.

    • Zafer Kizilkaya of Turkey was awarded the prize for establishing Turkey's first community-managed marine protected area in the Mediterranean as a marine conservationist and conservation photographer.

    • Diane Wilson, an American shrimp boat captain, won the prize for her landmark case against petrochemical giant Formosa Plastics over the discharge of plastic waste on the Texas Gulf Coast. [Ref- TH]

Pushkaralu festival returns to the Ganga after a gap of 12 years

  • The 12-day Pushkaralu festival of Telugu-speaking people commenced on April 22 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

  • Pushkaralu festival, also known as Ganga Pushkaram held once in every 12 years.


  • According to astrology, every river is associated with a zodiac sign and the festival of Pushkaralu starts when Jupiter moves from one zodiac to another. 

  • According to the Hindu Mythology, Pushkara, after performing severe penance, was granted by Lord Shiva the ability to live in water and purify holy rivers. 

  • It is believed that devotees who take a holy dip in Ganga river and other sacred rivers during Pushkaralu, get free from the sins committed in the past and get salvation

  • Pushkara entered one of the 12 sacred rivers — Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Bhima, Tapti, Narmada, Saraswati, Tungbhadra, Sindhu, and Pranhita on Brihaspati's request, and each river's zodiac sign determines which river is chosen for the annual festival. [Ref- TH] 


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