PARIS — France's digital regulator is rolling out a system to give tech researchers broad access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and other platforms in a bid to tackle online abuse, discrimination and misinformation.
Digital regulator wants platforms to give researchers access to data for scrutiny.
The national broadcast and digital media regulator, Arcom, launched a public consultation on Wednesday asking researchers, NGOs and tech giants how they want to share data to tackle online malice.
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The government plans to create a network of investigators in the EU and other countries who would be responsible for reviewing platform decisions and flagging potential breaches, effectively outsourcing some of the oversight needed to enforce the new regulation. EU content moderation.
“If states try to be as powerful as Google or Facebook, that's the Russian way, that's the Chinese way. We cannot make it work in a democratic way, ”said Arcom councilor Benoît Loutrel. "But we can be as powerful as [the social media giants] if we act in a European network."
The initiative comes ahead of legal requirements platforms will face under the Digital Services Act (DSA) before it comes into force later this year. The DSA's final agreement, obtained earlier by POLITICO, still needs to be formally approved, but it says regulators must consider the "rights and interests" of platforms when compelling them to provide access to researchers. This means platforms can cite data protection, trade secrecy, and security concerns as reasons to reject outside scrutiny.
The French consultation could challenge the platforms for their arguments to keep decision-making black boxes closed.
Loutrel cited Twitter as "the only platform that has voluntarily implemented access" through its application programming interfaces (APIs), which allow outside groups to connect technical systems to Twitter's data streams.
Data policy researcher Alex Engler said the new EU law's provision would be "a relatively minor change for Twitter" but would "require a huge push" from Facebook.
The French plan is meant to be a pioneering scheme that will resolve the balance of power between tech giants and researchers willing to dive in and examine them, Loutrel said. Wednesday's consultation will help clarify the system "to start real data access as soon as the DSA comes into force in late 2022 or early 2023", he added.