New EU Internet Legislation 2022 – A Case of Hurry Up & Wait

Between the Russia-Ukraine misinformation and cyberwar campaigns on one side, and monopolies by US companies like Meta, on the other, EU legislators need to agree – and fast –  on new online laws that will protect both EU citizens and their markets from foreign interference.

The European Commission under Von der Leyen wants to make “Europe fit for the digital age.” That may be easier said than done, what with big tech companies clinging to their privileged market positions, and privacy pundits constantly drawing attention to legislative language that may impose upon fundamental freedoms.

As the stakeholders wage a long drawn-out “battle of letters”, we may as well use the time to get some clarity on what the new EU laws could mean for us average Joes. 

For example, will the DSA’s misinformation and dark patterns obligations kill free speech on social media. Does CSAM spell the end of… end-to-end encryption? 

Here’s the latest from the EU legislative frontline.

Picking Up The Conversation in September

In both her State of the Union speech, and in an accompanying letter of intent, President Von der Leyen stressed the importance of cybersecurity. This was echoed a week later when the European Commission finally published the Cyber Resilience Act, the long-awaited legislation on IoT security. This month has also seen renewed discussion around digital identity (eIDAS), and the Data Act. 

Some important acts to keep an eye on include:

CSAM Regulation – Early Days

While still in its infancy, this new regulation aims to set uniform rules to keep CSAM (child sexual abuse material) off mainstream online services. 

That means first detecting it… but whatever’s used to detect one type of content can just as easily be used to detect another kind. This has set alarm bells ringing for rights groups and Member States alike. 

As Member States consider their positions, privacy pundits and top tech companies warn that the EU CSAM scanning law could outlaw end-to-end encryption on messaging apps like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal.

“Incredibly disappointing to see a proposed EU regulation on the internet fail to protect end-to-end encryption,” tweeted WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart. “This proposal would force companies to scan every person’s messages and put EU citizens’ privacy and security at serious risk.”  

Digital Services Act (DSA) &  Digital Market Act (DMA) – Imminent 

Just moments away from being signed into effect, the DSA and DMA together form a new set of online rules for the whole EU.

Aimed at creating a safer and more open digital space, the acts have been lauded as “game-changing”, “far-reaching”, and “ambitious”. They could also make a big dent in big tech’s ad-supported bottom line.

The DSA will require online services to take a harder line on misinformation, dark patterns and online ads, potentially banning targeted ads on social media altogether. 

The DMA, on the other hand, aims to reduce the power of major platforms to make space for new (preferably EU) players. 

Despite concerns over who defines “misinformation”, and big tech’s outcry about the laws’ heavy-handedness and discrimination against American companies, the two acts are expected to be published in the EU’s ‘Official Journal’ sometime in October and enter into force 20 days later. 

How New EU Legislation Gets Passed

Painfully slow, at best. From its early days, internet governance and legislation has followed a collaborative “multi-stakeholder model” involving input from governments, businesses, civil society groups, individuals, and more.

As democratic as this sounds, it also means the legislation approval process tends to move at a snail’s pace. While we wait for further clarity, take control of your own data security with tools like CyberGhost VPN.  

Protect Your Private Information No Matter What

As the legislative foundation shifts unnervingly beneath our feet, defend your security and privacy now and in future with CyberGhost VPN. 

Our VPN encrypts your internet traffic so no one can snoop on your online activities or use your data without your permission. CyberGhost VPN also hides your IP so nothing can be traced back to your real location, and you can take the best of the EU internet with you wherever you go. 

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