Some of the Big Tech companies affected have presence on virtually every phone in the world, Source: Depositphotos

“The countdown is on”: EU forces Big Tech to adopt strict rules on content

“The countdown is on”: EU forces Big Tech to adopt strict rules on content

The European Commission has named 19 heavy-weight online platforms that will have to play by the book

The European Commission has named 19 large and influential digital companies, whose influence in the online space is considered to be crucial and substantial, as the target of stricter rules regarding safety protocols and the spread of illegal and false content.

Among these companies are Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, TikTok and AliExpress, examples of enterprises that command an oversized share of the global Internet audience.

We consider these 19 online platforms and search engines have become systematically relevant and have special responsibilities to make the internet safer," EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Reuters.

Europe ready for the digital age challenges

The new rules will be implemented in the framework of the Digital Services Act (DSA), adopted last year, which aims to harmonize regulatory gaps between member states and provide unified requirements for platform operators. It also aims to rein in the proliferation of illegal content in terms of a variety of categories, such as hate speech or disinformation.

Among the measures that are foreseen under the DSA are:

  • users will be clearly informed why certain information is being recommended to them and will have the right to opt out of profiling-based recommender systems;
  • users will be able to easily report illegal content, and platforms will have to handle these signals properly;
  • the display of ads cannot be based on sensitive data of the user (such as ethnic origin, political views or sexual orientation);
  • platforms must label all ads and inform users who pays for them;
  • profiling-based targeted ads to children are no longer allowed;
  • platforms and search engines must take measures to address the risks associated with the spread of illegal content online and the negative impact on freedom of expression and freedom of information;
  • platforms must have a mechanism through which users can report illegal content, and respond expeditiously to these reports.

Commission Breton also indicated that the platforms would have a grace period in which they can readjust to the new conditions and implement a review in their internal policies, but that the “countdown has started” for them. The companies have until 25 August to synchronize their practices with the law.

Failing to do so would put them under the possibility of fines (up to 6 percent of their global turnover) or even a temporary ban to exercise their activity in the EU.

The Commission’s list includes Google’s five services (search engine, Maps, Play Store, Shopping and YouTube), the social networks Facebook and Instagram of the Meta group, as well as the Bing search engine, the LinkedIn professional social network of Microsoft, the AppStore application of Apple and the online trade giant Amazon.

The rest are AliExpress, the logistics brand of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the social network Snapchat, the photo-sharing service Pinterest, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and the European leader in online sales of fashion goods Zalando complete the list.



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