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Digital Services Act: new rules for the internet 

Insults, threats and sexual harassment: every second young woman is the target of digital violence on social media. Facebook, Twitter and online platforms alike have so far done too little to combat hate on their platforms.  

With the new EU law, the Digital Services Act (DSA), the EU has ushered in a new era for the basic digital rights of users. Through a petition demanding better protection of women on social media and various actions run together with an alliance of international organisations, HateAid has critically contributed to the legislative process over the past year and given victims of digital violence a voice on the EU political stage.  

HateAid welcomes the EU’s strong will to regulate platforms and calls for a fast and consistent enforcement of the new law. Users will be generally better protected from hate speech, threats and insults on online platforms with these platforms subject to a set of rules and obligations, although the deal has not gone far enough to protect especially women from image-based abuse.

Digital violence figures

Boundless hate: dramatic situation across Europe 

How many people in Europe are affected by digital violence? The results of our EU-wide survey from November 2021 are alarming:
50
% of Europeans aged 18 - 35 have already experienced digital violence.
30
% of women fear that intimate images of them could be published online without their consent.
52
% of women express their opinions online less often for fear of hate.
What the new EU internet law means

A new era for tech transparency and online targeting 

 
Very large online platforms will be obliged to disclose their algorithms and other inner processes that have caused mistrust and public outcry about intended amplification of hate speech and disinformation. Other transparency measures include granting researchers and NGOs access to platform data in order to conduct research. Now platforms will be obliged to open up the so-called black box and cooperate in independent research that will shed light on their handling of illegal, radicalised and discriminatory content as well as disinformation.

This is essential to assess the risk that they are posing to society at large especially in times of war and election, but also to learn more about how users are drawn to filter bubbles and fall for conspiracy theories, disinformation and radicalisation. However, more work will need to be done to make sure that this transparency transforms the toxic engagement model of Big Tech. 

Furthermore, against massive lobbying efforts by Big Tech, the lawmakers also agreed to stop discriminatory and manipulative targeting on sites with user-generated content through advertising against minors and people based on sensitive data, like religion or sexual orientation. 

Weltfrauentag Aktion Berlin

Online platforms must become more transparent in order to give affected users the chance to take action against hatred. Photo: Pexels / Shvets Production

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, Gründungsgeschäftsführerin HateAid

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, Photo: Andrea Heinsohn Photography

Social networks have provided a platform for the mass spread of hate and agitation. With the Digital Services Act, we have for the first time an EU-wide law that attempts to stand up to Facebook, Twitter and Co. We will be watching very closely to see how the social networks implement the new obligations. For us, it’s clear: if the measures don’t bear fruit, we will demand that the EU tighten up on effective protection against digital violence.

Anna-Lena von Hodenberg, CEO at HateAid 

What the new EU internet law means

What the EU new internet law means

What we support:

All social media platforms now have to provide report functions!

The DSA will also mandate online platforms to introduce an internal complaint mechanism – one that users can complain through when a platform has made a wrong initial evaluation of the report.

Now users will have a right to a second assessment of the content by the platform, and when that is exhausted – users will be able to go to an out-of-court dispute settlement.

What is disappointing:

Lawmakers decided to not include effective protection measures in the DSA concerning image-based sexual abuse on porn platforms.

Although this is a massive problem: researchers have found that one in eight titles on front pages of the most popular porn platforms is image-based abuse material. Perpetrators are very rarely identifiable to face any consequences.

This is why we are calling on the EU institutions: we now urgently need new EU legislation that closes this loophole. This is the only way to stop the mass distribution of image-based violence on porn platforms and to secure users' fundamental rights.

Our commitment for you!

From Berlin to Brussels: we fought for your rights!

With the petition “Stop violence against women online! #makeitsafe, HateAid brought the voices of thousands of EU citizens to Brussels and called for effective measures to protect against digital violence. Through the various actions run together with an alliance of international organisations, HateAid has critically contributed to the legislative process over the past year and given victims of digital violence a voice on the EU political stage. These efforts were supported by a broad coalition of national and international lawmakers, NGOs, activists, and public figures. 

The campaign “Stop violence against women online! #makeitsafe as part of the Landecker Digital Justice Movement is an initiative of HateAid funded by the Alfred Landecker Foundation. 

Arbeit für den Digital Services Act: Josephine übergibt die HateAid-Petition an MEP Christel Schaldemose.

Handover of the HateAid petition with over 30,000 signatures in Brussels: Josephine Ballon, Head of Legal at HateAid & Christel Schaldemose, MEP.

Alfred Landecker Foundation

Our commitment to a better Digital Services Act (DSA) is realised through the financial support of the Alfred Landecker Foundation. 

Eine Flagge mit dem Logo von HateAid
Timeline

This is how we advocated for a better DSA 

The kick-off
The European Commission presents the first draft of the Digital Services Act. The legislative processstarts. The European Parliament and the member states can introduce amendments.
15 December
2020
We make a difference!
We draft proposals for the legislative text, get in touch with policymakers, promote our demands and bring in the perspective of victims of digital violence. 
22 June
2021
Launch of our first international petition!
All over Europe we see that people are sick of online violence. We launch an international petition to make sure that these voices are heard by the EU. 
12 October
2021
We are protesting
We are serious: we show this with a protest action directly in front of the European Parliament. On this day, the EU policy makers will not be able to ignore us 
08 November
2021
We take your 30,000 votes to the EU
We hand over the petition with your 30,000 votes to the lead negotiator of the European Parliament, MEP Christel Schaldemose. 
31 January
2022
Don’t look away, Mr Digital Minister Wissing!
We protest! This time in front of the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. We demand from Digital Minister Wissing and State Secretary Kluckert: stand up for the rights of victims of digital violence in the EU. 
08 March
2022
We give everything!
We gather in front of the building in Brussels where EU policymakers will meet for the final negotiations on the DSA. Our demand: stop digital violence! 
22 April
2022
We have a new EU internet law!
A huge success: more transparency and better complaint mechanisms for victims of digital violence. Our commitment in Brussels has paid off! 
05 July
2022
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