The EU’s Censorship Regime Is Coming

Starting in 2024, social media sites must remove “disinformation” or face enormous fines.

Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: The European Union’s Digital Services Act goes into effect on January 1, 2024. Passed last year, it stipulates that Big Tech platforms must act to remove “disinformation” and “hate speech” or pay the equivalent of billions of dollars in fines.

  • The background: The E.U. has a supposedright to freedom of expression”that is tempered by oftentimes vague speech laws, while America’s First Amendment is more permissive. The Digital Services Act widens the longstanding differences in speech protections.

  • Not just the Union: America is alone when it comes to strong protections. In March 2022, the United Kingdom recently sentenced a man to 150 hours of community service for posting a rude tweet — and he could have been jailed.

  • The trend against “disinformation”: Germany allows regional authorities to initiate proceedings against media outlets based on the perceived quality of their reporting.

Why it matters: For decades, the internet and social media were mostly unregulated and allowed for non-establishment narratives to perpetuate and for non-establishment candidates, like Donald Trump, to win office. Censorship allows political establishments around the globe to close off threats to their control of narratives.

How it affects America: A federal court recently ruled that the U.S. government likely violated the Constitution by telling platforms what to censor, signaling that an American version of the E.U.’s law might not be possible. But with the E.U. adopting such stringent regulations, major tech companies operating in America could be pressured to censor by forces abroad.

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