Digital Services Act: Google asks European Commission to clarify responsibilities

Google has responded to the European Commission’s public consultation regarding the Digital Services Act, submitting a 135-page document which points out the need to clarify the EU’s expectations towards tech companies.

In the submission, Google urged the European Commission to avoid a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, as well as elaborate on the responsibilities to which the tech industry will have to adhere if the legislation is passed.

The Digital Services Act, which was first unveiled in 2019, is expected to provide the EU with a raft of legal powers to influence how social media platforms govern hate speech, extremist material, and political advertising.

The legislation would directly impact Google’s video-hosting service YouTube, which has been criticised in the past for spreading harmful conspiracy theories, fake news, and hate speech.

In the document submitted to the European Commission, Google agreed that tech companies should act fast in order to immediately remove or disable access to harmful or illegal content. However, the tech giant also raised the concern that hosting platforms may be forced to prioritise speed over cautious decision-making.

In a blog post announcing the submission, Google’s SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker said that the Digital Services Act “should reflect the wide range of services offered by the tech industry”, as opposed to adopting a common approach for every company.

“No two services are the same and the new act should be rooted in objectives and principles that can be applied, as appropriate, across this broad, diverse ecosystem. This will ensure that everyone - platforms regulators, people and businesses - are responsible for the parts they play,” he said.

Walker added that Google is “committed to providing greater transparency for our users and governments so that they better understand the content they are seeing and how to notify us of concerns”.

“The DSA should support these kinds of constructive transparency measures while ensuring that platforms can continue to protect user privacy, ensure commercially sensitive information is not revealed and prevent bad actors from gaming the system,” he said.

The consultation period for the Digital Services Act is set to conclude on 8 September.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.