Alfred Sant questions whether digital global monopolies should be broken into smaller units to ensure better regulation

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 January, 2022 at 2:18 pm by Andre Camilleri

In his intervention during a European Parliament Plenary session in Strasbourg on the Digital Services Act (DSA), former Prime Minister and Head of the Maltese S&D Delegation to the European Parliament, Alfred Sant stated that the DSA regulation’s ultimate goals are to provide European Union citizens with safer and more transparent access to online platforms. He was representing the S&D group as their rapporteur for the ECON Opinion on the Digital Services Act and his task dealt primarily with macroeconomic and competition aspects.

The digital rules laid down in the Digital Services Act will protect both consumers and citizens. The main objective behind the vote of the DSA is to come to grips with illegal data and make sure that online platforms are responsible for their actions. Besides, the DSA intends to reduce the dissemination of fake information and also boost content moderation.

As expected, the process towards reaching an agreement in the European Parliament on this issue proved to be thorny and the compromises reached did not provide an enduring answer to all pending questions, Sant said. In light of this, the Labour MEP highlighted that “this legislation should therefore be seen as a crucial step of a work in progress”.

Sant pointed out that certain technical and political issues will certainly need further consideration. In this regard, he emphasized the need of an ongoing audit of how digital service providers carry out their functions. However, he stressed that accounting and legal firms should not automatically be taken as competent for the purposes of auditing under the DSA.

Sant suggested that there should be some definition of professional standards to ensure that auditors under the DSA regime are fit for purpose. Beyond that, he expressed doubt on the role financial and competition authorities will be playing in the new mechanism.

Finally Sant posed a wider strategic question – Has the time has come for global monopolies to be broken up into smaller units to ensure that they do not overshadow and water-down regulations? he asked.

The report on the Digital Services Act (DSA) proposal was adopted with 530 votes in favour, 78 against and 80 abstentions.

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