Digital Services Act ‘Media Exemption’ Update

  • After a political meeting last week, IMCO rapporteur and shadows have rejected a ‘media exemption’. All groups except S&D rejected the proposal to include it.
  • However, the issue might come back in the plenary vote, so the idea is not completely off the table. The German government is still pushing for this in their comments to the DSA General Approach, so the counter-disinformation community should remain vigilant.
  • The actions of the community on this issue have been influencial! Thanks to everyone for their support!

Disinfo News and Updates

  • Covid Protests. As infection rates rise and government restrictions return, misleading information and conspiracy theories are flourishing across Europe, fueling protests and political backlash. Protesters and narratives take aim at authorities.
  • Future Tech Forum. Digital policymakers are gathering in London for a two-day conference on tech policy hosted by the U.K. government and backed by the G-7. Topics include social media regulation, artificial intelligence, and competition. 
  • Russian Social Media Regulation. Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor has demanded 13 foreign tech firms either become officially represented in Russia by the end of 2021 or face penalties, in compliance with a law that took effect in July.
  • Greek Misinformation Law. Adopted in Greece’s parliament on November 11, a legal amendment to Greece’s criminal code would make “the dissemination of fake news” a criminal offense.

EU Policy Monitor 

  • Digital Services Act. Economy ministers rubber-stamped common positions on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) at a Competitiveness Council (COMPET) meeting in Brussels last week. Meanwhile, the ‘media exemption’ amendment feared by the counter-disinformation community seems to be off the table, following negotiations last Tuesday between the lead rapporteur Christel Schaldemose (S&D) and other EP rapporteurs. Still, the story isn’t necessarily over: Euractiv spoke with EU DisinfoLab Executive Director Alexandre Alaphilippe. 
  • Code of Practice. 16 “prospective signatories” are set to join the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, including Twitch, Adobe, Havas, Reporters Without Borders and the search engine Neeva. The new signatories will contribute to the drafting of the Commission’s revised code of conduct. 
  • European Media Freedom Act. During yesterday’s European News Media Forum, EC Vice President Věra Jourová and Commissioner Thierry Breton presented plans for new media rules. The rules aim, inter alia, to address the cross-border functioning and ownership of media inside the EU to prevent government interference and to prevent media monopolies online and offline.
  • Political Advertising. Last Thursday, the commission presented its proposed regulation on the transparency and targeting of political advertising, part of a larger package seeking on “Reinforcing democracy and integrity of elections”. The regulation will cover ads by, for or on behalf of a political actor as well as so called issue-based ads, and seeks to impose strict conditions on targeting and amplification. See Julian Jaursch‘s helpful thoughts.

The Latest from the EU DisinfoLab

From the so-called “deep state” to healthcare workers to the government, EU DisinfoLab Research Coordinator Maria Giovanna Sessa explores the targets of COVID-19 disinformation in Italy who have been regularly attacked over the past year and a half during the pandemic.Read the blogpost here.

Research and Long Reads…

  • Johanna Wild explores the German-language QAnon ecosystem for Bellingcat. She tracks the conspiracy’s spread in Germany, and in particular the open source investigative tools that appear to play a role in its development.
  • Jill Hopke writes in The Conversation about a subtle form of misinformation scholars are referring to as “fossil fuel solutionism.”

Events and Announcements

  • December 2: The European Data Protection & Privacy Conference returns this year for its 11th edition. Register here.
  • December 6:  The National Committee on American Foreign Policy will host the second part of its event series on “Fortifying the Future: Building Resilience in the Age of Disinformation”. More here.
  • December 8: The Content Authenticity Initiative is holding an event on “The New Trust Model in Photojournalism” with the VII Agency. Register here.
  • Dec 8, Jan 11, Jan 25, Feb 8: The program coordinators from Transitions (CZ), Towarzystwo Inicjatyw Twórczych “ę” (PL), Memo98 (SK), and the Center for Independent Journalism (HU) will introduce participants to the key principles to empowering older adults against disinformation efforts.  Register here.
  • June 2-4: Save the date for the 17th edition of the GLOBSEC Bratislava forum.
  • Logically is hosting the first funding call for its new global academic research program. Read more here.
  • CHIST-ERA, supporting European coordinated research on long-term ICT and ICT-based scientific challenges, has a call for projects on the Foundations for Misbehaviour Detection and Mitigation Strategies in Online Social Networks and Media (OSNEM). More info here.