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STATEMENT

Putting meaningful transparency at the heart of the Digital Services Act






Digital Agenda / STATEMENT
European Policy Centre

Date: 29/10/2020
A coalition of 46 civil society organizations and world-renowned academics join AlgorithmWatch and the European Policy Centre in calling for binding transparency rules for online platforms. In a statement published today (see below), the signatories urge the European Commission to put meaningful transparency at the heart of its forthcoming Digital Services Act.

As organizations committed to upholding democratic values and fundamental rights, we see an urgent need to commit internet platforms to a higher level of accountability. The statement, therefore, proposes the DSA introduces binding transparency rules that enable civil society, academia and journalists to gain (privacy-respecting) access to data for research purposes. Learning from best practices, these data access frameworks should include:

  1. binding rules outlining who can directly access data or can apply for access, what specific data can be accessed and how and by whom that data is to be gathered and checked before disclosure;
  2. an EU institution with a clear legal mandate to enable access to data and to enforce transparency obligations in case of non-compliance across the EU27;
  3. provisions that ensure data collection is privacy-respecting and GDPR compliant.

The stakes are high. A healthy democracy depends on a strong and healthy public sphere—and most importantly, a strong and healthy fourth estate. When journalists, academics, and civil society are empowered and free to challenge and scrutinize power, policymakers are kept in check, and the public can make more informed decisions. While there is no single silver bullet to address all of the challenges linked to the platform economy, we are convinced that the proposals outlined above serve as critical baseline demands for improved accountability in the digital public sphere.

The recommendations are the result of the Governing Platforms project, a year-long, civil society-driven dialogue series coordinated by AlgorithmWatch and the European Policy Centre with academic input from the Mainz Media Institute and the University of Amsterdam. 



Read the full paper here.
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