London, June 16 (IANS) Big Tech platforms like Meta, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and others on Thursday signed up to a new “Code of Practice on disinformation” in the European Union (EU).
The 34 signatories, such as platforms, tech companies and civil society followed the 2021 Commission Guidance and took into account the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 crisis and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.
The new Code sets out extensive and precise commitments by platforms and industry to fight disinformation and marks another important step for a more transparent, safe and trustworthy online environment, the European Commission said in a statement.
Notable, some Big Tech companies like Apple and Telegram are yet to sign the code.
“We now have very significant commitments to reduce the impact of disinformation online and much more robust tools to measure how these are implemented across the EU in all countries and in all its languages,” said Vera Jourova, Vice-President for Values and Transparency.
“This new anti-disinformation Code comes at a time when Russia is weaponising disinformation as part of its military aggression against Ukraine, but also when we see attacks on democracy more broadly,” Jourova added.
The new Code will also reduce financial incentives for disseminating disinformation and allow researchers to access to platforms’ data more easily.”
“To be credible, the new Code of Practice will be backed up by the DSA (Digital Services Act), including for heavy dissuasive sanctions. Very large platforms that repeatedly break the Code and do not carry out risk mitigation measures properly risk fines of up to 6 per cent of their global turnover,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
The 34 signatories include major online platforms, notably Meta, Google, Twitter, TikTok and Microsoft, as well as a variety of other players like smaller or specialised platforms, the online ad industry, ad-tech companies, fact-checkers, civil society or that offer specific expertise and solutions to fight disinformation.
The strengthened Code aims to address the shortcomings of the previous Code, with stronger and more granular commitments and measures, which build on the operational lessons learnt in the past years.
Signatories will have six months to implement the commitments and measures to which they have signed up.
At the beginning of 2023, they will provide the Commission with their first implementation reports.