“Rogue actors” will be able to exploit the European Union’s newly agreed media European Media Freedom Act (EMFA), an industry group has claimed.
The European Parliament and the European Council agreed on the EMFA on December 15. The provisional legislation will largely require social media outlets to give media companies 24 hours’ notice when they want to delete content relating to any of their news stories.
Within that time frame, barring unspecified “crisis” circumstances, Big Tech firms will be required to keep the content available online.
The European branch of the Computer & Communications Industry Association warned that the legislation would open a “loophole” for fake news media outlets to spread disinformation online.
“The EMFA’s 24-hour must-carry obligation could end up creating a dangerous loophole,” said the CCIA Europe’s Senior Policy Manager Mathilde Adjutor.
She added that the bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA) had “wisely” not restricted social media efforts to clamp down on fake news, expressing hope that the EMFA would end up taking a similar stance.
CCIA Europe also warned that the rule could prevent social media outlets from managing real news stories uploaded online that are inappropriate for children, as doing so might fall under illegal censorship under the planned legislation.
The European Union’s proposed free-speech legislation is “too weak” and does not reflect legal reality, lawyers and media professionals have told Brussels Signal. https://t.co/PRVSOATiYq
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) December 5, 2023
The industry group’s views on the new legislation vary from those held by the EU institutions.
Officials from the Council and Parliament have celebrated the planned legislation, with one MEP describing the agreed bill as a “huge win” for media freedom within the EU.
European People’s Party MEP Sabine Verheyen said: “We have managed to secure all of Parliament’s most important demands: editors will be more independent in their decisions, media ownership will be more transparent, and media freedom will not be restricted by big platforms.
“This is a significant legislative milestone to safeguard the diversity and freedom of our media and protect our democracies.”
Spain’s Minister for Culture Ernest Urtasun described the agreed text as cementing the EU’s status as a “world leader in protecting journalists”.
“Democracy cannot exist without media freedom, independence and plurality,” he said.
According to Urtasun, EMFA will guarantee “the independence of media providers”, as well as ensuring “that citizens have access to a wide and diverse range of reliable news sources”.
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 31, 2023