Letter to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on study of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (Online Streaming Act)
October 3, 2022
The Honourable Leo Housakos, Chair
Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A4
Dear Mr. Chair:
Subject: Information relating to the European Union’s Digital Services Act
I am writing in follow up to my September 14, 2022, appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications in relation to your study of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (Online Streaming Act). During my appearance, I was asked to provide the Committee with more information on the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA). I am pleased to provide the following in response to this request.
The DSA is part of a legislative package designed to regulate the digital sector. More specifically, it will regulate how intermediary services, such as online platforms and search engines, moderate and manage content.Footnote 1 It was recently passed in the European Parliament in July 2022, and now awaits adoption by the European Council before being signed into law and published into the EU Official Journal.
According to the European Commission, DSA rules will be applicable across the EU fifteen months after entry into force, or from 1 January 2024, whichever is later. By this time, member states will need to have empowered their national authorities to enforce the new rules on smaller platforms and rules concerning non-systemic issues on very large online platforms and very large online search engines. For very large online platforms and very large online search engines (determined on the basis of active users in the EU reported by these service providers), which are directly supervised by the European Commission in regards to systemic obligations, the new rules will apply four months following designation by the Commission.
The Commission has noted that specific rules will be introduced for these very large service providers given their systemic impact in facilitating public debate, economic transactions and the dissemination of information, opinions and ideas.
In introducing this legislation, the Commission recognized the potential wide-ranging effects of algorithms, and the need for algorithmic transparency and regulation. One of its stated goals is to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected.Footnote 2 It contains a number of requirements for online platforms relevant to the protection of privacy, namely:
- A requirement for very large online platforms to offer an option of recommendation systems that is not based on individual profiling;Footnote 3
- A requirement for very large online platforms to conduct risk assessments to identify, analyze, assess, and mitigate systemic risks stemming from the design, including algorithmic systems, functioning and use made of their services;Footnote 4
- A requirement for online platforms to include meaningful information in their terms and conditions about the parameters and criteria used to deliver recommendations to an individual;Footnote 5 and,
- A prohibition on the use of personal data of minors for targeted advertising on online platforms.Footnote 6
Thank you once again for the opportunity to provide my views and I hope these additional points are helpful to your ensuing discussion of this Bill.
(Original signed by)
c.c. Vincent Labrosse,
Clerk of the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
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