European Parliament Embraces the Regulatory PEZ Dispenser Model for Fines on Big Tech

January 24, 2022

I read about the Digital Services Act. “European Parliament Passes Huge Clampdown on Tracking Ads” states:

The European Parliament, the legislative body for the European Union (EU), has voted in favor of its Digital Services Act (DSA), which seeks to limit the power of American internet giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.

That’s mostly on the money. What’s not spelled out is that the procedure of identifying a tracking instance, building a case, adjudicating, appealing, and levying a fine is now official. It’s a procedure. Perhaps a bright French artificial intelligence professional will use Facebook or Google AI components to make the entire process automatic, efficient, and – obviously – without bias. No discrimination! But the DSA is aimed at outfits like Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Nope. Not discriminatory and also not yet a really official thing…yet.

I found this paragraph memorable:

According to the EU, the DSA covers several key areas, including introducing mechanisms by which companies have to remove “illegal” content in a timely manner in a bid to reduce misinformation, increasing requirements on so-called very large online platforms (VLOPs), regulating online ad targeting, and clamping down on dark patterns. The scope and scale of the DSA (and associated DMA) are huge, perhaps the biggest effort yet by a substantial world power (outside of China) to regulate what happens in cyberspace.

How does one redistribute “wealth”? Easy. Create a legal PEZ dispenser, push the plastic likeness of Mr. Bezos, Mr. Zuckerberg, or Mr. Pichai (who is the only one of the PEZ dispensers with AI in his name).

Stephen E Arnold, January 24, 2022


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