Digital technologies and innovations are becoming an integral part of our daily lives. We work, study, entertain or use various services digitally. Internet platforms are growing at an unparalleled pace. There are about 10,000 of them in Europe alone, and the value of the 100 largest platforms in the world exceeds 10 trillion euros. Therefore, as digital technologies continue to evolve, it is important that people understand how they work and trust them. About what kind of digital future awaits us and how the European Union contributes to its security, September 2-3. the representative office of the European Commission in Lithuania will invite to debate at the discussion festival “Būtent!”.
Why was it necessary to make changes?
When asked why he decided to initiate a discussion on the topic “Our digital future. What do algorithms and technology giants serve?”, Marius Vaščega, head of the European Commission’s representation in Lithuania, mentioned algorithms and the often limited possibilities of startups.
“Algorithms are kind of black boxes that have a big impact on our choices and perception of the world. We also have systemic violations of fair competition in the digital world. Therefore, we want the digital world to stop being the Wild West and for consumers to trust digital technologies more, and for companies to better take advantage of the opportunities they provide,” says the interviewer.
The era of “too big to fail” banks ended a decade ago, he said. Now the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts adopted by the EU will ensure that large internet platforms will not be able to act as they wish. M. Vaščega explains that from now on the entire EU market, which has 450 million users, the same rules of the digital world will apply. Experts will also discuss these innovations in Biršton.
“The main rule set by the Digital Services Act, which protects the rights of users, is what is prohibited offlinemust be illegal and online. This means that digital platforms must inform the public about how their algorithms and systems work to select the content we see on our screens.
Meanwhile, the Digital Markets Act, which creates a fair and open internet market, declares that with size comes power, and with it comes even greater responsibility. Many digital platforms have long gone beyond the role of simple intermediaries. They set the rules of the game for small businesses who have no choice but to use their services to reach customers. Therefore, the largest platforms cannot behave unfairly towards startups”, says M. Vaščega, who is preparing for the discussion.
We will feel safer in the digital space
After talking about how technology giants react to changes, the head of the European Commission’s representative office in Lithuania notes that changes were inevitable. “In individual cases, we can draw their attention to inappropriate behavior, give remarks or punish them, but when we see systemic problems in the digital world, regulation and clear rules are needed. Digital services rules adopted at the EU level will help create a safer and more open digital space based on respect for fundamental rights,” says the expert.
Speaking about the benefits of decisions adopted by the EU in the future, Mr. Vaščega says that Internet users will be even better protected from illegal activities and the risk of purchasing dangerous or low-quality goods. “People will be provided with a safer internet environment, allowing them to freely express their thoughts, communicate and buy online,” the interviewer adds.
Europeans will also get even more information about the content recommended by social media. This will help us understand, for example, whether a specific advertisement or recommendation is specifically aimed at us and who and how is trying to influence us. According to M. Vaščega, with this information, we will be able to more easily decide whether to trust the content that reaches us.
In addition, all users will be able to report illegal content found online, as well as unauthorized products. Also, in cases where Internet platforms decide to remove content posted by users, they will be able to challenge this decision in defense of their rights.
The best ideas are born in discussion
The initiators of the discussion will invite the listeners to think together about how Europeans’ privacy, freedom of speech and responsibility on the Internet will look like in the future, how legal acts adopted by the EU will help ensure them in everyday life, and where the responsibility of online platforms begins and ends.
The discussion format not only allows you to hear and listen to different points of view, but also helps to search for answers to the questions that concern everyone together. “Discussions are great because, on the one hand, they bring people with different ideas, knowledge and opinions to a common table. On the other hand, the differences between the participants of the discussion do not oppose, but rather bring them together. After all, the goal of a good discussion is not to overcome those who think otherwise, but to find the best solutions for everyone together and improve in this way”, M. Vašcega, head of the European Commission’s representation in Lithuania, shares his thoughts.
For the fourth time in Biršton in 2022. The upcoming debate festival “Būtent!” is an open, non-political, free event, the purpose of which is to promote a culture of debate and listening, tolerance for different points of view, civic engagement and improving the quality of socially important decisions in the country.
Hear more about this and other discussions live on September 2-3. Biršton!