European official warns Musk era of ‘Wild West’ freedom of speech is over: ‘There will be sanctions’

European politician Věra Jourová warned Elon Musk of the World Economic Forum in Davos that Twitter will face “sanctions” if it does not stop some forms of expression.

Jourová, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency, told Euronews Next that Twitter could face punishment for facilitating freedom of expression in violation of European Union rules. “The days of the Wild West are over,” she said.

“We will have the Digital Services Act [DSA]. We will have the code of practice as part of this legislation,” Jourová said. “So after Mr. Musk took over Twitter with his ‘free speech’, we are also the protectors of freedom of speech. But at the same time, for example, we cannot accept illegal content online and so on. So our message was clear: we have rules that must be complied with, otherwise sanctions will follow.”

European Commission Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency Věra Jourová on Musk's leadership on Twitter.

European Commission Vice-President for Values ​​and Transparency Věra Jourová on Musk’s leadership on Twitter.
(Euronews Next screenshot)

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New European legislation could fine tech companies for leaving freedom of expression unchecked.

“A series of new legislation, including the DSA and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), was signed by the EU Parliament in October 2022 and is expected to come into force later this year,” Euronews reported. “Under the new regulatory framework, which aims to protect online users’ rights and remove illegal content or disinformation, platforms can expect to be fined up to 6 percent of their annual revenue if they are caught by EU regulators in breaching the law. lines.”

Jourová also said that in previous years, European politicians and big tech companies had “gentlemen’s agreements” and ways to negotiate other than legislation.

Twitter remains one of the most critical platforms on the internet for politicians and journalists around the world, and Musk's takeover in the name of free speech has outraged many of them.

Twitter remains one of the most critical platforms on the internet for politicians and journalists around the world, and Musk’s takeover in the name of free speech has outraged many of them.
(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

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We had some ‘gentlemen’s agreements’, such as the code of conduct against hate speech, which was very important in 2016 when we saw an extreme increase in hate online targeting concrete people or groups of citizens,” she said, according to Euronews. “So I combine always like decent communication and discussion, and testing how far they can go in the context of some kind of social responsibility.”

Jourová made headlines on Tuesday when she suggested that America will soon have its own hate speech laws.

“What qualifies as hate speech, as illegal hate speech, which you will soon have in the US as well,” she told fellow World Economic Forum panelist Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. “I think we have a strong case for why we have this in criminal law. We need the platforms to just work with the language and identify cases like that.”

Elon Musk acquired Twitter after the Christian satire website The Babylon Bee was started for making a joke mocking transgender politics.

Elon Musk acquired Twitter after the Christian satire website The Babylon Bee was started for making a joke mocking transgender politics.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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Musk’s leadership on Twitter has been a notable departure from restrictive speech trends, both on Twitter itself and Big Tech in general. In late December, Musk proclaimed, “The new Twitter policy is to follow the science, which necessarily includes reasoned questioning of the science.”

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