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EU dooms doomscrolling doomed - here is why that is not controversial

There is an ancient (in IT that is more than 10 years) proverb: "America innovates, China copies, India supports and Europe regulates.” With the Digital Service Act and Digital Markets Act, aimed at so called Tech Gigants and imitations hereof, EU is trying to tame the gunslingers of the Virtual Wild West. 

“The tech giants think only with the wallet and do not take into account the interests of society. But we have to make demands and make legislation, and it will have to be on a European level if it is to work.” MEP Christel Schaldemose said to Danish State Broadcaster DR.

She was the lead negotiator on aforementioned Digital Service Act, and have already decided the Act is not enough and further tightening is needed:

“We must make demands on the tech giants that they simply must not make a design that gets people addicted. We have to get into the core, into the algorithms and into the business model that governs that we are getting caught up on their platforms indefinitely.” says Christel Schaldemose, who acknowledges that the EU has been too slow to see the danger of the tech giants.

Just as it took time for societies to grasp the implications of gambling or smoking and propose regulation, so it has done this time with the way our Social Media works. The process of the whole thing being almost 1:1 what we saw with tobacco 30 years ago. Scientists sound the alarm, legislators start paying attention, the industry denies any bad effects and so forth, until eventually some sort of regulation is in place. Same old same old.

The industry backlash is predictable bordering tedious:

Words like tyranni and censorship inevitably rains down on anyone ready to regulate, mainly coming from those with a vested interest in the proceeds of a deregulated this or that, or simply someone who is anti-regulation altogether and would rather prefer a traffic accident than having intersections with traffic lights. While most of the Industry is coming down on Schaldemose (and her enforcing comerade, Commissioner Vestager - also from Denmark), their arguments seem unsubstatiated. 

At we Gabiray encourage everyone to take pause and reflect:

Just like we regulate cigarettes, alcohol and gambling, all things that causes addiction, of course we shall regulate the addiction that is created by endless online scrolling.

A recent report finds that children under 13 should probably not have a smart phone at all, and people under 18 shall not be allowed onto social media. While proposing such legislation would be easy, enforcing it will be difficult. Furthermore, what about people over 18 (and yeah, also us well over 18)? It is just as unlikely that doomscrolling is not affecting our brains, as it is unlikely that puffing away is not affecting our lungs.

But in a world where Russian and Chinese citizens can avoid their government imposed limitations to the internet, it is silly not to think EU citizens (under 18, 13 or whatever) will do exactly the same, should a ban on SoMe below a certain age come into effect. It will be easier than asking your older friend to buy you fags or booze.

Some form of regulation is called for, but we urge both the legislators and the industry to open up the discussion to the wider audience. Balancing the indvidual rights while avoiding the adverse effects of the new technology, requires an open and frank discussion, where everyone has the possibility to take part. Because unlike alcohol, gambling and tobacco, we are all users of the new technology and thus, its regulation concerns us all.


Sources:

https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/ep-valg/macron-oensker-eu-opgoer-med-techgiganterne-hvorfor-sender-vi-frivilligt

https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/ep-valg/vestager-er-klar-til-nye-svaerdslag-med-tech-giganter-hvis-eu-lov-er

https://www.dr.dk/nyheder/politik/ep-valg/evigheds-scrolling-skal-vaere-slut-eu-politikere-vil-gaa-efter-tech

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-holding-and-scrolling-a-black-smartphone-63572/

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