The EU e-Commerce Directive, the legal framework for online services in the Internal Market, is set to be updated. In this report, the National Board of Trade Sweden, discusses the arguments for and against a more large-scale reform of the level of liability for platforms

What is the report about?

The report deals with the question how illegal content published on Facebook, Amazon, Google and other digital platforms will be regulated in the future. This question is currently regulated by the EU’s e-commerce directive. The European Commission is about to review the EU legislation. In this report, the National Board of Trade discusses whether the legislation should be updated and, if so, in what way.

What is the purpose of the current legislation on e-commerce?

The regulatory framework requires companies that own platforms to remove illegal content quickly. In view of updating the legislation, it is discussed whether the EU should have more far-reaching requirements, for example that the platform company must remove illegal content within 24 hours or use algorithms to prevent illegal content from being published.

An important issue is to find a balance in the legislation so that platforms effectively remove illegal content while respecting freedom of expression. If the requirements are too strict, there is a risk that platforms also will remove legal content, which will infringe on the freedom of expression.

Are there any particular challenges in this area?

A key challenge for the EU is to find a common regulatory framework on which all member states can agree. Germany and France, for example, have developed new national legislation in this area. There is a risk of fragmented regulations if member states cannot agree at the EU level.

If we do not succeed in developing common rules in the EU, platforms may need to adapt their business to different regulations in different member states. This makes free trade within the EU more difficult. For example, it may be more difficult for companies to use Amazon or Ebay in selling products to other member states. It could also lead to that platforms have less possibility to grow within the EU.

What is the conclusion of the report?

We have not found reasons for a major change in the current regulation. There are strong arguments both for and against a big change, but we do not believe that either side prevails. Instead, we have recommended certain legislative developments to create more harmonisation within the current framework of the EU regulation.

Why is this report important?

An important purpose of current EU legislation, the e-commerce directive, is to ensure the free movement of digital services, including platforms, within the EU. It is important that member states at EU level can agree on common rules that facilitate free movement. Protecting free movement is part of the mission of the National Board of Trade, and through our report, we hope to contribute to the discussions between representatives of EU member states and the EU Commission to develop balanced and common rules in the EU for digital platforms.