EU member states, the European Commission, and the European Parliament have reached agreement on new rules requiring large tech companies to do more to police illegal content on their platforms and to pay a fee to regulators monitoring their compliance.
The agreement came after more than 16 hours of negotiations.
The Digital Services Act (DSA) is the second prong of European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager’s strategy to rein in Alphabet unit Google, Meta, and other US tech giants.
Ms Vestager is also Executive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age.
Announcing the news on social media, she said: “We have a deal on the DSA: The Digital Services Act will make sure that what is illegal offline is also seen and dealt with as illegal online – not as a slogan, as reality.”
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune welcomed the agreement, saying that internet users in Ireland will benefit from the act.
“The new rules will put to an end to the digital Wild West where big platforms set the rules and criminal content can go viral,” she said.
Under the DSA, companies face fines up to 6% of their global turnover for violating the rules while repeated breaches could see them banned from doing business in the EU.
The new rules ban targeted advertising aimed at children or based on sensitive data such as religion, gender, race, and political opinions.
Dark patterns, which are tactics that mislead people into giving personal data to companies online, will also be prohibited.
The companies also face a yearly fee up to 0.1% of worldwide annual net income to cover the costs of monitoring their compliance, which could bring in between €20m and €30m annually for the EU.
The new law could have big implications for tech giants such as Facebook parent Meta, Google and Twitter – companies that have their European Headquarters in Ireland.
Google said that it welcomed the goals of the Digital Services Act of making the internet even more safe, transparent and accountable, while ensuring that European users, creators and businesses continue to benefit from the open web.
“As the law is finalised and implemented, the details will matter,” a Google spokesperson said.
“We look forward to working with policymakers to get the remaining technical details right to ensure the law works for everyone.”
The 27 member states and the EU institutions last month backed Ms Vestager’s landmark rules called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), that could force Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft to change their core business practices in Europe.