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Google, Facebook and others to face tougher regulations

Google headquarters Zurich
Big online platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter, have a lot of influence with the public but are hardly regulated at the moment. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The Swiss government plans new legislation to make big online platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter more transparent and give users more rights.

Such platforms have increasing influence with the public, but are hardly regulated at the moment, notes a government press releaseExternal link on Wednesday. “The systems that decide what content is displayed to which user are opaque,” it says. “Users are furthermore in a weak position vis-à-vis the companies that run these platforms.” For example, a platform can block a user’s account or delete content that they post and users currently have little or no recourse.

The environment, transport, energy and communications ministry will therefore prepare a bill for consultation on this issue by the end of March 2024. Where appropriate, the new regulations are to be based on those in the European Union’s Digital Services ActExternal link, says the government.

According to the press release, large platforms will be required to have a point of contact and a legal representative in Switzerland. Users whose content has been deleted or whose account has been blocked should be able to directly ask the platform to review the measure. An independent Swiss arbitration board is also to be set up, to be funded by the platforms themselves.

In order to boost transparency, platforms will be required to indicate all advertising as such and, in the case of targetted ads, to “publish the main parameters according to which advertisements are displayed”, so that it is possible to know who receives which advertisement for what reasons.

Finally, users should be able to easily report hate speech, depictions of violence and threatening language to the platforms, who “are required to review the reports and inform the users of the outcome”.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR