The European Commission on Tuesday published the first annual self-assessments of the signatories to the Code of Practice on Disinformation. These are from online platforms and tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft and will assist the Commission in assessing whether the Code is working or whether further measures "including of a regulatory nature" are required.
Any conclusions from the Commission will not land until early 2020 and so one would expect that - if regulation was considered by the Commission to be in order - it would be implemented in a post-Brexit world. It will in any case be interesting to see how the ongoing discussions on the regulation of online platforms in the EU parallel those in the UK, where we await the Government's response to the consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, which proposed the creation of a statutory duty of care, increased duties of monitoring for certain types of content and a separate regulator who would have enforcement powers over online platforms.
The self-assessment reports indicate comprehensive efforts by the signatories to implement their commitments over the last 12 months. The Code, as a self-regulatory standard, has provided an opportunity for greater transparency into the platforms’ policies on disinformation as well as a framework for structured dialogue to monitor, improve and effectively implement those policies. This represents progress over the situation prevailing before the Code’s entry into force, while further serious steps by individual signatories and the community as a whole are still necessary.