EU committee urges stricter regulations on addictive design in digital platforms

The report underscores the need for legislation, particularly for vulnerable groups, and advocates for research, the prohibition of addictive practices, and safety measures for children.

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In a significant development, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee has passed a report with strong backing, calling for tighter regulations to combat addictive design in digital platforms.

The report, with a particular focus on child protection and the adverse effects of social media, highlights the lack of regulations addressing addiction to digital platforms and social media, likening it to the regulation of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. It also recommends the European Commission consider legislative measures to address this issue, focusing on vulnerable groups, and calls for research on addictive design, the prohibition of certain practices and addictive techniques, and policies to promote safe digital services for children.

As for social media usage, the report emphasizes the need for users to control attention-seeking features and recommends restrictions on screen time, awareness campaigns, and educational efforts.

The report’s adoption in plenary is expected in December or January and will play a pivotal role in the ongoing assessment of consumer law in the European Union.

Why does it matter?

The need for protecting children from the addictive tactics deployed by digital platforms is a global concern, transcending borders among major economies like China, the USA, and the EU. Notably, the US has taken legislative steps, with New York proposing a bill to curb features that fuel incessant scrolling, a practice detrimental to youth mental health and development. Meanwhile, Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, faces a substantial federal lawsuit from multiple US states, accusing it of knowingly deploying addictive features while concealing associated risks, violating consumer protection laws, and infringing on privacy regulations for children under 13. In China, the Cyberspace Administration unveiled draft regulations in August, introducing a ‘minor mode’ on devices, including smartphones and tablets, to restrict content and device usage based on a child’s age. While these countries diverge on various digital-related aspects, including privacy, data flow, and data localization, their shared concern for protecting the younger generation remains a common thread.