The consultation trap

Tuesday, Jun 2, 2020

Today the Commission published its long awaited public consultation on the Digital Services Act [announcement , pdf consultation document]. While such consultations are certainly intersting and answering to them is important, we should also not over estimate the importance such consultations play in shaping legislation. Historically the EU’s track record with listening to consultation responses is rather bad. In the case of the copyright directive, where the 2016 proposal was preceded by a broad public consultation in 2014, the responses to the consultation where largely ignored and the issues that would turn into the most controversial parts of the legislative proposal where not even part of the consultation.

Instead, while civil society and academia spend their ressources on responding to the consultation (and in other public fora such as hearings), the entertainment industry was busy pushing its own agenda and narratives via closed door meetings with high ranking commission officials.

To shape the outcome of the discussion on the Digital Services Act, we will need to make sure that we are not too focussed on public feedback. Instead we will focus on building narratives and reach out to the decision makers on the political level.