Federal Council seeks to regulate large communication platforms
Bern, 05.04.2023 - The Swiss population is to be given more rights vis-à-vis large communication platforms such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and should be able to demand transparency from them. The Federal Council has therefore instructed the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC to prepare a draft bill for consultation on the regulation of communication platforms.
Members of the public increasingly get their information via communication platforms such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and form their opinions on this basis. The platforms thus have a considerable influence on public debate.
Currently, however, such platforms are hardly regulated. The systems that decide what content is displayed to which user are opaque. Users are furthermore in a weak position vis-à-vis the companies that run these platforms. For example, a platform may block a user's account or delete content that they post, and at present users have little or no opportunity for recourse.
The Federal Council therefore wants to strengthen the rights of users in Switzerland and demand more transparency from the platforms without limiting their positive influence on freedom of expression. New legislation is necessary to achieve this.
The new legislation will apply to operators of large communication platforms (intermediaries). The authorities' powers to intervene in content will not be any greater than those in the non-digital sphere. Where appropriate, the new regulations are to be based on those in the European Union's Digital Services Act.
Main aspects of the legislation
The Federal Council's bill for consultation will pursue the following lines of approach:
- 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. In addition, an independent Swiss arbitration board is to be set up; this will have to be funded by the platforms themselves.
- To create greater transparency, platforms will be required to indicate all advertising as such and, in the case of target group specific advertising, publish the main parameters according to which advertisements are displayed. As a result, it will be possible to determine who receives a particular advertisement and for what reasons.
- Users should be able to easily report hate speech, depictions of violence and threatening language to the platforms. The platforms are required to review the reports and inform the users of the outcome.
The Federal Council has instructed DETEC, with the involvement of the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), to prepare a bill for consultation on this issue by the end of March 2024.
Address for enquiries
Federal Office of Communications OFCOM, Press Service, Tel. +41 58 460 55 50, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Federal Council
Federal Office of Communications
General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC