The European Union agreed on new digital regulations Saturday that will force tech giants like Google and Meta to police illegal content on their platforms more aggressively, or else risk potential multibillion-dollar fines.

The European Parliament and EU member states reached a deal on the Digital Services Act, a landmark piece of legislation that aims to address illegal and harmful content by getting platforms to rapidly take it down.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issued a statement calling the law “historic.”

“The DSA will upgrade the ground-rules for all online services in the EU,” von der Leyen said. “It will ensure that the online environment remains a safe space, safeguarding freedom of expression and opportunities for digital businesses. It gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline, should be illegal online. The greater the size, the greater the responsibilities of online platforms.”

The suspect in a shooting in northwest Washington, DC, that left four people wounded on Friday afternoon has died, DC Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said.

“The suspect that we believe is responsible for this is now deceased,” said Contee, who declined to name the suspect pending notification of next of kin. “We believe that the suspect took his own life as MPD members were entering or breaching the apartment where the suspect was located.
Police are not looking for another suspect, Contee said.
Officers recovered six firearms inside the apartment where they found the suspect, Contee said, including “several long guns, multiple, multiple rounds of ammunition, and handguns as well.” The investigation is ongoing, he said, adding that police do not have a motive at this point for the shooting.
He said they do not believe there were any other shooters beside the dead suspect, and are not sure of any connection between the suspect and the nearby Edmund Burke School, a college prep school in northwest Washington.
“This was very much a sniper-type setup with a tripod, and this person, obviously, his intent was to kill and hurt members of our community,” Contee said, adding the suspect was shooting from north to south.
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So-called dark patterns — deceptive tactics designed to push people toward certain products and service — will be banned as well.

Tech companies will be required to implement new procedures designed to take down illegal material such as hate speech, incitement to terrorism and child sexual abuse. E-commerce marketplaces like Amazon must also prevent sales of illegal goods under the new rules.

Failure to comply with the rules may result in fines of up to 6% of companies’ global annual revenues. For a company like Meta, the parent company of Facebook, that could mean a penalty as high as $7 billion based on 2021 sales figures.

The DSA is separate from the Digital Markets Act, which EU institutions approved last month. Both come with the threat of hefty fines. But whereas the DMA seeks to curb Big Tech firms’ market power, the DSA is all about making sure platforms get rid of toxic content quickly.

The law will affect user-generated content sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok.

Brussels has a long history of taking internet giants to task over competition abuses and data privacy.

The bloc has leveled a combined 8.2 billion euros ($8.8 billion) in fines against Google over antitrust violations, and has active investigations into Amazon, Apple and Meta.

In 2018, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation, a sweeping set of privacy rules aimed at giving consumers more control over their information.

It comes as policymakers in Washington wrangle with the question of how to rein in the power of large tech companies and get them to clean up their platforms of harmful content. On Thursday, former President Barack Obama said the tech industry needs regulation to address the spread of online disinformation.

“For too long, tech platforms have amplified disinformation and extremism with no accountability,” former U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted Thursday.

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