A small group of people, with a hidden agenda, will decide what can be published online, according to a Romanian MEP, well-known for the conspiracy theories he promotes.
References to “1984”, the eternal justification of conspiracy theories
NEWS: MEP Cristian Terheș says the European Union has turned a page out of George Orwell's book "1984" into reality with its plan to create "ministries of truth", with the aim of cracking down on what it decides is "online disinformation". This "Orwellian Minister of Truth" will make sure that incorrect thoughts are banned. Under a draconian new law that came into effect on August 25, web bosses are expected to prioritize recommendations made to them by an EU-approved network of "fact checkers" who monitor information posted online.
Cristian Terheș, member of both the Romanian and the European Parliament, has stated that the Law on Digital Services gives the bloc enough power to decide which content is true and which is false from what will be published on the websites and platforms of some of the largest providers in world. He told The Telegraph: "The European Commission has taken a page out of Orwell's '1984' and called on the EU member states to set up government-sponsored ministries of truth to make sure wrong thoughts and banned words are not allowed into the digital space. Certainly, in a democratic society, it is the public, which hears or has access to all evidence, that decides on the truth or desirability of certain facts, ideas or parties. Rather, it is the people who must hear and decide what they believe to be true or desirable, not government bodies.
NARRATIVE: In the near future, the digital space will be entirely controlled by a small group of people who will censor opinions that oppose the occult interests of the world government.
CONTEXT: The legal framework for the digital space has revolved around the European e-commerce directive , adopted in 2000 and which has stayed unchanged for twenty years. During all this time, the digital context has experienced a fulminant evolution, which will certainly continue in the next period of time. Thus, recommendation systems and online advertising have come to play an extremely important role in filtering the information that reaches consumers. The internet is also a medium for the spread of propaganda and false narratives (fake news, disinformation) that have an impact on the public and societies – see for example the Brexit campaign or the lots of disinformation about Covid because of which so many people rejected social distancing measures and vaccination, which in some cases proved fatal.
At the same time, the volume of online sales of counterfeit, dangerous or illegal products is increasing, as is hate speech or child sexual abuse material, to name just a few examples of issues arising from the use of digital services, problems that 20 years ago could not be foreseen. Cyberspace has become not only an area of entertainment and commercial competition, but also one of confrontation and conflict between individuals, organizations and even states. At the same time, we are witnessing an accelerated transition of most human activities to a digital format, seen as a key element for economic and social development. In this sense, the existence of certain rules and criteria for the presence of data in the digital space has become an increasingly pressing issue, and local and international authorities are looking for various methods of regulating information circulated online.
At the level of the European Union, the various bodies with responsibilities in the field are working on the adoption of laws to regulate the digital environment. All these efforts have been concentrated in several packages of rules, the most important being the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). They are part of the European digital strategy, by means of which the EU aims to strengthen the single market for digital services, promote innovation and the competitiveness of the European online environment in relation to the American and Asian markets.
This is not the first conspiratorial position for the member of the Alliance for the Union of Romanians Party (AUR) Cristian Terheș, elected member of the European Parliament on a joint PSD-PNȚCD list. In full pandemic and vaccination campaign, in November 2021, he was accused by the Western press of disseminating false information in the European Parliament , along with six other MEPs. Later, on several occasions, Terheș denounced an occult plot aimed at starving the population that would refuse the digital wallet and digital identity.
PURPOSE: To validate personal conspiracy theories, to weaken trust in the governing bodies of the European Union and other Western international organizations.
Antitrust policies are not censorship
WHY THE NARRATIVE IS FALSE: The two sets of rules mentioned above, DSA and DMA, do not aim in any way to establish digital censorship in the European space. In principle, the introduction of the new regulations aims to create a clear legal framework, delimiting the responsibilities of digital services, as well as implementing a set of rules aimed at the activity of large online platforms. The measures aim to ensure they behave fairly, both towards users and potential competitors, and to eliminate their monopolistic practices, so that consumers benefit from a wider range of choices and the European market remains competitive and open to innovation. Through these regulations, the European Commission aims to strengthen an EU digital single market and increase the accountability of digital service providers, while ensuring a fair playing field for all players in the market.
For example, in the case of phone manufacturers, the DSA could prohibit the pre-installation of their own applications on the manufactured devices, and users would be free to choose what software they want to use. Also, forcing the use of a specific email provider to access other services provided by the platform (as the Android operating system does, requesting a Gmail address) will be prohibited. E-commerce platforms will no longer be able to preferentially display their own offers over others, they will no longer be allowed to provide user data to third-party companies for the purpose of determining their purchasing behavior patterns, and they will no longer be able to combine data collected with those from third parties, without the explicit consent of the users.
Another advantage is the impact that DMA and DSA will have on European companies in the global digital services market. More and more voices are saying that, being at an obvious disadvantage compared to the competition, they must benefit from a preferential treatment from the European decision-makers. Through these regulations, the EU wants to increase the competitive advantage of European companies, both by attracting investments and high-level workforce, and by minimizing the gaps that separate European companies from American and Asian ones. The new measures are specifically designed to halt Europe's innovation decline and increase European global competitiveness. Thus, the implementation of these measures should encourage EU companies to increase the rate of innovation in digital services, and this will lead to new business opportunities that European firms should take full advantage of.
In essence, the DSA will be able to impose certain obligations on large online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft or Apple, in the sense of holding them accountable for better and more efficient filtering of published information. But that does not mean censoring the "thoughts" and opinions of the population. After all, imposing rules that do not allow incitement to violence or the propagation of false information should be, even for conspiracy theorists, good news and an end in itself.