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Access to platforms’ data for vetted researchers? not a smart move

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It is an idea that managed to reach a consensus among lobbyists, researchers, lawmakers, platforms and made its way to the Digital Services Act, the regulation that will be one backbone of how European democracy deals with the Internet. Access to data for vetted researchers is article n31 of the Digital Services Act and it is a bad idea. At first, sight it may sound good to put together “access”; “data” and “researchers” in the same regulation, and to secure it by adding “vetted”. But when looking in-depth the picture is more troubling. Let’s ask ourselves the following three questions: what kind of access, what is “data” and what is a “vetted researcher”? What we really need is platform transparency, public access and whistleblowers (and the Facebook papers leaked by Frances Haugen to be made available for everyone). Dura Lex Sed Lex Officially called “Data Access and Scrutiny” the article 31 of the DSA considers that platforms would grant access to “data” for some “vetted researchers” “for the sole purpose of conducting research that contributes to the identification and understanding of systemic risks” What is a systemic risk one may ask? Systemic risks are defined in article 26 of the DSA and cover the following: Dissemination of illegal content. Negative effects for the exercise of the fundamental rights to respect for private and family life, freedom of expression and information, the prohibition of discrimination and the rights of the child. Intentional manipulation of their service, including by means of inauthentic…

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