It actually happened: last week, MEPs finally stood up and voted for the first major bill to rein in Big Tech’s abusive power. And they wouldn’t have done it without you.
The milestone text – voted through the European Parliament in a late night vote on Thursday – is a historic win for civil society and citizens across the globe. It’s literally the first piece of legislation that will take on the power of the tech giants, and stop them plundering our lives for profit.
This is People Power in action. Silicon Valley billionaires flooded Brussels with an army of lobbyists – and a budget of 97 million euros – to fight this bill. But their cash and their tricks were no match for us, a movement of millions of citizens across Europe demanding an end to Big Tech’s abuses.
WE WON the plenary vote at the European Parliament!
Not only did we see off efforts to water down the proposed Digital Services Act, but we made it STRONGER – winning key late-stage amendments that tackle Big Tech’s toxic business model at its root.
SumOfUs has been at the core of the People vs Big Tech movement, a herculean civil society effort of over 100 organizations, representing over 71 million people across Europe. For months, we’ve been fighting hard, pushing MEPs to stand up for our fundamental rights at every key moment – and in the last few days our pressure reached boiling point!
Ahead of the plenary vote, our movement sent over a thousand tweets targeting key MEPs across Europe in 8 languages. This was way ahead of what anybody expected, and it showed decision-makers just how much citizens want change, all while our partners did an incredible advocacy push with MEPs by calling their offices, sending emails and bringing people's voice to the table.
We even had Maria Ressa, – Nobel Prize winner, renowned journalist and public enemy of dictators – tweeting our content! Ressa was awarded the Nobel prize for her unshakeable fight for the truth. Having her publicly support us is a true milestone for this movement:
All of this gave us a real advantage in influencing MEPs with demands to vote or reject specific provisions ahead of the final vote – and they listened!! Just see what some of them had to say about our efforts:
"This week the people of Europe took back control. People Vs Big Tech campaign allowed to unify civil society and digital rights activists; bringing the debate into the mainstream. The united front paid off when we voted the amendments in plenary, we managed to fight off the media exception, and got a majority for protection against tracking ads. I’m grateful for the work of People Vs Big Tech. You should all be proud of the results achieved!"
MEP Karen Melchior, Danish Social Liberal Party
"I thank all of you, who helped us to expose the interests of the big-tech lobby in the public debate and to ensure objectification. The outcome is a tremendous success. You have opened up the discussion space and brought the debate back to the facts."
MEP Alexandra Geese, Greens
"[The] DSA voting result proved Big Tech's long-lasting campaign - worth millions of euros - couldn't stand the power of all these individuals and civil society organisations defending their rights and interests. Civil society won! We are, as MEP's, but foremost as members of the Tracking-free Ads Coalition, enormously grateful for all your efforts and this powerful result! We are not there yet. However, by continuing this cooperation and unity, I'm confident we will effectively limit the harmful practices of a few and make the many powerful. Many thanks once again!"
MEP Paul Tang, Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
"We made a number of groundbreaking steps! Thank you for creating a strong movement, raising the momentum and making sure people’s voices were heard, to counter big tech’s lobbying efforts. We’ll keep up the fight for more fundamental change in the next years. Together we will end the divisive recommender algorithms and toxic business models for once and for all."
MEP Kim Van de Sparrantak, Greens
The most important wins achieved in the DSA text are:
- MEPs voted to outlaw the most invasive practices of targeted advertising #MyDataIsMine
- We defeated a "trade secrets" exemption, which would give platforms a loophole to be shielded from accountability, which would have undermined crucial data access and scrutiny provisions in the DSA. This win widened access to platform data for third-party researchers including civil society!
- They voted down what would have effectively mandated the continued algorithmic promotion of content from any outlet calling itself media, even if the content was disinformation.
This isn’t just the result of a few days – but months of tireless campaigning. Since last summer, this community has sent thousands of emails and tweets to MEPs; created viral social media content; published headline-grabbing research exposing the worst impacts of Big Tech; and taken our message to the doors of parliaments – with incredible offline actions that were splashed in media across the world.
Tens of thousands of us signed a People’s Declaration against Big Tech, and a 90,000-strong petition showing support for brave whistleblowers like Frances Haugen (we even featured on Netflix satirical "Death to 2021!"). We sent countless advocacy emails; showed up to ahead of every key debate and vote; created a website; ran digital ads rallying support and targeting the platforms, and so much more. And everything in dozens of languages!
Before this text is finally adopted across the EU, the European Council has to agree to it. So we’ll need to keep pushing hard in the coming months to make sure the bill stays strong.
This herculean fight won’t be over until the bill is fully passed. But, we kick off this next phase stronger than ever before!
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