European Commission tech chief says EU would have banned Trump too

The European Commission’s digital chief insists the US big tech companies were right to block President Trump from their platforms, and suggested the European Union would have done the same if the power was in their hands.

Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s Vice President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age (stick that on a business card) told Politico that under new EU proposals for tackling hate speech, the EU would also have intervened and stopped the former President from engaging with his supporters online.

“I can’t say I would have done it differently if I was in their shoes,” said Vestager.

The remarks are indicative of the stance the Commission would take, if in charge, on balancing the restriction of harmful content with upholding the cornerstone of democratic values, freedom of expression.

The proposed Digital Services Act is Europe’s attempt to grab power back from the tech giants, ensuring regulation is in the hands of lawmakers, not unaccountable private companies.

But unlike an impending law digital free speech in Poland, which could be replicated elsewhere, it appears the EU’s aim is to beat tech giants to the punch when it comes to shutting people down.

“But with the Digital Services Act, the point is that it shouldn’t have gotten that far. There would have been interaction with the user along the way” said Vestager, in remarks that could suggest the EU would have wanted a figure like the US President banned even sooner than Twitter did.

Her comments run counter to noises coming from many member states, once again highlighting how out of touch the Commission is.

German premier Angela Merkel said the decision to ban the US President was “problematic” while key figures in the Polish and Hungarian governments have hit out at the tech giants for censoring right-wing views.