On 25 May 2022, Arcom launched a public consultation on access to data from online platforms for research purposes.
In the context of a global information ecosystem, Arcom has identified a crucial need for research to study dynamics and develop new tools and approaches. The research community has a key role to play in understanding online usage. As the regulator entrusted with systemic regulatory powers over online platform operators since 2018, Arcom is willing to facilitate access to data for researchers.
The lack of a unified framework or availability policy between platforms at national and supranational level creates a complex situation, which in turn has led to initiatives such as the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO) to support competent authorities in their regulatory efforts with issues of online disinformation, including through the use of data from online platforms. Such data, at present, is mainly provided by platforms on a voluntary basis.
Art. 31 of the Digital Services Act creates a procedure for the EU Commission and national authorities (‘Digital Service Coordinators’) to compel access to platform data. Under this framework, regulators can order access for their own monitoring and enforcement purposes or for use by third-party researchers. Under this new model of regulation, researchers would play a key part to facilitate the understanding of socioeconomical, political and cultural dynamics stemming from the modern information ecosystem.
Arcom's objective is to contribute to the debate on accessing data and building an innovative model at the European level: the consultation focuses on the issues over which it has jurisdiction: combatting information manipulation and online hate.
The consultation questions are divided into five main themes:
The deadline to answer the consultation is 22 July 2022. All elements collected by Arcom will be summarised and made public, to provide input for debate on research-related data from online platforms.