It Begins: The EU Summons Musk To Appear Before Them

from the you-might-find-going-to-mars-easier-than-all-this dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about how the EU seemed to practically be salivating over getting its hands on Elon Musk now that he owned Twitter. The first half of that post was about how he was at risk of running afoul of his GDPR commitments, potentially allowing the jurisdiction over GDPR enforcement to fall away from just the Irish data protection authority and to any other EU authority. That’s notable because many people believe that the Irish DPC is way too friendly to the companies they regulate. For the time being, Musk may have staved off the GDPR issue by naming an “acting data protection officer” (DPO) to be the main point of contact with the Irish.

However, much of the article talked about the upcoming Digital Services Act in the EU, and how Elon had (ridiculously, stupidly) said publicly that he completely agreed with its approach, even as Twitter had been actively pushing back on the problems with the DSA.

Some aspects of the DSA have now officially entered into force, though it’s all really in a preliminary state, as the really serious stuff doesn’t kick off until early 2024. But there are some requirements in the meantime, including Twitter needing to report how many active users it has to the European Commission to determine if it’s designated as a “Very Large Online Platform” (VLOP), though I prefer the comment a friend in the space recently made calling them ROUS (from The Princess Bride).

As TechCrunch is reporting, it’s unclear how much Twitter has done to be ready to comply, as the entire drama with Musk and the takeover going back many months likely stalled some of the decision-making. And… that might be a problem if no one is left to pay attention:

TechCrunch has also heard concerns about Twitter’s ability to comply with the DSA from another direction. A source familiar with how Twitter was preparing for dialled up EU regulation — pre-Musk takeover — told us “lots” of work had been done but said it’s all been “stymied” by the transition.

As if on cue, the European Parliament (not the European Commission…) has now decided to summon Musk to show up and explain what the fuck he’s doing.

While much of this is just grandstanding, not unlike when Congress summons tech CEOs, it’s not at all clear that Musk has any clue how to actually deal with the EU, and the fairly complex nature of the DSA and what’s expected of him (if you’re interested in understanding just how messy the DSA is, listen to our recent podcast with two DSA experts).

Musk, of course, will say that he has plenty of experience dealing with foreign regulators and policymakers (and enforcers) as he’s had to deal with them at Tesla and SpaceX. But everything he’s said and done to date suggests he has no clue about the details and nuances (and political realities) as it pertains to regulations around speech, the internet, and social media. I can’t imagine any of this will end well.

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Companies: twitter

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Comments on “It Begins: The EU Summons Musk To Appear Before Them”

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17 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Fanboys have been suggesting that since the site didn’t instantly combust, those people weren’t really needed.

Utter nonsense of course, but it can theoretically shamble along for a while without help if the old staff did their jobs properly. It’s the updating, competing and relevance that will be a problem long term.

As for his wealth… he’s leveraged a lot of Tesla stock that’s tanked its value, he’s being sued for SpaceX shenanigans from what I’ve heard (which is largely dependant on government contracts), and you’d have to be fairly brave to enter into a financial arrangement with any of his companies right now. He might not be in danger of destitution right now, but he’s not going to keep hold of that top spot.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Preventing problems is only more work in the short-term

Fanboys have been suggesting that since the site didn’t instantly combust, those people weren’t really needed.

That strikes me as like saying that since deciding to never take your car to a mechanic or do your own maintenance won’t immediately cause it to catch on fire neither of those are necessary to begin with.

FloatUnblock (profile) says:

Not a problem

As everyone is mentioning, he probably won’t have the problem of being the CEO of a VLOP (or ROUS) for much longer.

While he is doing his Brewsters 44 Billion, how are people working at or doing deals with Tesla and SpaceX feeling? Why would anyone want to work for him or make any investments or other deals with any of his companies?

Christenson says:

Re: Tesla and SpaceX feelz...

They feel like he’s a loose cannon they want to heave overboard so they can do their work.
– Go see twitter’s @chancery_daily for the current shareholder lawsuit over Tesla paying Musk $50 Billion for CEO when he’s not full time.
– Look up the letter from SpaceX employees expressing concern over Musk from June or so and saying they need to distance themselves from his brand; I think that’s turning into a lawsuit, too.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Musk’s been known to be a complete tool and toxic boss for a while, but at least in Tesla and SpaceX he seemed committed to the tech and working on something that furthers mankind.

With Twitter, he’s jumped in as the worst kind of new boss (wants to make a mark by immediately gutting unloyal staff, thinks he knows more about the product than people who built it, etc.), combined with his insistence on making every move so extremely public.

From what I’ve seen today, his extremely confrontational and abusive style got him a whiteboard with the overall high level view of the tech stack that he probably should have had on day one, not after firing huge numbers of staff with public arguments. Great job.

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