The new framework for vetted researchers’ access to data from very large online platforms and very large search engines is a key measure of the Digital Services Act, to increase platforms’ transparency and accountability. The Commission is to adopt delegated acts to further specify the conditions under which sharing of data should take place and, the purposes for which the data may be used and relevant procedures, taking into account the rights and interests of the actors involved and, if necessary, independent advisory mechanisms.
Opsci acknowledges the emerging challenges and opportunities in comprehensive data collection and data openness for the researchers. It emphasizes the need for access to diverse data to monitor compliance, research systemic risks, and understand algorithms governing harmful content.
At the same time, Opsci calls attention to digital platforms as democratic spaces rich in cultural content, not merely data sources to be regulated. Recognizing platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok as pivotal social territories and exploration fields, the contribution identifies the challenge posed by their opacity and the inherent obscurity of AI, which can hinder researchers from diverse fields.
To tackle these issues, Opsci suggests enhancing social data openness for vetted researchers.
It proposes secure, user-friendly interfaces for data access, such as secure APIs, robust authentication and encryption techniques, while maintaining ease of use for researchers.
It further suggests the formation of an independent expert body or advisory mechanism to evaluate research proposals and vet researchers impartially, promoting consistency and reliability.
Lastly, Opsci recommends a shift in perspective from merely focusing on control and auditing measures to encouraging dialogue with a wide range of digital platforms These platforms are rich sources of democratic and cultural experiences, which are often overlooked.
Opsci believes in encouraging platforms to research, preserve, and valorize these experiences.