MOSCOW, July 14 (RAPSI) — The authorities of a number of countries are concerned with regulation of digital services, according to Alexander Zhuravlev, Chairman of the Commission on Legal Support of Digital Economy of the Moscow office of the Association of Lawyers of Russia Alexander Zhuravlev.

As the expert points out, for instance the EU introduced a law envisaging that large online platforms that run recommendation services are obliged to inform their users about the basic principles of the work of recommendation services in an easily accessible and understandable format. 

Yet another example, according to Zhuravlev, is an agreement between the European Commission, and the Xperia Group, which was concluded in 2020. The agreement was concluded to bring in line with the legislation on protection of the rights of consumers recommendation services for the publication of proposals for accommodation. Within the agreement framework, websites must present  accurate information on the rankings of the premises, whereas search engines lkie Google, Amazon and other Internet companies must openly declare how they rank search results on their sites, the expert said.

The Commission Chair also reminded that the European Commission had published a new guide for Internet companies, which establishes the transparency standards of algorithmic ranking.

If ranking algorithms are used by a website or it runs a search service, two facts are forbidden to hide from the authorities and society: what factors ranking algorithms use and which positions are paid for. This regulation mechanism has been put in place, because consumers of services or content viewers have the right to know how these mechanisms work and when they are in operation. This is very important, since consumers base on the recommendations when deciding on the content to choose, or about purchases of certain goods or services, Zhuravlev explains.

In his opinion, in the present context Russia also needs to develop its own rules for recommendation services that would take into account the interests of all stakeholders. 

Such rules, Zhuravlev insists, are to include an option to disable recommendation services at users’ discretion, or in the event if it is technically impossible, such products are to be marked accordingly, whereas users are to be warned in a clear and accessible language that the service uses such algorithms and the principles of their work. In his opinion, the expert says, such a mechanism is to be a step towards ensuring transparency of the operation of platforms for users.