European Commission – European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency
The European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (ECAT) was inaugurated in April 2023. The Centre will provide technical and scientific expertise to support the Commission in its Digital Services Act (DSA) enforcement.
What: administrative decision - establishment of research centre
For who: online platforms and search engine providers and their users, (national) public authorities tasked with supervising algorithmic transparency, researchers
Takeaways for Flanders:
- The European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency will provide technical and scientific expertise to the European Commission to support its enforcement of the Digital Services Act.
- In addition to platform assessments and investigations, the ECAT will also conduct scientific research and community building.
The European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (“ECAT”) was inaugurated in April 2023. The Centre will support the European Commission with in-house technical and scientific expertise to ensure that algorithmic systems used by Very Large Online Platforms (“VLOPs”) and Search Engines (“VLOSEs”) comply with the requirements of the Digital Services Act (“DSA”). Specifically, the ECAT contributes its expertise to the Commission’s exclusive supervision and enforcement of the systemic obligations on VLOPs and VLOSEs under the DSA, such as the risk assessment of algorithmic systems and the mitigation of those risks. The Centre is hosted by the Joint Research Centre, the Commission’s in-house science and knowledge service, and cooperates with DG CONNECT.
The ECAT will advise the Commission on several topics including algorithmic transparency, recommender systems and search engines, fairness, accountability and transparency, the impact of recommender systems (ethical, economic, legal and social), and risks assessment and mitigation. The ECAT has both its own staff and a network of external experts to perform its tasks. These tasks include platform assessments and investigations, such as technical tests on systems, analysis of transparency reports, risk assessments and audits as well as support in investigations and in defining procedures for data access. In addition, the ECAT will also conduct scientific research (e.g. studying the long-term societal impact of algorithms) and be involved in networking and community building as a knowledge hub. Therefore, the relevance of its work and output will very likely not be limited to VLOPs and VLOSEs, but will probably also serve other (national) public authorities tasked with supervising algorithmic transparency.