In a subtle move, Elon Musk’s company, X, seems to have adhered to a stringent legal requirement in the European Union, granting researchers access to study systemic risks associated with their services. Designated a VLOP under the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) in April, X is now subject to additional rules enforcing algorithmic accountability.
EU-based researchers can now apply for data access through a web form on X’s developer platform, marking a departure from Elon Musk’s previous restrictive measures. The EU’s DSA could potentially shift the power dynamics for billionaire platform owners, allowing researchers to bypass arbitrary restrictions, provided they meet the DSA’s criteria.
Failure to comply may expose Musk’s company to enforcement action by the European Commission, with fines of up to 6% of global annual turnover. The application process requires researchers to affirm compliance, disclose organizational details, funding sources, and demonstrate independence from commercial interests. They must also outline their research project’s contribution to detecting systemic risks.
While the move toward increased access for EU researchers contrasts with Musk’s previous actions, the impact of the DSA appears to be influencing the dynamics of power. Despite these developments, Musk has not publicly highlighted this shift to his millions of followers on X.
Requests for comments from X’s press email on the opening up of EU researcher access yielded only the company’s standard automated response: “Busy now, please check back later.”
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