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The European Union’s Digital Services Act (“DSA”) establishes a “meta law”—public regulation of the private regulation conducted by internet platforms. The DSA offers an attempt to balance private technological power with democratic oversight. The DSA will likely prove an attractive model for other governments to assert control over massive global internet platforms. What happens when other countries borrow its approach, in an instantiation of the vaunted Brussels Effect? This Article evaluates the DSA using the “Putin Test”—asking what if an authoritarian leader were given the powers granted by the DSA? The Article argues that authoritarians might well exploit various mechanisms in the DSA to enlarge their control over the dissemination of information, and, in particular, to target the speech of critics.

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Berkeley Technology Law Review, Vol. 38, Issue 3, Pp. 1067-1088.