Political agreement reached on EU Digital Services Act

April 25, 2022

The European Parliament and the EU member states have reached agreement on the European Commission’s draft Digital Services Act (DSA), which was proposed in December 2020. 

The DSA’s scope covers online intermediary services. Their obligations under the DSA depend on their role, size, and impact on the online ecosystem. These online intermediary services include:

  • Intermediary services offering network infrastructure, such as internet access providers, domain name registrars;
  • Hosting services such as cloud computing and webhosting services;
  • Very large online search engines with more than 10% of the 450 million consumers in the EU, and therefore, in the Commission’s view, more responsibility for curbing illegal content online;
  • Online platforms bringing together sellers and consumers such as online marketplaces, app stores, collaborative economy platforms and social media platforms;
  • Very large online platforms, with a reach of more than 10% of the 450 million consumers in the EU, which could pose particular risks in the dissemination of illegal content and societal harms.

The DSA contains:

  • Measures to counter illegal goods, services or content online, such as:

– a mechanism for users to easily flag such content and for platforms to cooperate with so-called ‘trusted flaggers’;

– new obligations on traceability of business users in online marketplaces;

  • New measures to empower users and civil society, including:

– the possibility to challenge platforms’ content moderation decisions and seek redress, either via an out-of-court dispute mechanism or judicial redress;

– provision of access to vetted researchers to the key data of the largest platforms and provision of access to NGOs for public data, with the aim of providing more insight into how online risks evolve;

– transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including on the algorithms used for recommending content or products to users.

  • Measures to assess and mitigate risks, such as obligations for very large platforms and very large online search engines to take risk-based action to prevent the misuse of their systems and undergo independent audits of their risk management systems;
  • Mechanisms to adapt swiftly and efficiently in reaction to crises affecting public security or public health;
  • New safeguards for the protection of minors and limits on the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising.
  • Enhanced supervision and enforcement by the Commission when it comes to very large online platforms. The supervisory and enforcement framework also confirms an important role for the independent Digital Services Coordinators and Board for Digital Services.

Next steps

Once adopted, the DSA will be directly applicable across the EU and will apply fifteen months after entry into force or from 1 January 2024, whichever is later. For the very large online platforms and very large online search engines the DSA will apply from four months after their designation.