New Digital Services Act will replace the 20-year old regime.
The European Commission has launched a consultation on the Digital Services Act. The Act was first proposed in February in the Commission's Communication, “Shaping Europe's Digital Future". The consultation ends on 8 September and covers issues such as safety online, freedom of expression, fairness and a level-playing field in the digital economy.
The current regulatory framework for digital services is 20 years old. It does not give answers to many of today's pressing questions on the role and responsibility of online platforms, especially the largest ones.
The Commission says
“Europe needs a modernised regulatory framework to reduce the ever increasing regulatory fragmentation across member states, to better ensure that everyone across Europe is protected online as they are offline and to offer to all European businesses a level playing field to innovate, grow and compete globally. Users' safety as well as the respect of their fundamental rights, in particular their freedom of expression, must be systematically guaranteed.”
The consultation covers the two work strands announced by the Commission as part of the Digital Services Act package:
The first set of rules would relate to the fundamentals of the e-commerce directive, in particular the freedom to provide digital services across the EU single market in accordance with the rules of the place of establishment and a broad limitation of liability for content created by users. Building on these principles, the aim is to establish clearer and modern rules concerning the role and obligations of online intermediaries, including non-EU ones active in the EU, as well as a more effective governance system to ensure that such rules are correctly enforced across the EU single market while guaranteeing the respect of fundamental rights.
The second measure would address the issue of the level playing field in European digital markets, where currently a few large online platforms act as gatekeepers. The Commission will explore rules to address these market imbalances, with the aim of ensuring that consumers have the widest choice and that the EU single market for digital services remains competitive and open to innovation. This could be through additional general rules for all platforms of a certain scale, such as rules on self-preferencing, and/or through tailored regulatory obligations for specific gatekeepers, such as non-personal data access obligations, specific requirements regarding personal data portability, or interoperability requirements.
In addition, the Commission is also taking the opportunity to consult on other emerging issues related to online platforms, such as the opportunities and challenges that self-employed people face in providing services through online platforms.
In parallel, a second consultation has been launched on a possible new competition tool.
The consultation will inform the Commission's proposals for the Digital Services Act package, expected to be released at the end of 2021