The European Parliament and Council on Sunday took an important step ensuring safety for Europeans, while surfing the internet by entering into a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA).
DSA is the world’s first digital regulation in terms of innovative aspect of the supervision involved, ambition and the nature of actors regulated.
The DSA aims to protect the fundamental rights of the users, while also protecting the digital space against spreading of illegal content.
As per the Act, what is illegal offline, must also be illegal online. The Act will cover all online intermediaries providing services in the EU.
The provisions of the Act are proportionate to the nature of the services concerned and the number of users, putting services with more than 45 million monthly active users in the European Union under very large online platforms and very large search engines categories.
In order to safeguard the development of start-ups and smaller enterprises in internal market, micro and small enterprises with under 45 million monthly active users in EU will be exempted from certain new obligations.
The Commission will have exclusive power to supervise the VLOPs and VLOSEs for the obligations specific to this type of actor.
They will be supervised at European level, in cooperation with member states. The new supervisory mechanism maintains the country-of-origin principle, which will continue to apply to other actors and requirements covered under DSA.
The Act, keeping with the crucial role played by these actors in the lives of European consumers, will impose duty of care on marketplaces vis-à-vis sellers, who sell their products or services on their online platforms.
To ensure that consumers are properly informed, the marketplaces will have to collect and display information on the products and services sold.
A provision has been introduced under DSA for very large digital platforms and services to analyse systemic risks they create and to carry out risk reduction analysis.
To be carried out every year, the analysis will enable continuous monitoring, aimed at reducing risks associated with:
dissemination of illegal content
adverse effects on fundamental rights
manipulation of services having an impact on democratic processes and public security, and adverse effects on gender-based violence, and on minors and serious consequences for the physical or mental health of users
For online platforms and interfaces covered by the DSA, the co-legislators have agreed to prohibit misleading interfaces known as ‘dark patterns’ and practices aimed at misleading users.
Recommendation systems are found in many uses of online users, allowing them to quickly access relevant content.
Transparency requirements for the parameters of recommender systems have been introduced in order to improve information for users and any choices they make. VLOPs and VLOSEs will have to offer users a system for recommending content that is not based on their profiling.
In the context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the particular impact on the manipulation of online information, a new article has been added to the text introducing a crisis response mechanism.
This mechanism will be activated by the Commission on the recommendation of the board of national Digital Services Coordinators. It will make it possible to analyse the impact of the activities of VLOPs and VLOSEs on the crisis in question and decide on proportionate and effective measures to be put in place for the respect of fundamental rights.
Platforms accessible to minors will have to put in place special protection measures to ensure their safety online in particular when they are aware that a user is a minor. Platforms will be prohibited from presenting targeted advertising based on the use of minors’ personal data as defined in EU law.
In December 2020, the European Commission presented a digital services package comprising the Digital Services Act (DSA) and a Digital Markets Act (DMA).
The DSA and DMA form the two pillars of unprecedented digital regulation that respects European values and the European model. Together, these acts define a framework suited to the challenges posed by the emergence of digital giants and the protection of their users, while maintaining a balance conducive to innovation in the digital economy.
A provisional political agreement between the Council and Parliament on the DMA was reached on 24 March 2022.
The provisional agreement reached today is subject to approval by the Council and the European Parliament.
From the Council’s side, the provisional political agreement is subject to approval by the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), before going through the formal steps of the adoption procedure.