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A legislative package on digital services (the Digital Services Act – DSA): more security and responsibility in the online environment

For the first time, a single set of standards on the duties and responsibilities of intermediaries opens up new opportunities within the Digital Single Market to offer digital services across borders with a high level of protection for all users, regardless of where in the EU they live. The legislative package on digital services (Digital Services Act – DSA) should modernize the 20-year-old E-commerce guideline, updating the responsibilities of digital services. On the other side, it should ensure fair opportunities for innovators, companies and new participants in markets, which are characterized by large online platforms, to compete. This promotes the internal market, strengthens innovation, growth, and competitiveness as well as consumer confidence in digital services.

In line with European values, the responsibilities of users, platforms, and authorities have become balanced, with the citizens taking center stage. What is changing:

  • better protection of consumers and their fundamental rights online
  • creation of an efficient and clear transparency as well as accountability framework for online platforms
  • the promotion of innovation, growth and competitiveness in the single market

For the citizens

  • more choice, lower prices
  • less illegal content
  • better protection of fundamental rights

For providers of digital service:

  • legal certainty, harmonization of regulations
  • easier start-up and expansion in Europe

For commercial users of digital services:

  • more choice, lower prices
  • access to EU-wide markets via platforms
  • joint action against providers of illegal content

For society as a whole:

  • stricter democratic control and supervision of systemic platforms
  • decrease of systematic risks such as manipulation or disinformation

The Digital Services Act lays down rules for online intermediary services used by millions of people in Europe every day. The obligations of online companies vary depending on their role, size, and impact in the online environment.

  • Intermediary services that have an infrastructure network: internet-service providers, domain name registers, including:
  • Hosting-services such as cloud- and webhosting-services, including:
    • Online platforms that connect vendors and consumers, such as online marketplaces, app stores, collaborative economy platforms and social media platforms
  • Very large online platforms entail particular risks for the distribution of illegal content and damages in society. There are special rules for platforms that reach more than 10% of the total 450 million consumers in Europe.

All online intermediaries offering their services in the internal market will have to comply with the new set of rules, regardless of whether they are residents in the EU or outside. Micro and small businesses, acting responsibly, are subjected to obligations relative to their capacities and size.

The Digital Services Act facilitates the removal of illegal content and protects fundamental user rights, including freedom of speech, online. It also ensures stricter supervision of online platforms, especially platforms that reach more than 10% of the EU population.

Concretely this means:

  • Actions to combat illegal goods, services, or content online with a mechanism that allows users to label such content and enables platforms to work with “trustworthy flaggers”.
  • New regulations for the traceability of business users on online marketplaces, making it easier to detect sellers of illegal goods.
  • Effective protective measures for users with the possibility of contesting decisions made by the platforms to moderate content.
  • Increasing the transparency of online platforms in different areas, including algorithms used for recommendations.