What is The Digital Services Act?

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The Digital Services Act (DSA) aims at creating a safer and more accountable online environment. And it marks a significant shift in how digital services are regulated. This blog post explains the key aspects of the DSA, its implications for tech companies, and its potential impact on users.
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Digital Services Act: creating a safer digital space

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is part of the Digital Services Act Package along with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DSA is a EU legislative framework brought into force on November 16, 2022.

The DSA is designed to create a safer and more accountable digital space. And by updating the legal framework for digital services, it addresses changes to the digital landscape since the inception of the eCommerce Directive in 2000. 

Furthermore, it modernizes the directive, setting clearer frameworks for online entities such as marketplaces, social media, content-sharing platforms, and app stores: the DSA obligates these digital services to moderate content transparently, protect user data, and combat illegal and harmful online content. 

Lastly, the DSA emphasizes protecting users’ fundamental rights online, particularly focusing on the safety of children.

What is the Digital Services Act?

Who does the Digital Services Act apply to?

DSA applies to all digital intermediaries, such as cloud providers, online marketplaces, and app stores, and especially to the so-called ‘VLOPs’ and ‘VLOSEs’.

What are VLOPs and VLOSEs?

VLOP stands for “Very Large Online Platform” and VLOSE stands for “Very Large Online Search Engine”.

But how big is “very large”?

To clarify, the DSA has designated 17 VLOP’s and 2 VLOSE’s which all reach 45 million active monthly users in the EU.

Very Large Online Platforms:

  • Alibaba AliExpress
  • Amazon Store
  • Apple AppStore
  • Booking.com
  • Facebook
  • Google Play
  • Google Maps
  • Google Shopping
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Twitter
  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube
  • Zalando

Very Large Online Search Engines:

  • Bing
  • Google Search

Initially, the large platforms had to report how many active users they have – because their scope or size is crucial for whether they should be regulated.

Based on these figures, the EU Commission decides whether a platform should be classified as a very large online platform or search engine. And following this labeling, the platforms have four months to submit their first annual risk assessment, among other things.

What are the key objectives of The Digital Services Act?

Enhanced responsibility and accountability: The DSA imposes stricter obligations on digital service providers, especially large platforms, to manage risks associated with their services and to protect users from illegal content.

Transparency and fairness: Platforms are required to be more transparent about their algorithms, content moderation policies, and advertising practices.

User empowerment: Users are given more control over the content they see and can challenge platforms’ decisions regarding content moderation.

Safeguarding fundamental rights: The DSA aims to protect users’ fundamental rights online, including freedom of expression and information.

The Digital Services Act enhances transparency and accountability

What are the implications for tech companies?

The DSA brings significant changes for digital service providers and large tech companies:

Due diligence obligations: Companies must conduct risk assessments and implement measures to mitigate risks associated with their services.

Transparency requirements: The DSA imposes stringent requirements for transparency in content moderation and algorithmic decision-making.

Legal liability: Companies face increased liability for non-compliance, including hefty fines.

What are the implications for users?

The DSA promises to create a safer and more transparent online environment for users.

Protection from harmful content: The DSA provides enhanced mechanisms for users to report and remove illegal content.

Greater control: Users can better understand and influence the content they are exposed to.

Redress mechanisms: Users have avenues to contest decisions made by platforms about content.

Summary

The Digital Services Act is a significant step towards modernizing digital regulation in the EU. By focusing on responsibility, transparency, and user rights, it aims to create a safer, fairer digital space.

Because of this, the DSA’s implementation will be a critical watchpoint for tech companies and users, setting a precedent for worldwide digital regulation.

The Digital Services Act is setting global precedence
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