Digital Services Act: New rules for dealing with online content are final

In the trilogue negotiations, the EU Commission, the Council of the EU and the EU Parliament have agreed on a final draft for the Digital Services Act. In the future, this will comprehensively regulate how platforms have to deal with user content. In essence, it is about dealing with illegal content.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen describes the conclusion of the negotiations as "historic". "The DSA (note: abbreviation of Digital Service Act) will improve the basic rules for all online services in the EU," said von der Leyen. EU Commissioner Thierry Breton, who is responsible for the EU internal market, also explains that liability for large platforms will now be tightened.
The EU Commission now has the option of imposing "effective and dissuasive" sanctions of up to six percent of global sales or – in serious cases – even a ban on activities in the EU. Such a 6 percent penalty would be around 20 billion euros for Apple and around 15 billion euros for Google.

New rules for handling content

The DSA contains a large number of measures, the focus of which is dealing with illegal content. These are specifications that are essentially based on the German NetzDG. A requirement of the DSA is that platforms must enable users to report content. However, as reports, there is also an obligation to establish independent complaints mechanisms so that users can appeal against deletion decisions.
“Trusted flaggers” are also to play a special role. These are consumer organizations or NGOs that have been classified as trustworthy and are given priority when reporting. In addition, a know-your-customer principle is being introduced on trading platforms such as eBay. In the future, users will have to identify themselves with personal data. This is how the EU wants to take action against fraud and counterfeiting. There are also other requirements such as transparency regulations that apply, for example, to the use of algorithms. How the rules apply depends on the type and size of the respective platform.
Civil rights activists such as Patrick Breyer, European Pirate MP, who also worked on the law, are not satisfied with the regulations. "The new set of rules does not deserve the name 'Digital Basic Law', because the disappointing deal often fails to protect our fundamental rights on the Internet," he explains in his statement. For example, there is no explicit right to anonymous Internet use, encryption or a do-not-track setting, and there is no ban on data retention.
🎉 #DSA deal achieved late last night! 🎉 Pending the official legal text, it looks like the law will bring a number of important obligations for online platforms while being mostly in respect of #DigitalRights.

— EDRi April 23, 2022

Others are more confident. The civil rights organization EDRi writes on Twitter that ambitious rules were desired, but the DSA is a first step in the right direction.

Rules apply from the end of 2023

The final legal text still has to be confirmed by the EU Parliament and the EU Council, but this is considered a formal act. As soon as the rules have been officially adopted and announced, they apply throughout the EU and come into force after 15 months. So if the process is completed by the middle of the year, the rules should apply from the end of 2023.
The Digital Services Act supplements the Digital Markets Act, which the trilogue parties recently agreed on. This includes specific specifications for the leading internet platforms such as Amazon or Google – the so-called gatekeepers.

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