Insights Council of European Union formally adopts Digital Services Act


The Council has formally approved the text of the Digital Services Act (DSA), following the provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament in April 2022, which was endorsed by EU Member States on 15 June 2022.

The digital services package is the EU’s response to the need to regulate the digital space. Together, the DSA and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) (the latter having been approved in September 2022 and will be published in the Official Journal on 13 October 2022) define a framework adapted to the economic and democratic footprint of digital giants and introduce measures to protect users while supporting innovation in the digital economy.

The DSA defines clear responsibilities and accountability for providers of intermediary services, such as social media, online marketplaces, very large online platforms (VLOPs) and very large online search engines (VLOSEs).

The Council explains that under the DSA, platforms will not only have to be more transparent, but will also be held accountable for their role in disseminating illegal and harmful content. Amongst other things, the DSA:

  • provides for special obligations for online marketplaces to combat the online sale of illegal products and services;
  • introduces measures to counter illegal content online and obligations for platforms to react quickly, while respecting fundamental rights;
  • better protects minors online by prohibiting platforms from using targeted advertising based on the use of minors’ personal data as defined in EU law;
  • imposes certain limits on the presentation of advertising and on the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising, including gender, race and religion;
  • bans misleading interfaces known as “dark patterns” and practices aimed at misleading consumers.

Stricter rules apply for VLOPs and VLOSEs, which will have to:

  • offer users a system for recommending content that is not based on profiling; and
  • analyse the systemic risks they create, i.e. risks related to the dissemination of illegal content, negative effects on fundamental rights, on electoral processes and on gender-based violence or mental health.

The DSA also introduces a crisis response mechanism in the light of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and the impact on the manipulation of online information. This mechanism will make it possible to analyse the impact of the activities of VLOPs and VLOSEs on the crisis in question and rapidly decide on proportionate and effective measures to ensure the respect of fundamental rights.

After being signed by the President of the European Parliament and the President of the Council, the DSA will be published in the Official Journal and become effective fifteen months after entry into force. To read the Council’s news release in full and for links to the final text of the DSA, click here.