Insights EU Digital Services Act: transparency update


The EU’s Digital Services Act (“DSA”) regulates online intermediary service providers, such as marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms and app stores, and search engines. Its main goal is to prevent illegal and harmful activities online.

A set of basic obligations under the DSA fall on all providers of online intermediary services. Further, stricter obligations apply depending on the type of online intermediary service provided:

  • Hosting services, which store content provided by users of their service (e.g. cloud services).
  • Online platforms, a type of hosting service that disseminates the content provided by users to the public (e.g. social media platforms).
  • Very Large Online Platforms (“VLOPs“), a type of online platform having 45 million or more average monthly active users in the EU, and Very Large Online Search Engines (“VLOSEs“). VLOPs and VLOSEs are subject to greatest number of obligations under the DSA.

The DSA must be implemented by all in-scope online intermediary service providers by 17 February 2024. However, companies designated as VLOPs or VLOSEs under the DSA have to comply with the DSA within four months of designation. This means that the first batch companies designated in April 2023 now need to comply.

European Commission launches Digital Services Terms and Conditions Database

Under the DSA, all intermediary service providers must set out their terms and conditions in clear, plain, intelligible, user-friendly and unambiguous language, and the terms and conditions must be publicly available in an easily accessible and machine-readable format. They must also inform service recipients of any significant change to their terms and conditions and, for services primarily directed at minors, they must be understandable by minors. VLOPs and VLOSEs must publish a summary of their terms and conditions and make their terms and conditions available in the official languages of all Member States in which they offer their services.

On 1 December, the European Commission launched a database with a view to publishing the terms and conditions of various digital services. The database is a Commission initiative which complements the transparency requirements introduced by the DSA. According to the Commission Press Release, the Digital Services Terms and Conditions Database will serve as a go-to resource for users, regulators, and stakeholders. Regulators will be able to monitor and assess legal compliance and researchers will have the opportunity to gain real-time insights into changing terms and conditions.

The database currently already holds a repository of 790 terms and conditions from various service providers. It uses an automated system which scrutinises the terms and conditions in the database multiple times daily, highlighting any new changes.

For more information, click here.

European Commission consults on Implementing Regulation on transparency reporting

The DSA requires intermediary service providers to publish annual reports on content moderation on their services. These reports must include information such as the number of orders providers have received from Member States’ judicial or administrative authorities relating to illegal content on the service, the number of notices received from individuals relating to illegal content, information about the moderation engaged in by the provider (including use of automated tools, moderator training etc), the number of complaints received through any internal complaint-handling system (or, in the case of online platforms the internal complaint-handling system mandated by the DSA), and details of the use of automated content moderation including indicators of accuracy and possible rate of error.

The DSA permits the Commission to adopt implementing acts to establish templates on the form and content of the reports. On 8 December 2023, the European Commission launched a public consultation to gather feedback on an implementing regulation with the templates that intermediary services providers would have to use for their future transparency reports under the DSA.

Designated VLOPs and VLOSEs have already published their first reports. Building on the assessment of the first reports, the Commission states that it has decided to use the powers granted by the DSA to adopt an implementing regulation aimed at increasing the quality and level of harmonisation of the reports, to guarantee the same level of transparency and accountability across platforms. The implementing regulation, which the Commission intends to adopt early in 2024, will mandate the form and content of the reports going forward. It will also standardise the reporting periods for all service providers.

For more information and to respond to the consultation, which closes on 24 January 2024, click here.