HomeInsightsEuropean Commission publishes Digital Services Act proposals

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Following a public consultation, which ran from 2 June to 8 September 2020, the Commission has now published its proposals for a new Digital Services Act.

Under the new legislation, binding EU-wide obligations would apply to all digital services that connect consumers to goods, services, or content, including new procedures for faster removal of illegal content as well as comprehensive protection for users’ fundamental rights online. The Commission says that the new framework will rebalance the rights and responsibilities of users, intermediary platforms and public authorities and is based on European values, including the respect of human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. The proposal complements the European Democracy Action Plan aimed at making democracies more resilient.

The Digital Services Act would introduce a series of new, harmonised EU-wide obligations for digital services, graduated on the basis of those services’ size and impact, such as:

  • rules for the removal of illegal goods, services or content online;
  • safeguards for users whose content has been erroneously deleted by platforms;
  • new obligations for very large platforms to take risk-based action to prevent abuse of their systems;
  • wide-ranging transparency measures, including on online advertising and on the algorithms used to recommend content to users;
  • new powers to scrutinise how platforms work, including by facilitating access by researchers to key platform data;
  • new rules on traceability of business users in online market places, to help track down sellers of illegal goods or services; and
  • a co-operation process amongst public authorities to ensure effective enforcement across the single market.

Platforms that reach more than 10% of the EU’s population (45 million users) are considered systemic in nature, and would be subject not only to specific obligations to control their own risks, but also to a new oversight structure. This new accountability framework would be comprised of a board of national Digital Services Coordinators, with special powers for the Commission in supervising very large platforms, including the ability to sanction them directly.

The European Parliament and the Member States (through the Council) will now discuss the Commission’s proposals in the ordinary legislative procedure. If adopted, the final text will be directly applicable across the EU. To access the proposals, including a Questions and Answer document, a Facts Page and the results of the consultation, click here.