January 24, 2022
The approved text will be used as the mandate to negotiate with the French presidency of the Council, representing Member States.
According to the EU Parliament, the Digital Services Act (DSA) proposal defines clear responsibilities and accountability for providers of intermediary services, in particular online platforms, such as social media and marketplaces.
The DSA establishes a “notice and action” mechanism, as well as safeguards, for the removal of illegal products, services or content online. Providers of hosting services will have to act on receipt of such a notice “without undue delay, taking into account the type of illegal content that is being notified and the urgency of taking action”. MEPs amended the text to ensure notices are processed in a non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory manner and with respect for fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression.
MEPs strengthened the obligation to trace traders (the “Know Your Business Customer” principle).
Very large online platforms (VLOPs) will be subject to specific obligations due to the particular risks they pose regarding the dissemination of both illegal and harmful content. The DSA will, the EU Parliament says, help to tackle harmful content (which might not be illegal) and the spread of disinformation by including provisions on mandatory risk assessments, risk mitigation measures, independent audits and the transparency of so-called “recommender systems” (algorithms that determine what users see).
Parliament also introduced the following changes:
- exempting micro and small enterprises from certain DSA obligations;
- on targeted advertising, the text now provides for more transparent and informed choice for recipients of digital services, including information on how their data will be monetised; under the DSA, refusing consent must be no more difficult or time-consuming to the recipient than giving consent, and if consent is refused or withdrawn, recipients must be given other options to access the online platform, including “options based on tracking-free advertising”;
- targeting or amplification techniques involving the data of minors for the purpose of displaying ads will be prohibited, as well as targeting individuals on the basis of special categories of data which allow targeting of vulnerable groups;
- recipients of digital services and organisations representing them will be able to seek redress for any damages resulting from platforms not respecting their due diligence obligations;
- online platforms will be prohibited from using deceiving or nudging techniques to influence users’ behaviour through “dark patterns”; and
- VLOPs will have to provide at least one recommender system that is not based on profiling.
Further amendments include the need for providers to state in their terms and conditions that they respect freedom of expression and freedom and pluralism of the media, as well as a new provision on the right to use and pay for digital services anonymously. To read the EU Parliament’s press release in full, click here.