The European Union Commission recently announced that Parliament and member states had reached a “quick political agreement” on a proposed Digital Services Act (DSA).
The DSA aims to protect Internet users by creating an “unprecedented new standard” for Internet platforms that will hold companies like Google, Meta (Facebook), and Twitter accountable for illegal and harmful content.
Furthermore, the DSA will force online platforms to share how their algorithms work, put processes in place to quickly remove illegal goods and content, and crack down on users who spread misinformation.
What exactly is the Digital Services Act, when does it come into force, and what does it mean for the platforms and the people who use them — including digital marketers?
Here’s what you need to know now about DSA.
1. What is the Digital Services Law?
At the moment, the DSA is a proposed piece of legislation first presented by the EU Commission on December 15, 2020.
This proposal came with two related proposals. In this First adThe committee stated:
Today the Commission proposed an ambitious reform of the digital space, a comprehensive set of new rules for all digital services, including social media, online marketplaces, and other online platforms that operate in the EU: Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Law. “
The Digital Markets Act is designed to ensure a level playing field between businesses and took effect in March.
According to the European Commission, the university DSA targetson the other hand, are:
- Better protection of consumers and their basic rights online.
- Create a strong transparency and accountability framework for online platforms.
- Promote innovation, growth and competitiveness within the Single Market.
In short, this new legislation will hold search engines, social media networks, and marketplaces accountable for censoring content on their sites.
2. When does the effect of DSA start?
As of publication, the European Parliament and EU Member States have agreed to move forward with the proposal.
Now, it is under review by two co-legislators.
According to the April 23 media release,
“Once adopted, the DSA will apply directly across the European Union and will be applied for fifteen months or from January 1, 2024, whichever is later, after it enters into force.”
Internet platforms and search engines classified as “very large” (those with 45 million users or more in the European Union) will be subject to DSA terms even earlier than four months after they are designated.
3. What online platforms will you need to comply with?
The legislation defines digital services as “a large category of online services, from simple websites to Internet infrastructure services and online platforms.”
All digital services doing business in the EU are subject to DSA, no matter where the business is set up — even micro and small businesses (although regulations are tailored to size).
Small and medium-sized digital services make up 90% of affected businesses in the EU and will be exempt from the more expensive regulations.
The types of digital services subject to this legislation include:
- Online markets
- social networks
- Content sharing platforms
- App Stores
- Online travel platforms
- accommodation platforms
- Intermediary services such as Internet providers and domain registrars
- Cloud services and web hosting
- Collaborative economy platforms
DSA also applies to Gatekeeper platforms, k id Those with a “systematic role in the internal market act as bottlenecks between businesses and consumers of critical digital services.”
Platforms with 45m users or more in the EU – those classified as ‘very large’ – will also need to assess the risks their systems pose to public interests, fundamental rights, public health and security.
These platforms will have to demonstrate that they use appropriate risk management tools and take measures to protect the integrity of their services and prevent manipulation by bad actors.
Google is currently enjoying 92.04% of the search engine market share in the European Union and will be subject to the highest level of regulation.
with l 309 million daily active users In Europe, Facebook is also rated “too big” for DSA purposes.
Other platforms and social networks that exceed the EU user benchmark of 45 million users include:
- Tik Tok
- an Apple
Documents released to Corporate Europe Monitor (CEO) and Global Witness due to Freedom of Information requests to the European Commission and the Swedish government show that there has been significant pressure by Big Tech at every stage of DSA’s journey from Commission to Council and Parliament.
“New self-reported lobbying data shows that over this period Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have all increased their lobbying spending in the EU” CEO reports.
“Collectively, the big tech companies spent more than €27 million in just one year. All five companies raised their balance sheets, but the biggest increase so far was Apple, which nearly doubled its lobbying expenses.”
Monitoring ads, user tracking, and behavioral targeting have been among the most controversial issues.
4. OK, but what does DSA actually do Do?
The Commission states that the Digital Services Act will:
“…create horizontal rules to ensure accountability, transparency, and public oversight of how online platforms shape the information space in which our societies thrive.”
In essence, the DSA is a regulatory framework that will enforce rules about how platforms can:
- moderate content,
- and use of arithmetic operations.
This last point could become quite inconvenient for major search engines, such as Google and social/advertising platforms such as Meta, as they will have to explain to users how their algorithms work.
Under the DSA, digital services face hefty fines—up to 6% of their annual turnover—for non-compliance.
5. What is required of digital service companies to do?
Obligations for intermediary services such as IP addresses and domain registrars include:
- Transparency reports
- Terms of Service requirements Due regard for basic rights
- Cooperate with national authorities
- contacts and, when necessary, the legal representative
Hosting services are obligated to follow the above, in addition to “notice, act and commit to providing information to users” and report criminal offenses to the authorities.
The regulations become more onerous on online platforms, and they are required to follow the above obligations and also include:
- Complaint, compensation and out-of-court dispute settlement mechanism
- Trusted Flaggers
- Measures against abusive notices and counter notifications
- Transparency of recommendation systems
- Transparency in the user’s face of online advertising
In addition, the regulations prevent online platforms from targeting ads to children and prohibit targeting based on certain characteristics of users.
There are special obligations to markets, including checking third-party supplier credentials and compliance by design. They undergo random checks.
Very Large Internet Platforms – Meta, Google, et al. – shall comply with all of the above and also be responsible for:
- Risk management commitments and crisis response
- External and independent audit and internal compliance function and public accountability
- User Choice has no recommendations based on profiling
- Share data with authorities and researchers
- behaviours basics
- Collaboration in crisis response
6. So what is this about algorithms?
One of the effects of strong public censorship on online platforms that reaches more than 10% of the EU population (about 45 million people) is:
“…transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, Including the algorithms used for recommendations. “
Another section notes that the DSA will ensure that researchers have access to key data from the largest search engines to inform them of how online risks are evolving.
According to official documents, states are the first line of defense in the DSA, with enforcement falling to the commission.
7. What does this mean for online advertising?
Managing large online platforms has become problematic in that it stifles competition and leaves small and medium enterprises and startups at a disadvantage, the commission said.
Small businesses and organizations rely on large platforms to control communications and content ratings.
Because gatekeepers like Google and Facebook hold the keys to accessing the consumer data generated by these activities, SMEs and startups end up in direct competition with gatekeepers who use their data to serve their own interests (such as selling targeting to those very small and medium businesses.) .
DSA will partly level the playing field by making the inner workings of advertising and ranking algorithms more transparent.
Meanwhile, its sister piece of legislation, the Digital Markets Act, will require gatekeeper platforms to grant small businesses access to certain data.
The Commission promises that these two laws will ensure a safer and more accountable online environment for all.
Featured image: Shutterstock / Vector Image Plus
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