On the 20th January, the European Parliament (EP) approved its position on the proposal for a Digital Services Act (DSA). The position gives green light to start negotiations, so-called trilogue, with the Council and Commission on the final shape of the new law. The Council of the EU (European Union) agreed on its position on 25th November 2021. 

Commissioner Breton during the EP Plenary Session in January 2022

Source: © European Union 2022 - Source : EP

Commissioner Breton during the EP Plenary Session in January 2022

In approving its position, The EP introduced the following new amendments in the text adopted in plenary

  • Prohibit online platforms from using ‘dark patterns’ to influence users’ behaviours
  • Prohibit online platforms from targeting minors in advertisements
  • Exempt small enterprises from certain DSA obligations
  • Recipients of Digital services to be entitled to damages if a platform fails its due diligence obligations
  • More transparency for recipients of digital services on how their data is monetised

To look back, the European Commission announced two long-awaited legal acts back in December 2020: Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DSA proposal aimed to modernise the current legal framework by changing the rules for the handling of illegal or potentially harmful content online.

What Is the Digital Services Act?

The Digital Services Act is an integral part of the EU’s digital plan that aims to create a safe digital space for citizens and businesses. The main goals of the act are.

  • create a safer online environment
  • define clear responsibilities for platforms
  • deal with current digital challenges, which include:
    •    illegal products, hate speech and disinformation
    •    transparent data reporting and oversight

Key Points of Parliaments Position

Parliament is of the view that the existing legal framework is outdated and needs to be updated in line with new risk associated with digital transformations by

  • Removing illegal content and preventing the spread of disinformation
  • Greater transparency in how users manage content to help inform readership.
  • New obligations on business users’ traceability in online marketplaces.
  • Using stringent security measures, such as a good internal complaint-handling procedure, users should be protected from harm.

It is worth noting that whilst Parliament wants a ban on all platforms, The Council wants the ban only for online marketplaces.

Next Steps

In order for the DSA to become law, it must first be agreed upon by EU countries and Lawmakers. This is already underway with the trilogue negotiations which started on the 31st of January 2022, and most recently on the 15th of February.

“I am optimistic we can make a deal before the end of June,” Danish lawmaker Christel Schaldemose said in an interview.

There are two further meetings scheduled for the 15th of March and during the week of 4 April. Following these meetings, If the DSA becomes law, then big corporations would be forced to do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms or face fines of up to 6% of their global turnover.