On 4 October 2022, the Council of the European Union (the Council) approved the Digital Services Act (DSA) which aims to ensure a safer online environment protecting the digital space against the spread of illegal content and ensuring the protection on users’ fundamental rights.
The DSA defines clear responsibilities and accountability for providers of intermediary services, such as social media, online marketplaces, very large online platforms (VLOPs) and very large online search engines (VLOSEs).
Under the DSA, platforms will have to be more transparent and will also be held accountable for their role in disseminating illegal and harmful content. The Council notes that the DSA will:
- Impose special obligations on online marketplaces to combat the online sale of illegal products and services
- Introduce measures to counter illegal content online and obligations for platforms to react quickly, while respecting fundamental rights
- Prohibit platforms from using targeted advertising based on the use of minors’ personal data
- Impose certain limits on the presentation of advertising and on the use of sensitive personal data for targeted advertising, including gender, race and religion
- Ban misleading interfaces known as ‘dark patterns’ and practices aimed at misleading
In addition, stricter rules will apply for very large online platforms and search engines (VLOPs and VLOSEs), which will have to offer users a system for recommending content that is not based on profiling and analyse the systemic risks they create.
Lastly, the DSA introduces a crisis response mechanism, which will make it possible to analyse the impact of the activities of VLOPs and VLOSEs on the crisis in question and rapidly decide on proportionate and effective measures to ensure the respect of fundamental rights.
The EU Council’s press release can be found here.