18 November 2022


On 16 November, the Digital Services Act (DSA), setting rules for a safer and more accountable online environment, entered into force. The DSA applies to all digital services that connect consumers to goods, services, or content. It creates comprehensive new obligations for online platforms to reduce harms and counter risks online, introduces strong protections for users' rights online, and places digital platforms under a unique new transparency and accountability framework.

The DSA introduces a comprehensive new set of rules for online intermediary services on how they have to design their services and procedures. The new rules include new responsibilities to limit the spread of illegal content and illegal products online, increase the protection of minors, give users more choice and better information. The obligations of different online players match their role, size and impact in the online ecosystem; an overview is available here.

All online intermediaries will have to comply with wide-ranging new transparency obligations to increase accountability and oversight, for example with new flagging mechanism for illegal content. But a special regime is introduced for platforms with more than 45 million users: for such very large online platforms or search engines, further obligations include wide-ranging annual assessments of the risks for online harms on their services - for example with regard to exposure to illegal goods or content or the dissemination of disinformation. Under the DSA, suitable risk mitigation measures will have to be put in place, and subject to independent auditing of their services and mitigation measures.

Smaller platforms and start-ups will benefit from a reduced set of obligations, special exemptions from certain rules, and most crucial increased legal clarity and certainty for operating across the whole EU's single market.

Following the entry into force of the DSA, online platforms will have 3 months to report the number of active end users (17 February 2023) on their websites. The Commission is also inviting all online platforms to notify to it the published numbers. Based on these user numbers, the Commission will make an assessment as to whether a platform should be designated a very large online platform or search engine. Following such a designation decision by the Commission, the entity in question will have 4 months to comply with the obligations under the DSA, including carrying out and providing to the Commission the first annual risk assessment exercise. EU Member States will need to empower their Digital Services Coordinators by 17 February 2024, the general date of entry in application of the DSA, when the DSA is fully applicable for all entities in its scope.

Source: European Commission