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Digital Services Act

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The Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force on Nov. 16, 2022, is the European Union’s most ambitious regulatory effort to crack down on illegal content, minimize harm to users, and promote a more open internet. The enforcement of the DSA follows that of the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which went into effect on May 2, 2023. The DSA’s aim is to rebalance the relationship between users, platforms, and public authorities while fostering innovation, growth, and competitiveness that, for example, allows smaller platforms to scale up.

New obligations for all online services and platforms include:

  • Transparency reporting
  • Requirements on terms of service to account for fundamental rights
  • Greater cooperation with national authorities
  • Establish clear points of contact and, where necessary, a legal representative

Other mandatory obligations for all online platforms include, but are not limited to:

  • Bans on targeted advertising to children
  • Trusted flaggers
  • Algorithmic transparency
  • Public-facing ad libraries

Some additional requirements for Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines include:

  • Option for users to opt out of recommender systems (algorithms)
  • Increased data sharing with authorities and researchers
  • Regular external and independent systemic risk audits

Each EU country must appoint a Digital Services Coordinator (DSC) to determine noncompliance penalties in accordance with their national laws. The European Commission and DSCs also have the power to require immediate actions addressing very serious harms. What noncompliance oversight looks like is still being determined.


August 25, 2023. Compliance date for all designated Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines, also referred to as digital intermediaries. Among the 19 designated companies that reach at least 45 million monthly active users are platforms like Amazon, Meta, and X (formerly Twitter), as well as search engines such as Microsoft’s Bing and Google. Responsibilities include making it easier for users to report illegal content on platforms and clamping down on disinformation, limiting certain data and targeting practices, and eventually providing data to independent researchers.

November 6, 2023. The deadline for all VLOPs and VLOSEs to publish transparency reports that meet specific DSA requirements, such as content moderation processes and dedicated human resources across official EU languages as well as out-of-court dispute settlements.

December 8, 2023. The European Commission opens for public feedback two initiatives related to the enforcement of the Act. The Commission is asking for public feedback on mandatory templates for transparency reports, including guidance on the form, content, and other details to meet the reporting requirements that are set out in the Digital Services Act. Feedback is due by January 24, 2024. The Commission is also seeking feedback on how to establish and maintain a reliable and secure information-sharing system, ‘AGORA’, that supports communications between the Digital Services Coordinators, the Commission, and the European Board for Digital Services (‘the Board’). Feedback is due by January 5, 2024.

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