Online platforms (such as search engines, social media and e-commerce platforms) play an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. However, the current EU rules on digital services have to a large extent remained unaltered since the adoption of the Directive on electronic commerce in the year 2000, with great discrepancies in the way this Directive has been implemented across the EU.
The Commission announced the revision of the internal market rules for digital services in its 2019 communication “Shaping Europe’s digital future”. Two public consultations were carried out, which had the following structure and ended on 8 September 2020:
- Assessment of the Directive on electronic commerce and clarification of the liability regime for digital services; and
- Possible introduction of an ex ante regulatory instrument for controlling the practices of large online platforms with significant network effects acting as gate-keepers.
The European added value assessment of the Digital Services Act was presented in October 2020, with the approval of the European Parliament resolution of 20 October 2020 on the Digital Services Act and fundamental rights issues posed.
The forthcoming next step will be the publication of the Digital Services Act, on 9 December 2020. Special attention must be paid to its final text, in particular with regard to the possible creation of national authorities competent to deal with illegal content. What does seem clear is that freedom of expression may not be asserted to sell counterfeit goods online.
Author: Juan José Caselles
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