On 15 December 2020, the European Commission finally published the long-awaited proposal for a Digital Services Act, as well as the proposal for a regulation on digital markets (link to related article).
These new regulations:
- provide stronger protection for consumers and their fundamental rights online;
- establish high standards of transparency and a clear accountability framework for online platforms; and
- will foster innovation, growth and competitiveness in the single market.
The regulation on digital services, according to the press release published, will introduce a series of new, harmonised EU-wide obligations for digital services, carefully graduated on the basis of the size and impact of those services, such as:
- rules for removal of illegal goods, services or content online;
- safeguards for users whose content has been wrongfully removed by platforms;
- new obligations for platforms to take risk-based action to prevent abuse of their systems;
- wide-ranging transparency measures, including measures relating to online advertising and to the algorithms used to recommend content to users;
- new powers to scrutinise how platforms work, including facilitating researchers’ access to key platform data;
- new rules on traceability of business users in online marketplaces, to help track down sellers of illegal goods or services;
- an innovative cooperation process among public authorities to ensure effective enforcement across the single market.
Platforms that reach more than 10% of the EU’s population (45 million users) are considered systemic in nature and are subject not only to specific obligations to control their own risks, but also to a new oversight structure. This new accountability framework will be comprised of a board of national digital services coordinators, with special powers for the Commission in supervising very large platforms, including the power to sanction them directly.
The European Parliament and the Member States will now discuss these proposals from the Commission in the ordinary legislative procedure. Once these rules are adopted, they will be directly applicable across the EU. We will have to wait to see what amendments are made during the parliamentary procedure. In any case, this effort to regulate the digital world is certainly the right way forward.
Author: Juan José Caselles
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