On 4 October 2022, the European Union's Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopted formally the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA is known formally as the "Regulation on a Single Market for Digital Services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC" and is designed to create a safe digital space for both citizens and businesses.
The next step is both (a) the President of the European Parliament and (b) the President of the Council will sign the DSA; it will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
The DSA will apply 15 months after it enters into force and will further protect and recognise the fundamental rights of online users. The EU believes that the measure should make the online world safer and more accountable.
The measure applies to providers of so-called 'intermediary services' on social media, online marketplaces, very large online platforms and very large online search engines. It imposes obligations on such providers.
The larger the provider, the tougher the rules under the DSA; this is because it is believed that larger providers have a more significant societal impact.
The DSA obliges providers to:
be accountable for their role in disseminating illegal and harmful content
not to sell online any illegal product or service
provide greater protection for minors
not use 'dark patterns' or misleading practices
The DSA has a "crisis response mechanism" to deal with how the Internet is used during crises (e.g., a war).
The EU believes that the DSA will set the world benchmark or standard for online protection and is encouraging other parts of the world to emulate the DSA.
While the EU's legal framework for digital services remained largely unchanged since the adoption of the e-commerce directive in 2000, the regime is now changing rapidly. In December 2020, the European Commission proposed the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the DSA. (Provisional agreement was reached on the DMA by the Council and the European Parliament on 24 March 2022 and signed by the Council and the European Parliament on 15 September 2022.) It is expected that the DMA will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 13 October 2022.
Together, the DSA and the DMA will become a critical part of the EU's desire to ensure a safe online environment.