“We bring our European values to the digital world. With strict rules on transparency and accountability, our Digital Services Act is intended to protect our children, societies and democracies. As of today, the large online platforms must apply the new law”. This is how the President of the European Commission, Úrsula von der Leyen, greeted yesterday the entry into application of the new Digital Services Law (DSA), which will subject technology companies to content control, especially to the larger ones, which are the first to be obliged to comply with the new regulations.
The Digital Services Law replaces an obsolete Internet commerce law with more than 20 years and establishes that platforms such as social networks and search engines have to apply measures that protect users of content, goods and services that may be illegal and harmful. The regulations also oblige companies to be more transparent and explain how they recommend their content. With the DSA, they will not be able to publish advertising based on data from minors or that is especially sensitive, such as sexual orientation, religion or ethnicity.
One of the great novelties of the DSA is that it exercises its control over companies according to their size and the number of people they have registered as users. The largest are the ones that must comply with the strictest obligations, because European legislators point to them as those that pose the greatest risks to society by spreading harmful content such as disinformation.
For these large platforms, the DSA requires an annual evaluation of the risks of their services and to adapt their design or their algorithms in such a way as to limit their possible negative effects. to limit its effects. The control will also apply to threats to public safety or health in times of crisis, such as disinformation spread during the pandemic.
On the contrary, small and micro-enterprises are exempted from some obligations and have more time than larger companies to apply the rules. The application of the law will be shared between the authorities of each country, which will regulate the smaller platforms, and the European Commission, which has exclusive jurisdiction over the larger ones.
The Digital Services Law entered into force on November 16, although a series of transitional deadlines were established that will make it directly applicable throughout the European Union on February 17, 2024, but on April 25, the European Commission designated the first group of very large platforms and gave them a maximum period of four months to comply with the new regulations, which expired yesterday.
The final count of the big ones adds up to 19 platforms and search engines with more than 45 million users in the European Union, including Google, Meta, X (Twitter) and TikTok. Two of them, Amazon and Zalando, have filed appeals before the General Court of the EU because they allege that they do not conform to the definition given by the commission and want to avoid the regulations being applied to them.