On 2 June 2020, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the proposed Digital Services Act (DSA).  The consultation seeks to gather views, evidence and data from people, businesses, online platforms, academics, civil society and all interested parties, on the issues concerning digital services and online platforms.

If enacted the DSA will represent the most significant piece of legislation in the digital market since the e-Commerce Directive was adopted 20 years ago. All interested parties should take this opportunity to have their views heard and potentially impact the EU’s future rule-book for digital services.

What is the DSA?

As part of the EU’s digital strategy the European Commission has proposed a DSA to strengthen the responsibility of online platforms and clarify rules for online services.

The DSA is intended to build on rules currently applicable to digital services i.e. the E-Commerce Directive and the Platform to Business Regulation, by addressing the following issues:

  • Clear due diligence, transparency and information obligations on digital service providers;
  • Specific rules for online market places;
  • Clear and detailed procedures and measures related to the removal of illegal content online, including a harmonised legally-binding European notice-and action mechanism;
  • Effective supervision, cooperation and sanctions; and
  • An internal market legal instrument imposing ex-ante obligations on large platforms with a gatekeeper role in the digital ecosystem, complemented by an effective institutional enforcement mechanism.

The DSA will also cover all activities of companies and service providers not established in the EU, when they offer their goods or services to consumers or users in the EU.

The Consultation

The DSA consultation is broken down into 6 modules and you can respond to as many as you like:

1.How to effectively keep users safer online?
This module seeks evidence, experience and data from different stakeholders regarding illegal activities online and other activities online that are not necessarily illegal but could cause harm to users. It also seeks views on the potential risks of erroneous removal of legitimate content among other issues.

2.Reviewing the liability regime of digital services acting as intermediaries
This module seeks views on how the current liability exemption regime under the E-commerce Directive is working and the areas where an update might be necessary.

3.What issues derive from the gatekeeper power of digital platforms?
This module seeks views from all stakeholders on the specific perceived problems and the parameters for addressing possible issues deriving from the economic power of large, gatekeeper platforms.

4.Other emerging issues and opportunities, including online advertising and smart contracts
This module seeks to collect data, information on current practices and informed views on potential issues emerging in the area of online advertising and smart contracts. Respondents are invited to reflect on other areas where further measures may be needed to facilitate innovation in the single market.

5.How to address challenges around the situation of self-employed individuals offering services through online platforms?
This module seeks information and views on the situation of self-employed individuals offering services through platforms (such as ride-hailing, food delivery, domestic work, design work, micro-tasks etc.). It also seeks views on whether any detected problems are specific to the platform economy and what would be the perceived obstacles to the improvement of the situation of individuals providing services through platforms.

6.What governance for reinforcing the Single Market for digital services?
This module seeks views on the current state of the Single Market and steps for further improvements for a Single Market for digital services. It also enquires about the impact of Covid-19 on digital services in the EU. It then focuses on appropriate governance and oversight over digital services across Europe.

There is also an opportunity at the end of the consultation to upload a position paper, article, report, or other evidence and data for the attention of the Commission.

Consultation Deadline
Those who wish to respond to the consultation survey must register their details to do so and have until the 8th of September 2020 to respond to the consultation.

If you need support preparing submissions on the DSA consultation please contact our Digital Content and Reputation Risk Team here.