The Act (DSA) sets rules that the EU designed to make very large online platforms (VLOPs) “tackle the spread of illegal content, online disinformation and other societal risks” presented by online service providers.”
The DSA and the Digital Market Act (DMA) are a double act. Both were introduced in 2022 and will be implemented in phases through early 2024. While the DMA applies to companies who act as gatekeepers of online services and are designed to ensure equal access for some third-party software, the DSA is all about ensuring that activities which are illegal in the real world are enforceably illegal online, too.
Under the DSA digital service providers – including hosting services, online platforms, VLOPs and even intermediary service providers like ISPs – have obligations to ensure that products sold are safe and not counterfeit, and to eliminate advertising that targets minors or is served using sensitive data. Another requirement is to get rid of dark patterns in advertising. Clarity on how orgs moderate content and a requirement to present their algorithms for scrutiny is also required.
VLOPs, which the DSA defines as platforms large enough to reach 10 percent of the EU’s population, or around 45 million people, have even more rules to comply with.
The EU believes that VLOPs present the most risk to the public due to their wide reach. In addition to rules that other digital service providers have to follow, VLOPs also have to share data with “vetted” researchers and governments, allow users to opt out of profiling recommendations, submit to regular audits, and have risk management and a crisis response plans in place.
The EU made its initial declaration to cover 17 VLOPs and two very large online search engines (Bing and Google) on April 25. The DSA will apply to any and all digital service providers come February 2024. VLOPs were told they had four months from the day they were designated to achieve compliance.
Non-compliant VLOPs could face fines of up to six percent of global turnover, rather than the relatively small fines they usually face. The EC said it also has the power to require immediate platform changes and, in the case of continued noncompliance, has the right to suspend offenders from the trading bloc entirely.