The European Council (EC) and the European Union (EU) Parliament Saturday reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), a landmark internet law proposed by the EC in 2020.
The DSA intends to prevent the circulation of illegal digital content and to protect the fundamental rights of users by requiring online intermediaries such as Meta and Google to actively moderate digital content and undertake extensive due diligence and compliance measures. These measures include transparency reporting, terms of services duly accounting for user fundamental rights, cooperation with national authorities, establishing complaint and redressal mechanisms and external auditing.
The agreement allows the DSA to subject very large online platforms and search engines to supervisory mechanisms at the European level in cooperation with EU member states and in accordance with the country-of-origin principle, impose a duty of care on online marketplaces by requiring them to collect and display information on the products and services sold in consumer interest and obligate intermediaries to undertake yearly systemic risk reduction analyses associated with content having potentially adverse impacts on users’ fundamental rights, democratic processes, public safety, gender-based violence or physical and mental health.
Saturday’s agreement also restricts intermediaries from engaging in targeted advertising based on the use of minors’ personal data as defined in EU law and extends coverage of the DSA to prohibit misleading digital user interfaces known as ‘dark patterns’ aimed at misleading users into sharing personal information with companies.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised the agreement, saying:
Today’s agreement on the Digital Services Act is historic, both in terms of speed and of substance. The DSA will upgrade the ground-rules for all online services in the EU. It will ensure that the online environment remains a safe space, safeguarding freedom of expression and opportunities for digital businesses. It gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline, should be illegal online. The greater the size, the greater the responsibilities of online platforms. Today’s agreement – complementing the political agreement on the Digital Markets Act last month – sends a strong signal: to all Europeans, to all EU businesses, and to our international counterparts.