The European Parliament has given its initial approval to the Digital Services Act.
The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses.
The European Commission proposed two legislative initiatives to upgrade rules governing digital services in the EU: the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). They form a single set of new rules applicable across the whole EU to create a safer and more open digital space.
The DSA and DMA have two main goals:
- to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected;
- to establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.
What are Digital Services?
Digital services include a large category of online services, from simple websites to internet infrastructure services and online platforms.
The rules specified in the DSA primarily concern online intermediaries and platforms. For example, online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms.
The Digital Markets Act includes rules that govern gatekeeper online platforms. Gatekeeper platforms are digital platforms with a systemic role in the internal market that function as bottlenecks between businesses and consumers for important digital services. Some of these services are also covered in the Digital Services Act, but for different reasons and with different types of provisions.
Why do we need new rules?
The rapid and widespread development of digital services has been at the heart of the digital changes that impact our lives. Many new ways to communicate, shop or access information online have appeared, and they are constantly evolving. We need to ensure that European legislation evolves with them.
Online platforms have created significant benefits for consumers and innovation, and helped the European Union’s internal market become more efficient. They have also facilitated cross-border trading within and outside the Union. This has opened new opportunities to a variety of European businesses and traders by facilitating their expansion and access to new markets.
While there is a broad consensus on the benefits of this transformation, the problems arising have numerous consequences for our society and economy. A core concern is the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services and content online. Online services are also being misused by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation, and for other harmful purposes. These new challenges and the way platforms address them have a significant impact on fundamental rights online.
Despite a range of targeted, sector-specific interventions at EU-level, there are still significant gaps and legal burdens to address.
The accelerating digitalisation of society and the economy has created a situation where a few large platforms control important ecosystems in the digital economy. They have emerged as gatekeepers in digital markets, with the power to act as private rule-makers. These rules sometimes result in unfair conditions for businesses using these platforms and less choice for consumers.
With these developments in mind, Europe requires a modern legal framework that ensures the safety of users online, establishes governance with the protection of fundamental rights at its forefront, and maintains fair and open online platform environment.