- The Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) form a comprehensive regulatory framework to protect the rights of users and foster business competitiveness in the European Union.
- The DSA primarily targets online intermediaries and platforms, ensuring safer digital space and better protection of users’ fundamental rights.
- The DMA focuses on gatekeeper online platforms, aiming to level the playing field for businesses by curbing unfair practices.
- Despite concerns and potential obstacles, the DSA and DMA are deemed necessary steps towards realizing a better-regulated and safer digital environment for consumers and businesses alike.
- The implementation timeline indicates that most businesses and platforms need to be compliant by 2024.
Digital Services in the Spotlight
“Digital services” encompass a vast range of online offerings, from basic websites to sophisticated internet infrastructure services and online platforms. The DSA’s regulations predominantly target online intermediaries and platforms – think of online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms.
The Gatekeepers and the Digital Markets Act
The DMA concentrates on a specific type of digital service provider: the gatekeeper online platforms. These platforms play a systemic role in the internal market, acting as crucial connection points between businesses and consumers for pivotal digital services. Many of these services are also covered by the DSA, but the provisions differ due to the unique role and potential risks gatekeeper platforms pose.
Why the DSA and DMA?
Digital services have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, from communicating with each other, shopping, ordering food, to accessing entertainment. They also offer companies an easier path to trade across borders and penetrate new markets. While we reap the benefits of the digital transformation, we also face challenges.
Some of the most pressing issues include the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services, and content online. The misuse of online services by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation is another key concern. These problems significantly impact our fundamental rights online.
Previously, despite targeted interventions at the EU level, significant gaps and legal burdens were evident. Major platforms controlling essential ecosystems in the digital economy emerged as gatekeepers, often creating unfair conditions for businesses using these platforms and limiting consumer choice.
The EU adopted the DSA and DMA to address these challenges, establishing a modern legal framework ensuring online user safety, safeguarding fundamental rights, and maintaining a fair and open online platform environment.
The Road Ahead
The DSA and DMA, signed by the Presidents of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, were officially published in the Official Journal in October and November 2022, respectively. The DSA came into force on 16 November 2022, and the DMA on 1 November 2022.
Online platforms must publish their active user numbers by 17 February 2023. If a platform or a search engine has over 45 million users (representing 10% of the European population), the Commission will designate them as “very large” and they will have to comply with DSA’s obligations, including providing the Commission with their first annual risk assessment. All EU Member States are required to appoint Digital Services Coordinators by 17 February 2024.
As for the DMA, companies need to provide the Commission with their user numbers before 3 July 2023, so the Commission can designate “gatekeepers” before 6 September. These gatekeepers will have until March 2024 to ensure they comply with DMA’s obligations.
In Conclusion: A New Dawn for Digital Europe
The implementation of the DSA and DMA marks a significant milestone in the journey towards a safer and more competitive digital environment in Europe. These regulations are a testament to the EU’s commitment to protect users’ rights and foster a fair business environment.
Businesses should proactively understand these regulatory changes, assess potential impacts on their operations, and prepare for the necessary adjustments. The ultimate goal should be creating digital services that respect users’ rights and promote innovation and competition, thereby contributing to a robust and vibrant digital economy in Europe.
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