Digital services such as online marketplaces, social media networks, content sharing platforms, app stores and online travel and accommodation platforms form an increasingly important part of society. The EU Digital Services Act (DSA), which regulates these services, entered into force on 16 November 2022. The regulations are aimed at creating a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected and creating equal conditions in order to promote innovation, growth and competitiveness, both in the European single market and globally.
Digital service providers are divided into different sizes and categories. Different sets of rules apply depending on which category a supplier belongs to. The purpose of the classification is to ensure that different operators’ obligations correspond to their role, size and importance in the digital ecosystem. A number of different obligations apply to providers of online platforms such as app stores, digital marketplaces and social media platforms, as well as online search engines. Additional obligations are imposed on very large platforms and search engines with more than 45 million users in the EU. In order to determine the category to which a platform or search engine belongs, the DSA contains a requirement for providers of such platforms and search engines to publish certain information such as information on the number of service users.
The Regulation will begin to apply in its entirety from 17 February 2024, but providers of online platforms and online search engines are already required to adopt certain measures. Online platforms and online search engines are defined as follows:
Online platform – a hosting service, such as a social network or marketplace, that stores and distributes information to the general public at the request of a recipient of the service. Nevertheless, if the platform aspect of one service only constitutes an additional function of minor importance within another service or a function of minor importance within the main service and if this additional function or function, for objective and technical reasons, cannot be used without this other service and the integration of the additional function or function is not a means of circumventing the application of the provisions of the Regulation, it is not considered to be an online platform.
Online search engine – a service provided as an intermediary that enables users to enter search phrases in order to carry out searches on basically every website or every website in a particular language based on a question on any topic whatsoever in the form of a keyword, a voice request, a phrase or other input and that returns results in any format whatsoever containing information on the requested content.
Although the DSA will not begin to apply in its entirety until the beginning of 2024, some of its provisions already apply. These provisions mainly concern preparatory measures such as certain powers for the European Commission to adopt supplementary provisions, open certain investigations and request certain information. In addition, providers of online platforms and online search engines are required to publish, no later than 17 February 2023 and at least once every six months thereafter, information on the average number of active service users per month in the EU, calculated as an average over the previous six months (see Article 24(2) DSA). For providers who have not yet met the obligation to provide information, it is time to take action today.
Are you included in the requirements or are you curious about the DSA and the requirements contained in the regulations? You are welcome to read more on the European Commission website or contact us at Lindahl.