Digital Services Act(DSA): Explained: European Union ground rules for Web

What is the News?

The European Parliament and European Union(EU) Member States have announced that they have reached a political agreement on the Digital Services Act(DSA).

What is the Digital Services Act(DSA)?

Purpose: The Act is a set of rules on intermediaries’ obligations and accountability across the single market and ensures higher protection to all EU users irrespective of their country.

The Act will work in conjunction with the EU’s Digital Markets Act(DMA).

Coverage: The Act will apply to a large category of online services, from simple websites to Internet infrastructure services and online platforms. Any service with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU will fall into this category. 

What are the key provisions of the Digital Services Act(DSA)?

Removal of Illegal Content: Online platforms and intermediaries will have to add procedures for faster removal of content deemed illegal or harmful. The platforms will also have to clearly explain their policy on taking down content and users will also be able to challenge these takedowns as well. 

Data Access to researchers: It allows independent vetted researchers to have access to public data from these platforms to carry out studies to understand these risks better.

Ban Dark Patterns: It proposes to ban ‘Dark Patterns’ or “misleading interfaces” that are designed to trick users into doing something that they would not agree to otherwise.

Crisis Mechanism Clause: It incorporates a new crisis mechanism clause — it refers to the Russia-Ukraine conflict — which will be activated on the recommendation of the Board of national Digital Services Coordinators. This clause will make it possible to analyze the impact of the activities of these platforms on the crisis. However, these special measures will only be in place for three months.

Protection for Minors: It allows for stronger protection for minors and aims to ban targeted advertising for them based on their personal data.

Liability: The platforms and other intermediaries will not be liable for the unlawful behaviour of users. So, they still have ‘safe harbour’ in some sense. However, if the platforms are aware of illegal acts and fail to remove them, they will be liable for this user behaviour. 

Read more: Explained: Targeting big tech, what EU’s landmark Digital Act aims to achieve

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: European Union ground rules for Web” published in Indian Express on 25th April 2022

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