Last week the European Parliament approved the Digital Services Act (DSA), which aims to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses. We are pleased to see the DSA bringing more transparency and control over data. That is something we have been advocating for quite some time now. 

The DSA broadly applies to digital businesses, social media and online marketplaces. In order to comply with the DSA, these internet companies should: 

  • Crack down on illegal content and disinformation, improve reporting processes and grant users new and expanded rights when it comes to complaints;
  • Enable traceability and checks to ensure products and services are safe;
  • Increase transparency and accountability of platforms, for instance by giving users more control over the hidden algorithms that determine what videos and posts appear in their feeds; 
  • Ban misleading practices and certain types of targeted advertising, such as those targeting children, ads based on sensitive data and ads aimed at manipulating users’ choices (‘dark patterns’). 

The major online platforms and search engines (those that have 45 million or more monthly users, such as Google, Meta and Apple) will face stricter requirements. These include preventing systemic risks (such as disseminating illegal content or adversely impacting fundamental rights, electoral processes and gender-based violence or mental health) and being subject to independent audits. The major platforms will also have to give users the option of not receiving profile-based recommendations. They will also be required to allow authorities and vetted researchers to access their data and algorithms.

The DSA will come into force in 2024.

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