The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) came into force on November 16, 2022. The DSA creates comprehensive new obligations for online platforms, introduces protections for users' rights online, and places digital platforms under a new transparency and accountability framework. The DSA is a first-of-a-kind regulatory toolbox globally, which sets an international benchmark for a regulatory approach to online intermediaries.
The DSA follows the Digital Markets Act, which came into force on November 1, 2022.
Read the full text of the DSA.
What Happens Now That the DSA Is in Force?
Online platforms and search engines have until February 17, 2023 to specify on their websites the number of active users on their platform, and preferably report this figure to the EU Commission. This will enable the EU Commission to make a determination as to whether the entities should be designated as “very large” (i.e., with average monthly active users of 45 million and above) online platforms or search engines.
Those entities designated as very large will have four months from the date of their designation to comply with their obligations under the DSA and to provide the EU Commission with their first annual risk assessment.
Other online intermediaries, search engines, and platforms have until February 17, 2024, to comply with their obligations under the DSA.
What Should Online Platforms and Search Engines Do?
Online platforms and search engines will need to publish their user figures by February 17, 2023. They should also review the DSA and consider whether they are likely to fall into the “very large” category (and therefore require full compliance with the DSA in the near future) or if they are likely to have a longer time period until compliance is required, or if they can benefit from any of the exemptions (e.g., for micro or small enterprises).
United States and United Kingdom Applicability
United States and United Kingdom businesses can fall within the scope of the DSA where they offer their services to users in the European Union.
The UK has proposed an Online Safety Bill, which is in the early stages of the legislative process. It remains to be seen how closely aligned to the DSA the final UK legislation will be, if passed.