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What is the Digital Services Act? Everything you need to know

🆕 Many of you are probably wondering: “but, what exactly is the Digital Services Act”?

The DSA was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on October 27, 2022, and sets some new and important rules for the online ecosystem.

As a website owner, marketer, publisher or any professional operating online, this is relevant news for you. If you’re curious to know more, keep reading! You’ll find more explanation below.

what is the digital services act

🔍 Digital Services Act explained

The Digital Services Act was presented along with the Digital Markets Act.

Together, they form a single set of new rules that will be applicable across the whole EU to create a safer and more open digital space, where the fundamental rights of users are protected. They also aim at establishing a level playing field for businesses.

🧐 Why is it needed? The rapid and widespread development of digital services has had both a negative and positive impact.

On one side, it fostered communication, access to information, and trade outside the Union. On the other side, it brought some concerns surrounding illegal goods, services and content, as well as manipulative algorithms to trick users.

👉 The European Legislation simply needs to evolve in order to address these new challenges.

The rules established by the DSA include, amongst others, new measures for:

  • enhanced transparency online (ie. better information on terms and conditions or the algorithms used for recommending content or products by advertising platforms or influencers);
  • countering illegal content, goods and services online as well as tracing sellers;
  • restricting targeted advertising for some categories;
  • the overall protection of users, with new safeguards (ie. fill out a complaint, seek compensation or a court settlement, challenge platforms’ content moderation decisions, etc.);
  • the protection of minors, disinformation or election manipulation, cyber violence against women;
  • banning so-called ‘dark patterns’ on the interface of online platforms, referring to misleading tricks that manipulate users into choices they do not intend to make;
  • and more.

Read the full document published in the Official Journal of the European Union here.
Find more resources from the European Commission here.

🗓️ When will the Digital Services Act be enforced?

The Digital Services Act regulation will go into effect in 20 days in accordance with EU procedure (so in mid-November).

To give businesses time to adapt and align, according to the Commission, the majority of the DSA requirements will take effect on January 1, 2024.

🎯 Who will be affected by the DSA?

So-called VLOPs (also known as very large online platforms) — will be the first obligated to conform to the new compliance requirements.

Therefore, in the first quarter of 2023, compliance obligations will probably start to weigh heavily on a number of larger IT companies and Big Tech giants.

“The Commission will be the primary regulator for very large online platforms (reaching 45 million users), while other platforms will be under the supervision of Member States where they are established.”

💡 What should you take away from this?

  • Make sure to remember the key concepts emphasized by this new legislation: enhanced transparency and user rights, bans on illegal practices, misleading tricks and algorithms and some aspects of targeted advertising;
  • Keep an eye on your own practices surrounding these matters by putting in place transparent and compliant processes.

👉 Under the new DSA rules, dark patterns are prohibited. Learn more now about this topic and how to optimize your consent rate while avoiding dark patterns.