Today, the Commission adopted the first designation decisions under the Digital Services Act (DSA), designating 17 Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and 2 Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs) that reach at least 45 million monthly active users. These are:
Very Large Online Platforms:
Very Large Online Search Engines:
The platforms have been designated based on the user data that they had to publish by 17 February 2023.
Following their designation, the companies will now have to comply, within four months, with the full set of new obligations under the DSA. These aim at empowering and protecting users online, including minors, by requiring the designated services to assess and mitigate their systemic risks and to provide robust content moderation tools. This includes:
By 4 months after notification of the designated decisions, the designated platforms and search engines need to adapt their systems, resources, and processes for compliance, set up an independent system of compliance and carry out, and report to the Commission, their first annual risk assessment.
Platforms will have to identify, analyse and mitigate a wide array of systemic risks ranging from how illegal content and disinformation can be amplified on their services, to the impact on the freedom of expression and media freedom. Similarly, specific risks around gender-based violence online and the protection of minors online and their mental health must be assessed and mitigated. The risk mitigation plans of designated platforms and search engines will be subject to an independent audit and oversight by the Commission.
The DSA will be enforced through a pan-European supervisory architecture. While the Commission is the competent authority for supervising the designated platforms and search engines, it will work in close cooperation with the Digital Services Coordinators in the supervisory framework established by the DSA. These national authorities, which are responsible as well for the supervision of smaller platforms and search engines, need to be established by EU Member States by 17 February 2024. That same date is also the deadline by which all other platforms must comply with their obligations under the DSA and provide their users with protection and safeguards laid down in the DSA.
To enforce the DSA, the Commission is also bolstering its expertise with in-house and external multidisciplinary knowledge and recently launched the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (ECAT). It will provide support with assessments as to whether the functioning of algorithmic systems is in line with the risk management obligations. The Commission is also setting up a digital enforcement ecosystem, bringing together expertise from all relevant sectors.
Today, the Commission also launched a call for evidence on the provisions in the DSA related to data access for researchers. These are designed to better monitor platform providers' actions to tackle illegal content, such as illegal hate speech, as well as other societal risks such as the spread of disinformation, and risks that may affect the users' mental health. Vetted researchers will have the possibility to access the data of any VLOP or VLOSE to conduct research on systemic risks in the EU. This means that they could for example analyse platforms' decisions on what users see and engage with online, having access to previously undisclosed data. In view of the feedback received, the Commission will present a delegated act to design an easy, practical and clear process for data access while containing adequate safeguards against abuse. The consultation will last until 25 May.
On 15 December 2020, the Commission made the proposal on the DSA together with the proposal on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) as a comprehensive framework to ensure a safer, more fair digital space for all. Following the political agreement reached by the EU co-legislators one year ago, in April 2022, the DSA entered into force on 16 November 2022.
The DSA applies to all digital services that connect consumers to goods, services, or content. It creates comprehensive new obligations for online platforms to reduce harms and counter risks online, introduces strong protections for users' rights online, and places digital platforms under a unique new transparency and accountability framework. Designed as a single, uniform set of rules for the EU, these rules will give users new protections and businesses legal certainty across the whole single market. The DSA is a first-of-a-kind regulatory toolbox globally and sets an international benchmark for a regulatory approach to online intermediaries.
EU Official Journal text on the DSA
The whole logic of our rules is to ensure that technology serves people and the societies that we live in - not the other way around. The Digital Services Act will bring about meaningful transparency and accountability of platforms and search engines and give consumers more control over their online life. The designations made today are a huge step forward to making that happen.Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age - 25/04/2023
Today is the D(SA)-Day for digital regulation. The countdown is starting for 19 very large online platforms and search engines to fully comply with the special obligations that the Digital Services Act imposes on them.Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market - 25/04/2023
DSA: Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines
English (48.984 kB - PDF)