EU Policy. Platform rules to apply this month as member states lag on oversight personnel

TikTok is one of the companies designated as a VLOP under the DSA.
TikTok is one of the companies designated as a VLOP under the DSA. Copyright Jessica Hill/AP2018
By Cynthia Kroet
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

The Digital Services Act, Europe’s platform rules, will apply to all companies later this month, but the majority of EU countries still haven't appointed national regulators or transposed the rules into domestic law.

ADVERTISEMENT

Under the Digital Services Act (DSA), EU-wide rules that came into force last August, online platforms with more than 45 million monthly average users in the EU must abide by strict rules, such as transparency requirements and the protection of minors online.

The DSA applies directly to the biggest 22 platforms or VLOPs including YouTube, Booking.com and Facebook, but general obligations including submitting data on content moderation decisions to a transparency database will apply across the board as of 17 February, with the exception of small companies.

National regulators, who are the platform's main point of contact in helping the European Commission with collecting evidence on implementation, will need to be designated supervisors as of 17 February too.

However, data provided by the commission shows that only nine countries have appointed a national regulator – or Digital Services Coordinator (DSC) – and communicated that to the EU executive so far: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania and Spain. In addition, the commission signed agreements with media regulators of France, Ireland and the Netherlands as an interim step before a formal Digital Services Coordinator appointment. 

New obligations

Due to the lack of authorities and national implementing laws in place, it remains unclear for businesses and regulators alike how the rules will work in practice with one more week to go.

In Poland, the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), the telecom regulator, will work on DSA enforcement, although the national Polish DSA law still needs to be transposed, a spokesperson told Euronews.

UKE has already begun “conceptual work” on the adoption of new obligations, but the spokesperson added that it’s too early offer exact details of how it will work in practice. “We are in constant contact with both the Ministry of Digitalisation and our colleagues who are coordinators in other EU countries and we exchange insights on the challenges of the new duties,” he said.

This will have an impact on online marketplaces, including Polish e-commerce platform Allegro, which has around 20 million customers each month.

Magdalena Piech, Regulatory Affairs Director at Allegro, told Euronews that consultations around the bill are now finished and that companies are waiting for a draft text. “As in other EU Member States, the delay in DSC’s nomination will impact overall readiness: for example, reporting to the commission’s database and nominating so-called trusted flaggers,” Piech said.

“We understand that these issues will be clarified soon, and we look forward to cooperating with the Digital Services Coordinator on making DSA work in practice. The commission can play an important role in providing some guidance to online platforms on the implementation before national frameworks are in place,” she added.

When asked, a spokesperson for the European Commission told Euronews that “no specific additional guidance is foreseen”. As of 17 February, a European Center of Algorithmic Transparency will support national authorities in the monitoring of compliance with the DSA. “It will produce annual reports on systemic risks coming from VLOPs as well as best practices of mitigation measures,” the spokesperson added. Ultimately, penalties for non-compliance with the rules can be up to 6% of the global turnover of the company.  

Recruitment

The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which will be the likely national enforcer for the DSA, published draft guidelines last month (18 January), explaining how businesses can get ready for DSA compliance.

A spokesperson for the authority said that the Dutch national implementing law still needs formal approval, and this will formally designate ACM as the DSC. "In the meantime, we are preparing for our role. We have appointed dozens of people in anticipation of the new tasks of the authority. We see a lot of interest,” he added.

In Ireland, the government set up Coimisiún na Meán in March 2023, replacing the former Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It has grown from 37 staff to 90 today, with the aim to reach 160 by mid-2024, a spokesperson said. Besides the DSA, it will also look at other online safety topics such as the Terrorist Content Online Regulation.

The Irish Digital Services Bill, implementing the DSA, is currently going through national parliament; expectations are it will be adopted before 17 February. Ireland has a particular responsibility under the DSA, as 13 of the 22 designated VLOPs have their EU headquarters in Ireland.

“We have been engaging extensively with companies and civil society organisations to prepare for the DSA and are working closely with the European Commission and other regulators. We will be issuing further guidance and information, especially for companies which do not have VLOP services,” the spokesperson added.

At EU-wide level, the commission said that staff working on DSA enforcement this year will reach 123 full time employees. Last month, DG Connect, the executive’s digital unit, opened two calls for interest to recruit new members for the enforcement team of the DSA, including legal officers, data scientists and policy and operations specialists.

Share this articleComments

You might also like