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What does the Digital Service Act mean for my business?

What does the Digital Service Act mean for my business?

From 17 February 2024, the Digital Services Act (DSA) will apply. This new regulation within the European Union has far-reaching implications for all businesses offering online services; from e-commerce platforms and social media to search engines and cloud services such as Amazon, Instagram and YouTube. It is crucial for your business to understand what these changes mean and how to prepare for them.

Key points of the DSA
  • Tackling illegal content: Online platforms will be required to prevent illegal content and make it inaccessible as soon as possible. This means implementing efficient mechanisms to quickly identify and remove such content.
  • Transparency and accountability: You are expected to be transparent about advertising, recommended content and user accounts. This includes clear communication about on whose behalf ads are shown, why certain content is removed or recommended and why accounts are suspended. In addition, showing advertisements based on profiles consisting of sensitive personal data is not allowed.
  • Protection of user rights: The DSA emphasises respecting users' rights, including the right to object to content decisions. You should set up an accessible and effective complaint handling mechanism.
  • Prohibition of 'dark patterns': Misleading design practices that encourage users to make unintended choices are banned. Your interfaces must be clear, fair and designed with the user's best interests in mind.
  • Special rules for large platforms: If your platform is considered a 'very large online platform' (more than 45 million users in the EU), you will face additional obligations, such as risk assessments and independent audits.
Preparing for the DSA
  1. Evaluate your current practices: Start by identifying what type of service, as referred to in the DSA, your company provides. Then assess your current processes for content management, user interaction and complaint handling. Identify areas that need improvement to meet DSA standards.
  2. Develop and update policies: Make sure your terms and conditions, privacy policy and user guidelines are up-to-date and in line with DSA requirements. Transparency and clear communication are key.
  3. Train your team: Make sure your employees are well aware of the new rules and understand how to apply them in their daily work.
  4. Stay up-to-date: The DSA is a complex and dynamic regulation. Stay up to date with the latest developments and recommendations from legal experts and regulators such as the Consumer & Market Authority (ACM) in the Netherlands.

The introduction of the DSA creates a safer and more transparent digital environment in Europe. By complying with these legal requirements, you will not only avoid fines and reputational damage, but you can also strengthen the trust of your users.

There is a draft version of the Dutch Consumer & Market Authority's DSA guidance document. This guidance document can help with navigating through the DSA and will be updated later, based on the consultation. The ACM is the supervisory authority in the Netherlands. The guidance document is therefore only available in Dutch.

Some compliance facts about compliance with the DSA:

  • The ACM will supervise providers based in the Netherlands and is authorised to enforce the DSA starting 17 February 2024;
  • Very large platforms and search engines have had to comply with the DSA since 25 August last year. The European Commission designates these large platforms and search engines and also supervises them;
  • Less (strict) rules apply to small and micro-enterprises (SMEs), which employ fewer than 50 people and whose annual turnover does not exceed 10 million euros.

Should you have any questions or need support in navigating the DSA, do not hesitate to contact us.