This post was originally published on Seyfarth’s International Dispute Resolution Blog.
On 16 November 2022, EU Regulation 2022/2065, better known as the Digital Services Act (“DSA”), came into force. The DSA is a key development in the use of online services in the European Union (“EU”), with an impact on online services as significant as the one which the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) had upon the collection, use, transfer, and storage of data originating in the EU on 25 May 2018.
The DSA sets out rules and obligations for digital services providers that act as intermediaries in their role of connecting consumers with goods, services, and content.
Its goal is to regulate and control the dissemination of illegal or harmful content online, provide more consumer protection in online marketplaces, and to introduce safeguards for internet users and users of digital services. It also introduces new obligations for major online platforms and search engines to prevent such platforms being abused.
The DSA applies to a wide range of providers of:
(a) Intermediary services offering network infrastructure such as internet access providers, domain name registrars, and other providers of what is described as ‘mere conduit’ or ‘caching’ services;
(b) Hosting services such as cloud and webhosting services;
(c) Online platforms bringing together sellers and consumers such as online marketplaces, app stores, collaborative economy platforms and social media platforms; and
(d) Very large online platforms and very large online search engines that are used to disseminate content and information.
The DSA applies in the EU, and to those providers outside the EU that offer their services in the EU. If a provider is not established in the EU, they will have to appoint a legal representative within the EU.
The DSA splits providers into tiers. The most heavily regulated tier covers Very Large Online Platforms (“VLOP”s) and Very Large Online Search Engines (“VLSE”s). The main criteria that will bring a provider under the scope of the DSA as a VLOP or VLSE is whether it operates a platform servicing more than 45 million monthly active end users located in the EU.