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Not Just Tech Giants, Non-EU Regions also to be Mindful of Digital Services Act

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The Digital Services Act (DSA) of the EU has officially taken effect. The DSA is a significant piece of legislation that intends to control the online activities of tech companies and more, as well as to make everyone's access to the internet safer and more open. Starting on August 25th, 2023, industry titans like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others will have to abide by broad law that holds social media sites liable for the content that users publish on them.

Despite the fact that this new rule was approved in the EU, it is expected to have a significant global impact as companies modify their strategies to comply. Here are the specifics of the DSA's functions and how the EU intends to enforce them.

The Digital Services Act (DSA), which was approved by the European Parliament in July 2022, is a new set of regulations designed to increase user safety and transparency in the online environment. It applies to websites like social media, e-commerce, and cloud services that provide products, services, or content to EU nationals. Online platforms must take action to prevent and remove dangerous or illegal information, including as hate speech, terrorism, child abuse, and those that advertise illegal items, according to the DSA. Additionally, DSA mandates that platforms provide users with the tools needed to report this kind of content.

For very large online platforms—defined as those that reach more than 10 percent of the EU's population (or roughly 45 million users) each month—the DSA has stronger regulations. These platforms must cooperate with rules for crisis response, exchange data with authorities and researchers, and submit to external audits.

Significance to Non-EU Regions
The DSA was implemented, according to the official website of the European Union, since platforms have experienced significant changes over the past 20 years, making the Electronic Commerce Directive obsolete. Online platforms have benefited consumers greatly, but the EU recognizes that they are sometimes "abused for disseminating illegal content, or selling illegal goods or services online."

In addition to building on the previous e-commerce directive, the DSA aims to reduce constraints brought on by inconsistent legal frameworks by fostering a better environment for innovation, growth, and competitiveness, and facilitating the scaling up of smaller platforms, SMEs, and start-ups.

Although the DSA was enacted by the EU for the EU, its consequences may go much beyond those continental boundaries. The EU anticipates that the Act will act as a benchmark for effective online involvement to defend fundamental rights.

Additionally, platforms favor consistent policies that are simpler to put into practice and manage. As a result, the DSA may influence the platforms to make adjustments that have an impact outside of the EU. For instance, even though the USB Type-C port is only required in the EU, the forthcoming iPhone 15 series is likely to include one there as well.

Online Platforms on the Risk
With more than 45 million monthly users in the EU, very large online platforms (or very large online search engines) are regarded as such by the EU. 19 platforms and search engines have been created by the EU that fit under this category thus far, including Google Search, Bing, YouTube, Wikipedia, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google Maps.

Each of these sites will be required by the EU to update its user counts at least once every six months. A platform will be removed off the list if it has fewer than 45 million monthly users for a full calendar year.

Many of these companies have already described how they plan to abide by the DSA. Here's a quick rundown of the most noteworthy ones.

Google
Google declared that it is extending its Ads Transparency Center to comply with the DSA's criteria, even though it claims to already adhere to several of the practices envisioned by the legislation, such as allowing YouTube producers to contest video removals and limits. In order to provide academics greater knowledge on "how Google Search, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play, and Shopping work in practice," the business also committed to extending data access. Additionally, it will improve its transparency reporting and examine any potential "risks of the dissemination of illegal content, or risks to fundamental rights, public health, or civic discourse."

Meta
The Ad Library, which currently gathers the advertisements displayed on its platforms, is being expanded by Meta, the firm that owns Facebook and Instagram. The business will soon begin publishing and storing all of the advertising that target people in the EU, together with the targeting criteria and the person who received the ad. As part of its drive for transparency, Meta published a lengthy study in June detailing how their algorithm functions on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, it will begin enabling European users to see material chronologically on Facebook and Instagram's Reels, Stories, and Search without being subjected to its personalization engine.

The EU anticipates that the Act will act as a benchmark for effective online involvement to defend fundamental rights.

Snapchat
Likewise, Snapchat has published reports on how it rates the postings on its Discover and Spotlight sites and will give EU users the choice to turn off tailored feeds on these pages. The business has promised to offer users the resources they need to challenge the decision, as well as more information about why their posts or accounts have been deleted. Additionally, Snapchat will no longer show tailored adverts to 13 to 17-year-old European Snapchat users. Additionally, it will record the targeted ads it displays in the EU and allow Snapchat users over the age of 18 in Europe more discretion over the ads they see.

Consequences of Non-Compliant Companies
Online platforms who don't comply with the DSA's guidelines risk paying fines up to six percent of their annual global turnover. The EU Commission states that the Commission and the Digital Services Coordinator will have the authority to require immediate actions where necessary to address very serious harms. In the EU, a platform that persistently defies the rules risked temporary suspension.

Some companies are already opposing the DSA in the EU. Amazon submitted a petition in July asking the EU to reconsider classifying it as a very large online platform since it feels that it is being ‘unfairly singled out’. In a similar manner, German retailer Zalando sued the EU Commission, asserting that it does not fit the definition of a very big online platform.

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