The European Commission (EC) finally reached political agreement on its flagship Digital Services Act (DSA), which will force global digital services providers including Google and Meta Platforms to better control content on their platforms or risk hefty fines.

Approval for the rules contained in the DSA have now been received by the European Parliament and European Union member states.

Plans for the DSA were unveiled in December 2020, setting new standards “for the accountability of online platforms regarding illegal and harmful content”.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen stated the act will “upgrade the ground rules for all online services in the EU” and ensure “the online environment remains a safe space”.

The DSA is expected to enter into force in 2024 and will complement the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which was established to ensure major online platforms behave in a fair way online. Political agreement on the DMA was reached in March 2022.

European Commission EVP Margrethe Vestager (pictured) is the primary driver of the EU strategy to rein in the US tech giants.

She stated platforms “should be transparent about their content moderation decisions, prevent dangerous disinformation from going viral and avoid unsafe products being offered on market places”.

Big fines
Under the DSA, large online platforms face fines of up to 6 per cent of their global turnover for violating the rules. Repeated “serious breaches” could see the EC impose a ban on them operating in the EU.

Reuters reported compromises had to be made to ensure the legislation could be approved. It stated Martin Schirdewan, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), described a decision to include an exemption for small- and medium-sized companies as a “mistake”, because of the “large number of companies” in the category.