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A Guide To The Digital Services Act, The EU’s New Law To Rein In Big Tech

 |  September 26, 2022

By: John Albert (Algorithm Watch)

The Digital Services Act (DSA) is a new set of regulations that would force major internet platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and others to do more to tackle the spread of illegal content and other societal risks on their services in the EU – or else risk billions of Euros in fines. Together with its sister legislation, the Digital Markets Act, it establishes a single set of rules that will apply across the whole EU and sets a potential global standard in platform governance.

The DSA aims to end an era of in which tech companies have essentially regulated themselves – setting their own policies on how to moderate content, and issuing “transparency reports” about their efforts to combat harms like disinformation that have been practically impossible for third parties to scrutinize. The DSA promises to change this status quo by forcing platforms to be more transparent about how their algorithmic systems work, and holding them to account for the societal harms stemming from the use of their services.

What’s new in the DSA?

The final version of the DSA is an over 300-page long legal document with complex rules detailing tech companies’ new legal obligations, as well as the responsibilities of the EU and member states with regard to its enforcement. It includes:

  • Clear rules for dealing with illegal content: The DSA updates the process by which digital service providers must act to rapidly delete illegal content based on national or EU law. It also reinforces an EU-wide ban on general content monitoring, such that platforms won’t be forced to systematically police their platforms to the detriment of free speech.
  • New rights for users to challenge content moderation decisions: Platforms must provide affected users with detailed explanations if ever they block accounts, or else remove or demote content. Users will have new rights to challenge these decisions with the platforms and seek out-of-court settlements if necessary…