The implementation of the EU Digital Services Act (DSA) has brought about a significant impact on major tech corporations and search engines, necessitating adherence to these regulations aimed at safeguarding users.
The DSA, which came into effect on November 16, 2022, empowers the EU to levy substantial fines on those who violate its provisions. Among the most stringent regulations, the 19 major platforms, including TikTok and Facebook, are required to establish protective measures for children and prevent interference in elections.
While the UK’s Online Safety Bill is still in the legislative process, the EU’s Digital Services Act has already been enacted. The companies, however, were granted a grace period to ensure their systems aligned with the Act’s requirements.
On April 25, the commission disclosed a list of very large online platforms, those with over 45 million EU users, subjected to the strictest rules. This list includes Alibaba, AliExpress, Amazon Store, Apple App Store, Booking.com, Facebook, Google Play, Google Maps, Google Shopping, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Wikipedia, YouTube, and Zalando. Major search engines like Google and Bing are also held accountable by these rules.
These platforms had four months to implement the Act’s stipulations, while smaller tech services have until the following year to comply. Non-compliance could result in fines of up to 6% of turnover and potential suspension of services.
The DSA mandates additional obligations for these major platforms and search engines. They must assess potential risks, report the assessment, and institute measures to address various issues, including illegal content, rights such as freedom of expression, public security, and gender-based violence. Targeted advertising based on profiling children is now prohibited.
Furthermore, these platforms are required to share algorithmic details with regulators, including those responsible for user-ad targeting and content curation. They must also have systems in place to share data with independent researchers.
Numerous organizations have expressed their commitment to compliance through blog posts and statements. Both TikTok and Meta (formerly Facebook) noted the involvement of over 1,000 employees in their efforts to meet the Act’s requirements.
Several changes have already been implemented, often focusing on personalized advertisements and feeds:
TikTok ceased showing personalized ads to users aged 13-17 in Europe based on their online activity.
Meta apps (Facebook and Instagram) discontinued displaying personalized ads to users aged 13-17 worldwide.
Snapchat restricted personalized ads for users aged 13-17 in the UK and Europe.
Google promised greater data access for understanding its services.
While many have embraced the changes, some companies have not yet detailed their modifications in response to the DSA. Zalando and Amazon, classified as very large online platforms, have taken legal action against this designation. Nonetheless, Amazon has taken measures to comply with the Act.
Wikipedia has made certain adjustments in response to the DSA, asserting that these changes won’t significantly impact users’ experiences. The Wikimedia Foundation finds the DSA’s regulatory approach preferable to the UK’s Online Safety Bill and is hopeful that lawmakers will prioritize the safeguarding of online projects.