Very Large Online Platforms ("VLOP") and Very Large Online Search Engines ("VLOSE") now have to comply with stricter obligations to prevent the dissemination of illegal content online.
Indeed, 25 August 2023 marks the date from which the anticipated application of the Digital Services Act1 to VLOP and VLOSE starts. VLOP and VLOSE refer to online platforms and online search engines (i) which have a number of average monthly active users in the European Union equal to or higher than 45 million, and (ii) which are designated by the European Commission. The first list, available here, was established by the European Commission on 25 April 20232 .
With the purpose of ensuring a safe, predictable and trustworthy online environment, the Digital Services Act provides for a set of layered obligations on providers of digital services (online intermediaries and platforms). Illegal content is defined broadly and encompasses illegal products, services and activities. Hate speech, unlawful discriminatory content, sale of counterfeit products or non-authorised use of copyright protected material are some of the online behaviours against which the Digital Services Act intends to fight.
VLOP and VLOSE will for example be subject to audit inspections at least annually and have to carry out systemic risks assessments in relation to their services. They also have to publish regular reports on the content moderation performed and establish a compliance function.
The smaller providers of online intermediary services and online platforms also targeted by the Digital Services Act will have to comply with the provisions of this new EU Regulation from 17 February 2024.
1. Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of The Council of 19 October 2022 on a Single Market For Digital Services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC (the "Digital Services Act").
2. The platforms had to publish their user data by 17 February 2023.
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