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Explained: EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA)  


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Features of Digital Services Act (DSA)

Mains level: Digital space regulation, Global precedences



  • The Digital Services Act (DSA) was passed by the European Parliament in July 2022, aiming to enhance online safety and transparency for users within the European Union (EU).
  • While initially applying to major platforms like Facebook and TikTok, the DSA now extends its regulations to all platforms except the smallest ones.

Understanding the Digital Services Act (DSA)

  • Purpose: The DSA seeks to create a safer and more transparent online environment by regulating platforms offering goods, services, or content to EU citizens.
  • Key Provisions:
    1. Removal of Illegal Content: Platforms are required to prevent and remove illegal or harmful content such as hate speech, terrorism, and child abuse.
    2. User Reporting: Platforms must provide users with mechanisms to report illegal content.
    3. Ad Targeting Restrictions: Criteria like sexual orientation or political beliefs cannot be used for targeted advertising, with additional protections for children against excessive or inappropriate ads.
    4. Algorithm Transparency: Platforms must disclose how their algorithms function and influence content display.
  • Stricter Regulations for Large Platforms: Platforms reaching more than 10% of the EU population are subject to additional requirements, including data sharing, crisis response cooperation, and external audits.

Implications for Non-EU Regions

  • Global Standard: While implemented by the EU, the DSA aims to set a global benchmark for online intermediary liability and content regulation, potentially influencing policies in other regions.
  • Consistency in Policies: Platforms may adopt DSA-compliant changes universally to streamline operations, leading to broader effects beyond the EU.
  • Example of Impact: The DSA’s influence extends beyond the EU, as seen in the standardization of features like USB Type-C ports on devices like the upcoming iPhone 15 series.

Motivation behind DSA Implementation

  • Addressing Evolving Platform Dynamics: The DSA replaces outdated regulations to address the changing landscape of online platforms, emphasizing the need for improved consumer protection.
  • Tackling Risks and Abuses: Major platforms have become quasi-public spaces, posing risks to users’ rights and public participation, prompting the need for stricter regulations.
  • Fostering Innovation and Competitiveness: By creating a better regulatory environment, the DSA aims to promote innovation, growth, and competitiveness while supporting smaller platforms and start-ups.

Affected Online Platforms and Compliance Measures

  • Large Platforms: Identified platforms like Facebook, Google, Amazon, and others must comply with DSA regulations.
  • Compliance Initiatives:
    • Google: Enhancing transparency reporting and expanding data access to researchers.
    • Meta: Expanding its Ad Library and providing users with control over personalization.
    • Snap: Offering opt-out options for personalized feeds and limiting personalized ads for younger users.

Enforcement and Penalties

  • Non-compliant platforms face penalties of up to 6% of their global revenue.
  • The Digital Services Coordinator and the Commission have authority to demand immediate actions from non-compliant platforms.
  • Repeat offenders could face temporary bans from operating in the EU.


  • The implementation of the Digital Services Act marks a significant step toward enhancing online safety and transparency within the EU.
  • While initially targeting major platforms, its implications extend globally, setting standards for intermediary liability and content regulation.

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