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  • Mal McCallion

EU laying down digital law

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

The European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA) is coming this week - and it's a genuine game-changer for the digital landscape.

It aims to safeguard users online, protect individual rights, and foster innovation and growth among online businesses, particularly small ones.

Essentially it's looking to seriously impact the operations of what it calls Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs). You can guess the targets; they include Meta/Facebook, Alphabet/Google, Twitter/X ... (you'd be forgiven for thinking the fact none of them keeps their original name suggests they're already trying to outmanoeuvre something).

From this Friday, 01 September 2023, these VLOPs have to act in certain ways in order to comply with the new rules. Smaller platforms (SOPs?) are allowed until Feb 2024 to do the same. It's already having an impact - at Meta, the UK's own Nick Clegg (remember him?) has been out telling the world how they've got over 1,000 staff devoted to changing the platform to comply with the new rules.

It doesn't relate directly to the UK, of course, as we're not part of the EU anymore - however, any digital platform that wants to operate in any EU area has to comply. As broadly UK-focused businesses it won't affect the majority of estate agents directly - but it is could change the platforms that you use, as they will have to change their operating procedures.

So here's your 'good to know' about what it is - the UK's own 'Online Safety Bill' will be along shortly, of course, which will take account of how the EU's has worked. But it's already a Frankenstein's Monster of various lobbyists' desires so don't expect it to do much ...


The DSA aims to improve the online experience, promote accountability, and harmonise market regulations. It covers a wide range of digital subjects and services. To achieve compliance, businesses must understand how the DSA defines certain elements, such as the types of services offered, the nature of the business, and its size and scale.

The DSA emerged to address significant issues in the digital markets and offer greater transparency across providers. It covers all digital players in the EU single market, including Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs), intermediaries, and micro and smaller growth organisations. Any organisation providing digital services within the EU must comply with the DSA, regardless of where they are headquartered.

The DSA imposes various obligations on providers. All providers must designate a single point of contact to communicate directly with authorities in EU member states, the European Commission, and the European Board for Digital Services. Providers must also establish procedures to address illegal activity.

Non-compliance with the DSA can lead to penalties determined by the digital services coordinators in their national laws. The European Commission can impose fines of up to 6% of the provider’s global turnover for VLOPs and VLSEs.

To prepare for the DSA, organisations should determine its relevance, perform a regulatory gap assessment, evaluate information security, establish relationships with regulators, and conduct staff training.

The DSA is a seismic piece of regulation expected to make digital users' lives and digital society more secure. For online businesses, preparation for compliance is critical in the months ahead.

And here's a deeper dive if you fancy it :)

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