Here is the thumbnail for our coverage of the EU DSA laws, showing an office building with EU flags outside, to highlight how new digital risk scoring rules will change the course of ecommerce.

The DSA: How the EU’s Digital Services Act will change the Internet

Every so often, new laws shift the paradigm completely. The game-changing Digital Services Act (DSA) offers a prime example, creating a new reality for consumers and corporations online. 

The EU designed the DSA to fundamentally improve your experiences on the Internet for the better. Whether you’re in the EU or beyond it, ‘the Brussels effect’ suggests that European laws help shape global norms, so it pays to learn more about the upcoming changes. Similar legislative shifts like GDPR massively impacted businesses and consumers alike, and well-prepared groups fared the best in the long run. That being said, let’s dive into the DSA, and discover how it helps us fight counterfeiting and tackle scammers online.

What is the DSA?

The DSA stands for the Digital Services Act, a set of rules designed to govern digital service providers. Legislators originally conceived the DSA to protect consumers from Big Data and Big Tech concerns around Very Large Online Providers (or VLOPs), with more than 45 million monthly active users. 

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The term VLOPs covers a broad range of platforms, including marketplaces like Alibaba, Amazon, and Zalando, app stores like the Apple AppStore or Google Play, and social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn, and even Wikipedia. However, the DSA since evolved and expanded, with ripple effects for all manner of organizations and individuals.   

Simply put, the DSA requires service providers to give their users more powerful tools to flag, report, and take down illegal content. Twitter, for example, already added a button to report scams directly under the DSA. The regulations also compel providers themselves to prove that they monitor, analyze, and improve their own content. The EU reached a political agreement on the DSA back in April 2022, and it’s already beginning to affect VLOPs. However, the rules won’t apply to all regulated entities until the 17th of February 2024.

How will it change the Internet?

Legislators built this act to bring Europe up to date with an evolving digital landscape. Understanding each specific obligation that the regulations establish helps you predict the impending digital impact.

The DSA’s obligations for service providers include:

  • More measures to counter illegal content, goods, and services, including support for ‘trusted flaggers’
  • New infrastructure to trace sellers online
  • Effective safeguards for users
  • Transparency measures
  • Protections for minors
  • Crisis response mechanisms for health and security events like pandemics or wars
  • A ban on targeted advertisements
  • A ban on ‘dark patterns’ (misleading tricks that manipulate users)
  • New data access for researchers
  • New user rights
  • A unique oversight structure
  • New liability rules 

As you can see, there’s plenty to unpack. The EU designed these obligations to benefits end users, empower SMEs, and regulate large corporations. In particular, the new focus on illegal activity and tracing sellers unlock specific applications for fighting counterfeiters, safeguarding brands, and protecting consumers from fake goods. 

Will the DSA stop online brand abuse and the sale of counterfeits?

There’s no quick fix for counterfeits, but the DSA’s new rules take power away from scammers and place it in the hands of consumers and businesses online. The EU outlined specific rules in the DSA that benefit all parties in their anti-counterfeiting efforts. These include compelling service providers to add effective listing removal procedures, transparent trader tracing infrastructure, and random checks against scam databases.

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The rules also mandate risk assessments for Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs), and new ways for public authorities to access their platforms. Crucially, the DSA outlines a role for ‘trusted flaggers’, namely third-party organizations with greater authority to flag and remove counterfeiters and scammers wherever they appear online. This strategy appears reminiscent of the YouTube priority flaggers program.

How will it affect my business?

The DSA mainly focuses on regulating VLOPs in the EU to benefit consumers. This strategy also levels the playing field for SMEs to grow, particularly as the regulations affect VLOPs and SMEs differently. Many of the laws affecting VLOP provide exemptions for SMEs, so most companies won’t have to worry about being reined in.

However, that’s not to the DSA won’t affect you. VLOPs affect almost everyone in Europe, from everyday citizens to the global entities meeting their needs: that’s the whole point of the act itself. Changes to VLOP counterfeiting, piracy, advertising, and algorithm function open up new opportunities for all digital businesses, whether they sell their wares on Amazon or not. 

While the DSA outlines radical new VLOP infrastructure, the lack of SME coverage brings risks for consumers. Smaller and medium-sized businesses need new systems tackling online risks, particularly as legislation and cybercrime evolve. Leading brands and businesses must fight for online protection, collaborating with peers and experts to stay ahead of the curve.

Conclusions: What should I do about the DSA? 

The Digital Services Act promises to play a pivotal role in curbing illegal activities on Virtual Large Online Platforms and fostering the online growth of businesses. However, brands still need a comprehensive brand protection strategy to detect and report digital threats effectively, on smaller platforms as well as VLOPs. The good news is that the EU designed the DSA meticulously to create a safer and more equitable internet environment, with a commitment to addressing online crimes with the same rigor as their offline counterparts.

Your business must prepare to adjust as it embraces the DSA, especially as VLOPs introduce fresh anti-counterfeiting and IP enforcement provisions. Collaboration with industry peers and leaders will facilitate your adaptation, enabling you to harness the DSA’s full potential. Businesses should work proactively to combat counterfeiting, ensuring revenue recovery, brand protection, and the preservation of their consumer base.

EBRAND experts are well-equipped to help you seize the DSA’s new opportunities. Whether you need to maximize the benefits of enhanced enforcement and anti-counterfeiting capabilities or reinforce your risk detection and assessment, don’t hesitate to reach out for comprehensive support and guidance. Your journey to success in the evolving digital landscape begins with informed decisions and proactive measures.

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