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The Single Digital Legal European Framework – What You Need to Know

Publication: ZRVP

The European Commission has taken significative steps towards finalizing two major pieces of legislation: the “Digital Markets Act” (DMA) and the “Digital Services Act” (DSA). This reform of rules is a package intended to protect online consumers better and lead to fairer and more open digital markets.

While technology and especially digital platforms play nowadays an obvious role in society, being considered even influencers on buyers’ behavior, there are still undeniable consequences on democracy, fundamental rights, societies and even economy. In this context, several central protagonists stood out by gaining dominant positions on the digital market, receiving significant advantages over competitors.

Although both pieces of legislation focus on establishing European standards in the digital space, they set different rules intended for distinct subjects. In this sense, so far, the DSA seems to rule consumers and their rights, while the DMA regulates companies’ behaviour in the digital environment. The DSA and DMA will create a suite of new rules directed at digital services, including social media, online marketplaces, and other online platforms and apps operating in the EU. It will impact large digital platforms, of course, but also any company doing business with them.

DMA – Qualifying as a gatekeeper

The DMA establishes certain basic notions, among which the definition of the so-called “gatekeepers” by reference to certain criteria, basically clearly delimiting those digital platforms with an important economic role by their influences within internal markets. When qualifying a company as a gatekeeper, one should analyze whether such company meets certain criteria set by the DMA, mainly referring to the impact such company has on internal markets.

DMA targets to establish more competitive friendly rules and in this respect banns gatekeepers to use unfair practices towards the business users and customers that depend on them to gain an undue advantage. Moreover, gatekeepers’ behavior on the market will be more clearly regulated by clearly stating allowed and not allowed activities.

Scope of the DSA

The DSA focuses on online intermediaries offering their services in the single market, whether they are established in the EU or outside. One eloquent measure set by DSA refers to setting a viable mechanism for the removal of illegal content (including online illegal goods or services). One of the essential tools for combating illegal content will be based on users (“trusted flaggers”), which will be able to warn about such undesirable content.

Another way imposed by DSA to strengthen users’ fundamental right online protection is prohibiting any interfaces designed specially to deceive users and business models based on personalized ads.

Next steps

As for next steps, although more milestones should be reached until DSA and MSA become applicable and negotiations are still ongoing, there are optimistic views that expect them to come into force in 2023.

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