The EU Institutions are working towards the adoption of a Digital Services Act package to clarify the roles and responsibilities of online platforms, to maintain effective competition in markets characterised by large platforms acting as gatekeepers and significant network effects, and to tackle the dissemination of illegal content and the sale of illicit, dangerous or counterfeit goods.
In this context, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) published recommendations in May 2020 on how to make the Digital Services Act work for consumers. BEUC, welcoming the Commission’s intention to upgrade the liability and safety rules for digital platforms, services and products, emphasises that additional regulatory obligations must be imposed on platforms, as self-regulation is ineffective and insufficient.
BEUC, inter alia, recommends establishing a toolbox of obligations for all types of online platforms. This toolbox should, at minimum, include clarifications to the liability regime of the e-Commerce Directive, to reflect on the evolution of platform economy and the more active intermediary role that many hosting service providers (notably online platforms) have assumed, and to ensure that online intermediaries are held liable “when failing to expeditiously remove, disable access to and take reasonable steps to prevent reappearance of illegal activities they have knowledge of or have been made aware of them.”
The toolbox should, moreover, establish meaningful transparency and information requirements, addressing problems created by advertising and marketing practices. BEUC recommends that regulation should cover all categories of advertising, not just political advertising, should consider the opacity of the ad-tech ecosystem and should ensure, at the very least, that consumers have the same level of information as advertisers have, including the type of targeting criteria applied and the source behind the ad.
Finally, BEUC emphasizes the need for better oversight and enforcement in the fast-paced digital markets. In this regard, it proposes that the EU ensures effective cooperation between data protection, consumer protection and competition authorities, as well as better cross-border cooperation between national enforcement authorities.
(Image source: EDiMA)