Today, the European Commission has launched the Digital Services Terms and Conditions Database, which features the terms and conditions of digital services, with a focus on online platforms such as social media, app stores or marketplaces. This database is a Commission initiative, which complements the various transparency requirements introduced by the Digital Services Act (DSA), including the obligation for online platforms to provide an easily understandable, plain-language summary of their terms and conditions, in the languages of the Member States where they operate.
The Digital Services Terms and Conditions Database will serve as a go-to resource for users, regulators, and stakeholders. Regulators will be able to monitor the digital landscape and assess legal compliance with regulations. Researchers will have the opportunity to gain real-time insights into changing terms and conditions through the database.
The database uses open-source software developed by Open Terms Archive, an initiative under the political sponsorship of France’s ambassador for digital affairs, with support from the Commission’s next-generation Internet programme. The newly launched database currently already holds a repository of 790 terms and conditions from various service providers. The database uses an automated system which scrutinises the terms and conditions in the database multiple times daily and highlights new changes.
The DSA introduces a completely new level of accountability through various transparency mechanisms. These include the requirement for all online platforms to disclose their monthly active users and publish transparency reports and for designated Very Large Online Platforms or Search Engines to establish ad repositories, publish audit reports, produce risk assessment reports, and provide researcher access. The DSA also mandates the Commission to maintain a Transparency Database, which includes statements of reasons detailing the information platforms must provide to users when content is removed or restricted.