The Commission services have signed administrative arrangements with the media regulators of France (Autorité de regulation de la communication audiovisuelle et numérique, Arcom) and Ireland (Coimisiún na Meán), to support its supervisory and enforcement powers under the Digital Services Act (DSA). These arrangements aim at developing expertise and capabilities and follow the Commission Recommendation to Member States for coordinating their response to the spread and amplification of illegal content on Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines, ahead of the deadline for Member States to play their role in the enforcement of the DSA.
The DSA sets landmark rules to shape a secure and trusted online environment in the EU. Ensuring closer cooperation with Member States and national regulatory authorities has become even more crucial to achieve this in the current context of conflict and uncertainty, particularly with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and now with the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel.
These bilateral arrangements will allow the Commission services and relevant national authorities to exchange information, data, good practices, methodologies, technical systems and tools. Effective cooperation will facilitate the Commission’s assessment of systemic risks, the identification of emerging ones, including risks related to the spread and amplification of illegal content, as well as other systemic risks under the DSA, such as the spreading of disinformation or the protection of minors.
The arrangements will be of particular importance until the establishment of the Board of Digital Services Coordinators, which is due for February 2024 and will be composed of independent Digital Service Coordinators of the Member States. Once the Board is operational, these arrangements will continue to provide an added value to organise the practical relationships between Commission services and national authorities in full compliance with the DSA.
The Commission service responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the DSA, the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) is in discussions with other national regulators and EU bodies to sign similar administrative arrangements to support it in its assessment of systemic and emerging issues under the DSA. The Commission will announce them in due time.
At the end of August 2023, the DSA became legally enforceable for designated Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines. The DSA aims at empowering and protecting users online, among other things by requiring the designated services to assess and mitigate their systemic risks and to provide robust content moderation tools.
The designated platforms have now completed the first annual risk assessment exercise to examine risks such as how illegal content might be disseminated through their services. The DSA requires Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines to adopt mitigation measures that are tailored to the specific systemic risks identified. Very Large Online Platforms have to assess the risks their systems pose, including systemic risks about illegal content and for protecting public interests.
The Member States are obliged to designate their Digital Services Coordinators and other national competent authorities responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the Digital Services Act by 17 February 2024. Nonetheless, the effective monitoring and enforcement of this Regulation by the Commission in relation to those designated Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines already requires the assistance of and active cooperation with a wide range of relevant national entities.
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The horrific events spurred by Hamas’ terrorist attack have exposed the world to waves of violent content online. The EU’s Digital Services Act established rules and tools to tackle the rapid spread of such harmful and often illegal content on social media platforms and online services. I welcome the first national regulators in joining the Commission in an urgent response to unprecedented events.
The DSA gives us the means to tackle the online dissemination of illegal content and address the threats to our public safety and democracy. We must make full use of it. I welcome these first agreements with national regulators which will ensure their expertise supports the Commission’s assessment of the risks stemming from illegal and harmful content on very large online platforms.