The Digital Services Act is a comprehensive set of new rules, which regulate the responsibilities of digital services. Together with the Digital Markets Act, it will create a safer digital space for users of digital services, protecting their fundamental rights online. The Acts will also create a level playing field so that digital businesses can grow within the single market and compete globally.

image evoking the wealth of services available online

As part of the European Digital Strategy, Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, the European Commission proposed two legislative initiatives: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. The Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) will address new challenges that have surfaced with digital developments. At the same time, the Acts will ensure users, consumers and businesses continue to benefit from digital developments.

With this in mind, the DSA and DMA have two main goals:

  1. to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected
  2. to establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally

More information on the Digital Services Act

More information on the Digital Markets Act

What are Digital Services?

Digital services include a large category of online services, from simple websites to internet infrastructure services and online platforms.

The rules specified in the DSA primarily concern online intermediaries and platforms. For example, online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores as well as online travel and accommodation platforms.

The Digital Markets Act includes rules that govern gatekeeper online platforms. Gatekeeper platforms are digital platforms with a systemic role in the internal market that function as bottlenecks between businesses and consumers for important digital services. Some of these services are also covered in the Digital Services Act, but for different reasons and with different types of provisions.

Why do we need new rules?

The rapid and widespread development of digital services has been at the heart of the digital changes that impact our lives. Many new ways to communicate, shop or access information online have appeared, and they are constantly evolving. We need to ensure that European legislation evolves with them.

While these changes have brought many benefits to our society, they have also brought new risks to both our society and economy. A core concern is the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services and content online. Online services are also being misused by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation. These new challenges, and the way platforms address them, have a significant impact on fundamental rights online.

Despite a range of targeted, sector-specific interventions at EU-level, there are still significant gaps and legal burdens to address.

The accelerating digitalisation of society and the economy has created a situation where a few large platforms control important ecosystems in the digital economy. They have emerged as gatekeepers in digital markets, with the power to act as private rule-makers. These rules, however, sometimes result in unfair conditions for businesses using these platforms and less choice for consumers.

The European Single Market therefore needs a modern legal framework that ensures the safety of users online, establishes a governance with the protection of fundamental rights at its forefront, and maintains a fair and open online platform environment.

What was the process up to now and how were stakeholders involved?

The Commission consulted a wide range of stakeholders in preparation of this legislative package. These stakeholders included, inter alia, the private sector, users of digital services, civil society organisations, national authorities, academia, the technical community, international organisations and the general public. An array of complementary consultation steps were also carried out to fully capture stakeholder views on issues related to digital services and platforms.

This summer, the Commission consulted stakeholders to further support its work in this area. The evidence was used to identify specific issues that may require EU-level intervention in the context of the DSA and the DMA. European and non-European citizens and organisations were welcome to contribute to this consultation.

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