The European Union has designated 19 online platforms that will be subject to the highest level of regulation in the region under the Digital Services Act (DSA). Authorities will pay close attention to the use of AI algorithms and recommendations, as well as targeted advertising on these platforms, including Google, TikTok and others.
The list is a mix of well known digital services like: Twitter, Apple’s App Store, YouTube and Alphabet’s Google Search, Facebook* and Instagram* by Meta* Platforms as well as TikTok, Snapchat and others (see the full list at the bottom of the article). The platforms listed either meet the criteria for very large online platforms (VLOP) or very large online search engines (VLOSE). The main criterion for regulation as a VLOP/VLOSE under the DSA is the presence of more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU.
The EU’s idea is to use mandatory transparency requirements for algorithms to ensure accountability – meaning regulated platforms can’t turn a blind eye to the harm of AI and recommendation algorithms, as the law also requires companies to “appropriate, proportionate and effective mitigation measures» for identified risks subject to independent review and oversight by the European Commission (supported by the recently established European Center for Algorithmic Transparency). Fines for violations can account for up to 6% of a company’s global annual revenue. Businesses have until August 25 to bring their operations into compliance with the DSA.
Among the risks they need to consider are the damage caused by AI or algorithms to fundamental rights such as: freedom of expression, civil society discourse and electoral processes, public safety and health, gender-based violence, child safety and mental health. The regulation also imposes some restrictions on micro-targeted advertising, with a ban on processing sensitive data for ad targeting or using information about children. While marketplaces have some requirements to verify the identity of sellers.
VLOPS/VLOSE users should also be provided with clear information as to why certain content is recommended to them based on the collection of their personal data. As a result, the law will put pressure on ad-supported business models like Meta.*that are based on tracking and collecting user data. Some of these platforms may not be ready for this specific DSA compliance regime. In particular, as early as November last year, the Commission warned Twitter and directly the boss of Elon Musk about “well done‘, which he must fulfill in order to comply with the rules of the bloc.
The Commission has suggested that a second batch of VLOP/VLOSE, regulated by the DSA, could be launched in the next few weeks. It was pointed out that the European Commission will carry out checks on some other platforms that have not confirmed their compliance with the law’s criteria.
Below is the full list of platforms under scrutiny in Europe:
- Alibaba AliExpress – Marketplace;
- Amazon Store – Marketplace;
- Apple AppStore – storage for digital content;
- Bing is a search engine;
- Booking.com is a hotel search platform;
- Facebook* – Social network;
- Google Play is a digital content store;
- Google Maps is a map service;
- Google Search – search engine;
- Google Shopping is a service for finding products in online shops;
- Instagram* – Social network;
- LinkedIn – social network;
- Pinterest is a social platform and photo hosting;
- Snapchat – social network;
- TikTok is a short video service;
- Twitter – social network;
- Wikipedia is an online library;
- YouTube – video hosting;
- Zalando is a marketplace.
* It is included in the list of public associations and religious organizations for which the court made a final decision to liquidate or ban activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Law No. 114-FZ of July 25. 2002 “On Countering Extremist Activities”.