The European Union has enacted legislation requiring online services to implement risk management practices in order to limit the spread of illegal goods, services or content, as well as counter misinformation and disinformation.

The Digital Services Act (DSA), agreed upon one month after the Digital Markets Act, aims to improve user safety on online platforms including social media networks, online businesses, internet access providers, webhosting services and large search engines, among others.

Security implications of the Digital Services Act

Online platforms operating in the EU will be responsible for content moderation and user protection, as laid out by the legislation. The DSA contains measures to counter fraud and misinformation, including new obligations on traceability of ecommerce users; data transparency surrounding online risk; independent risk auditing of online platforms; and the ability to challenge platform's content moderation decisions either in or out of court.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the DSA will update the operational rules for online services in the European Union. According to von der Leyen, "It will ensure that the online environment remains a safe space, safeguarding freedom of expression and opportunities for digital businesses. It gives practical effect to the principle that what is illegal offline should be illegal online."

DSA in action

Once the legislation is formally approved by DSA co-legislators, the law will apply across the EU either 15 months after its enactment or on January 1, 2024 — whichever date is later.

"This is a step in the right direction — while businesses and consumers benefit from these large platforms, it is important to keep their power in check. Archaic laws of the U.S. set in the late nineties are not relevant in 2022," said Mandar Shinde, data privacy expert and CEO of Blotout.

EU Parliament member Alexandra Green has already spoken about the legislation with representatives from India and Japan, the New York Times reported. According to Shinde, however, adoption could take longer in the United States.

"Steps can be taken to hold [online services] accountable like this new legislation passed by the EU, but the United States is slow to make progress on this front. The Digital Services Act ensures consumers and businesses benefit while being protected, even if at the cost of shareholders — which has really been the only focus for these companies."