Digital Services Act: supervision of online services

Published by:
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Does your company offer an intermediary online service, such as an online platform, online marketplace, or social media network? Then your service must comply with the rules of the European Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA provides 1 set of regulations for many types of intermediary online services. This makes the rules clearer for both the service provider and its users.

What is an intermediary online service?

You are a provider of an intermediary online service if your online service stores or transmits data to other parties at the user's request. The DSA defines different types of intermediary online services:

  • mere conduit services: give users access to the internet and offer the possibility to send and receive data without the service storing these themselves. For example, internet service providers (ISPs), virtual private network providers (VPN), and VoIP calling services
  • caching services: allow users to communicate online and store user information in the process (for instance by uing cookies)
  • online search engines: help users search for information the internet
  • hosting services: store data at the user's request, such as web hosting, image or video hosting services, or social media networks
  • online platforms: hosting services that store and actively spread information at the user's request, such as business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplaces, social media networks and app stores
  • B2C online marketplaces: online platforms where businesses and consumers can conclude a contract remotely

A service may fit within more than 1 category, based on the different functions of the service. Intermediary online services must follow the rules of the categories.

Rules for intermediary online services

The DSA's rules differ for each category of intermediary online service. The rules for providing online services aim to achieve the 4 main goals of the DSA in the Netherlands:

  • tackling illegal content
  • protecting minors
  • allowing users to object
  • reliable B2C marketplaces

The European Commission monitors compliance by very large platforms and search engines. The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) and the Dutch DPA (AP) supervise intermediary services based in the Netherlands.

Mandatory contact options

The provider of an online brokering service must offer a means of direct communication with the local authorities of European member states (the ACM and AP in the Netherlands), the European Commission, and the Digital Services Council. In addition, they must have another means of communication which allows users to object to your decisions or rulings.

Services outside the EU

Are you a provider of an intermediary online service which is accessible in the EU, but you are not established in the EU? You must appoint a legal representative an EU member state. If you do so in the Netherlands, your intermediary service will fall under the Dutch implementation of the DSA (in Dutch). You must share your legal representative’s contact details with the ACM.

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