As the Digital Markets Act comes into force and the Digital Services Act gets the green light, is your business ready for these radical reforms of the digital space?

My colleague Mary Traynor created this summary and a useful guide to both of these new EU rules, that will impact UK businesses and businesses around the world.

Why do these changes matter?

The importance and pervasiveness of digital services has risen exponentially over the last few years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been a number of important developments in the digital regulation space over recent weeks as the EU introduces its eagerly-awaited Digital Services Act package (incorporating the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act).

The DMA and DSA will radically reform the legal duties and responsibilities of digital service providers in the EU, and those outside the EU who target EU users.  

Digital Markets Act

Businesses operating in the digital space and beyond will be impacted by this ambitious and far-reaching new regulatory framework, which imposes a range of obligations on different digital providers, depending on the nature of their services and the size of their user base.

It will regulate the business conduct of so-called digital gatekeepers – the providers of the core platform services on which businesses depend to reach their customers.  These include services such as online intermediation services, search engines, video-sharing platforms, web browsers, operating systems, online advertising services and digital assistants.

Separately, the UK has updated its approach to the regulation of digital services with the establishment of a specialist pro-competition digital platforms regulator, the Digital Markets Unit (DMU). The DMU will oversee the establishment of a new regime in the UK to regulate the most powerful digital platforms, promote greater competition and innovation in the sector and to protect consumers and businesses from unfair practices.

Although the EU and the UK have taken different approaches to the regulation of digital services, they have a common aim - establishing an effective framework for the regulation of current and emerging digital services and markets.

The DMA will enter into force on 1 November 2022. You can find out more about the DMA here.

Digital Services Act

On 4 October 2022, the European Council approved the European Commission’s proposals on the DSA. The DSA fundamentally redesigns the rules for offering online content, services and products to consumers in the EU. Whilst it will hit big tech the hardest, it will impact many businesses in the digital space (either directly or indirectly). The majority of obligations in the DSA are expected to come into force in Q2 of 2024. However, the rules applicable to very large platforms and service engines may enter into force sooner, possibly as early as mid 2023.

Brexit has led to parallel but contrasting key domestic proposals in the form of the UK’s Online Safety Bill (OSB) which seeks to regulate certain internet services with the key aim of tackling illegal and harmful online content. The OSB touches on aspects of the DSA. It remains to be seen whether the UK will seek to address the wider aspects, if and when the OSB makes it through Parliament.

You can find out more about the DSA here.

Horizon scanning

Watch this space for further LS articles on the Digital Markets Act (EU), Digital Services Act (EU), Online Safety Bill (UK) and other important developments as they progress through their respective legislative processes.  

In the meantime, if you would like a copy of our Horizon Scanner - Online Regulation, please get in touch.