European Parliament seeks changes under the Digital Services Act

The European Commission’s Digital Services Act (DSA) has garnered much attention within the European Parliament with three reports across three committees currently in the drafting process. As the world turns to digital to aid our way through the corona virus crisis this has compounded the interest and desire to see concrete improvements and progress relating to the DSA.

One report directly linking the impact of the corona virus pandemic and digital advertising is MEP Alex Agius Saliba’s report for the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). Under a new principle of “Transparency and Consumer Protection” the report states that the corona virus pandemic has highlighted misleading trading practices, the sale of fake/illegal products online, sale of products or services not compliant with EU standards, or unjustified and abusive prices or conditions imposed on consumers. Owing to this rapporteur Saliba advises that the existing obligations currently set out under the E-commerce Directive on transparency of commercial communications and digital advertising should be strengthened. Furthermore, Saliba specifies in the report that the pressing consumer concerns regarding profiling, targeting and personalised pricing cannot be addressed though transparency obligations within the E-Commerce Directive and can also not be left to consumer choice alone.

MEP Tiemo Wolken’s draft report for the JURI committee which looks at “adapting commercial and civil law rules for commercial entities operating online”, also mentions advertising practices. Wolken’s report suggests strict conditions should be imposed to limit the use of the data collected by platforms based on consumer interactions, for the purpose of completing targeted advertising platforms and that users of content hosting platforms should be given the choice to opt in or out of receiving targeted advertisements. Finally, the report also suggests that platforms should create an archive of sponsored advertisements that were shown to their users, including the following information such as timespan of the advert, reach of the advert and information on the target audience.

In other news relating to the Digital Services Act, the Commission has launched a public consultation on Artificial Intelligence. The public is invited to share their views on the Commissions White Paper on AI until June 14.