Digital Services Act: Does Greater Power Require Greater Additional Regulation?

On Tuesday 15th  September, the European Policy Centre hosted a webinar, discussing the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the question of “Does Power Require Greater Additional Regulation”. MEP Alex Agius Saliva took the opportunity to detail how his report the “Digital Services Act: Improving the functioning of the Single Market”, addressed this fundamental question.

Mr. Saliba explained that todays world has become an increasingly digitalized one, a fact that had been compounded by the Covid-19 crisis. However, this recent meteoric growth of tech giants and platforms has caused concern regarding market dominance and widening of the information gap between platforms and users.

Saliba analysed the role the e-commerce directive has played in the past 20 years and how this might change with the introduction of the DSA. In particular, Saliba highlighted the change that has overcome the platform economy, “Google, Amazon were in their infancies when the e-commerce directive was introduced, and many any intermediaries were non-existent. Over the last 20 years business models and power dynamics have changed.”

In light of the developments mentioned above, Saliba suggests that a European solution is required to bring balance to the digital landscape, as well as this Europe has the potential to become a leading digital player. Saliba, asserted his position, saying “We need to regulate big platforms, and I fully support the Commission’s intention to introduce a targeted ex-ante regulation to target systemic issues specific to digital markets as well as also a tool to prevent market tipping”.  His report tries to address these issues suggesting reducing barriers to entry and suggesting implementing clear economic indicators to allow regulatory authorities to identify platforms which enjoy significant market positions, and which hold gate keeper roles. Saliba also believes that any ex-ante rules should be built on the platform to business regulation (P2B). The report suggests analysing the profit-making models of global tech giants and that it is time to ask about anti-competitive practices, content moderation and mass harvesting of consumer data which is diluting consumer confidence.

This report was recently voted upon and approved by the European Parliament.