Insights European Commission launches transparency database under the Digital Services Act (“DSA”)


Hosting services, which store content provided by users of their service (e.g. cloud services), are a type of intermediary service regulated by the DSA (Regulation EU 2022/2065).  Online platforms, a type of hosting service that disseminates the content provided by the users to the public (e.g. social media platforms), are subject to further, stricter obligations under the DSA.   Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs), a type of online platform having 45 million or more average monthly active users in the EU, are subject to yet further obligations under the DSA.

Under Article 17 DSA, providers of hosting services must provide a clear and specific statement of reasons to any affected users of their service of any restrictions imposed on the user or their content on the ground that the content provided by the recipient of the service is illegal content or incompatible with their terms and conditions.  In other words, hosting service providers must provide information on their moderation decisions such as whether they will be removing content or suspending or terminating the relevant user’s account.

Further, article 24(5) of the DSA requires online platforms to submit to the European Commission, without undue delay, the statements and reasons issued under Article 17 for inclusion in a publicly available database.  This is to ensure the transparency of content moderation decisions and to monitor the prevalence of illegal content online.

On 26 September 2023, the Commission announced the launch of the database.  Only VLOPs are currently required to comply with article 24(5) now; other providers of online platforms will have to comply from 17 February 2024.

The website on which the database can be accessed offers various ways to access and analyse the data, including search functionalities and the possibility to download data.  The Commission proposes to make improvements to the database in future.  The Commission states that, together with the Transparency Centre established under the Code of Practice on Disinformation, users will have the ability to access information on illegal and harmful content online at an unprecedented scale and granularity.

For more information, click here.  To access the Transparency Database, click here.