The Digital Service Act (DSA) is a European regulation amending the June, 8th 2000 Directive on electronic commerce (Directive 2000/31/EC). Its goal is to modernize and harmonize national legislation within the internal market in response to the risks and challenges of digital transformation.
The DSA applies to a large range of digital services such as : social media platforms, online marketplaces, and search engines. The idea behind the DSA is to create a framework for accountability, transparency, and public oversight. It will hold online platforms responsible for the moderation of illegal and harmful content. The DSA imposes stricter rules on larger platforms with societal impact, known as Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs).
In this article we will describe the three DSA Tools that will help you comply more efficiently with the DSA.
DSA Tool #1 : One-click generated Transparency reports
Transparency report : definition and obligations
Under the DSA, digital service providers now have to be transparent about their services, policies, and practices. They must provide clear information about their terms and conditions, content moderation policies, and any measures taken to address illegal content or harmful behavior. Businesses must also have mechanisms in place to report illegal content and provide users with accessible points of contact for communication.
This DSA feature will help digital service providers to create detailed transparency reports with a single click, offering regulators, users, and other stakeholders quick and easy access to information. This innovation simplifies the reporting process but also reinforces the principles of accountability and openness outlined in the DSA. The One-click Transparency Reports feature ensures that digital service providers can efficiently communicate their complying to legal and ethical standards.
Transparency reports take forms as well defined documents and they require lots of aggregate information about the providers operations. The yearly publication of these reports are now a mandatory requirement in the EU.
The challenge with these reports is to find the right data for them, it can take months to obtain it. It requires a precise recording of all the moderation decisions a provider enforced during the year.
What does the DSA say about Transparency Reports?
The DSA explains the new requirement for transparency report in the Article 49 quoted below :
“To ensure an adequate level of transparency and accountability, providers of intermediary services should make publicly available an annual report in a machine-readable format, in accordance with the harmonised requirements contained in this Regulation, on the content moderation in which they engage, including the measures taken as a result of the application and enforcement of their terms and conditions. However, in order to avoid disproportionate burdens, those transparency reporting obligations should not apply to providers that are micro or small enterprises as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC (25) and which are not very large online platforms within the meaning of this Regulation.”
Generating DSA Transparency Reports
What can a generated DSA transparency report help you with
- Compliance: The report helps digital service providers show compliance with the DSA regulations.
- User Trust: Transparency reports contribute to building and maintaining user trust by showing them openly your moderations policies.
- Accountability: The report is an accountability tool because it holds the digital service providers responsible for their actions. It give the stakeholders a way to assess if the platform is compliant with the DSA obligations.
- Improved Communication: The reports facilitates communication between digital service providers and their user base. Users can see how the platforms uses their data, moderate the content and uses measures to protect their platforms.
- Risk Mitigation: The generated report can help identify potential risks and areas where the platform can improve. It will also help keep the platform safe for users and compliant with the rules.
- Legal Protection: Transparency report can be a valuable legal document in case of legal disputes or investigations. It provides a detailed account of the platform’s practices and can be used to support its position in legal proceedings.
- Industry Reputation: Transparent disclosure of practices and adherence to regulations can positively impact the overall reputation of providers. It show commitment to responsible and ethical business practices.
Checkstep’s solution for Transparency Reports
As we’ve seen, yearly mandatory Transparency Reports require a precise recording of all moderation decisions you enforced during the year.
We created Checkstep’s DSA Plugin to help you centrally manage all the relevant data and generate a Transparency report for your European users instantly. You can easily export, edit the report, add context, explanations and publish it on their website or in the dedicated space in the Transparency Hub.
DSA Tool #2 : Easy notice and action management
Notice and Action : definition and obligations
The Notice and Action feature of the DSA helps creating a streamlined process for users, authorities, or third-party entities to notify digital service providers about potentially illegal or harmful content on their platforms.
After receiving a notice, the providers are required to take quick and appropriate action such as : content removal, restriction or address the reported issue. This features helps providers to find a balance between freedom of expression and avoiding harmful content on their platforms.
This features gives a protocol for these situation and it goes like this:
- Handling notification
- Responding rapidly to the users or authorities concerns
This approach goes two ways, first it involves the users into the process. Second, it holds accountable the providers to make sure they hold a safe online environnement.
What does the DSA say about Notice and Action?
The DSA explains the new requirement for notice and action management in the Article 50 quoted below:
“Providers of hosting services play a particularly important role in tackling illegal content online, as they store information provided by and at the request of the recipients of the service and typically give other recipients access thereto, sometimes on a large scale. It is important that all providers of hosting services, regardless of their size, put in place easily accessible and user-friendly notice and action mechanisms that facilitate the notification of specific items of information that the notifying party considers to be illegal content to the provider of hosting services concerned (‘notice’), pursuant to which that provider can decide whether or not it agrees with that assessment and wishes to remove or disable access to that content (‘action’).
Such mechanisms should be clearly identifiable, located close to the information in question and at least as easy to find and use as notification mechanisms for content that violates the terms and conditions of the hosting service provider. Provided the requirements on notices are met, it should be possible for individuals or entities to notify multiple specific items of allegedly illegal content through a single notice in order to ensure the effective operation of notice and action mechanisms.
The notification mechanism should allow, but not require, the identification of the individual or the entity submitting a notice. For some types of items of information notified, the identity of the individual or the entity submitting a notice might be necessary to determine whether the information in question constitutes illegal content, as alleged. The obligation to put in place notice and action mechanisms should apply, for instance, to file storage and sharing services, web hosting services, advertising servers and paste bins, in so far as they qualify as hosting services covered by this Regulation.”
The DSA Notice and Action Management Tool
What can a notice and action management tool help you with
- Efficient Content Moderation: The feature streamlines the process of addressing illegal or harmful content reported by users or third parties.
- User Empowerment: Notice and Action empowers users to play an active role in identifying and reporting objectionable content.
- Legal Compliance: Digital service providers show their commitment to legal compliance by complying with the DSA’s Notice and Action requirements.
- Transparency and Accountability: The Notice and Action management feature forces transparency in content moderation processes. Therefore, users can understand how their reports are handled, and digital service providers can demonstrate accountability by following DSA procedures.
- Timely Response: The feature helps a rapid response to reported content minimizing the impact of harmful content.
- Risk Mitigation: The rapidity of action allows to limit the risks associated with legal challenges, reputational damage, and user dissatisfaction.
- Facilitation of Dialogue: Notice and Action encourages open communication between users and digital service providers.
- Prevention of Content Abuse: The feature demonstrates that violations are taken seriously by the provider and will be dealt with quickly.
With the Notice et Action Management feature, governments agencies and civic organisations called Trusted Flaggers, such as child protection agencies, have the right to send requests to your platform, to act against imminent threats to people or organisations, or ask for clarifications. You need to inform them about the actions and decisions you took following their request.
The challenge of this feature is that setting up a dedicated monitoring and workflow system takes time and. It requires lots of iteration between your engineering and legal department to make sure Notice and Actions are properly implemented.
Checkstep’s Solution for Notice and Action processes
With volumes of data adding up, it gets harder to manage and respond to notices about all potentiall harmful content.
A tool like Checkstep DSA plugin, can help you streamline the process of reviewing notices, taking appropriate actions, and documenting these steps.
This way, you can effortlessly meet DSA’s notice and action requirements, ensuring quick and compliant responses to external requests!
DSA Tool #3 : Accurate and thorough risk assessment
Risk assessments : definition and obligation
The Accurate and Thorough Risk Assessment feature within the Digital Services Act (DSA) represents a mechanism for digital service providers to evaluate and mitigate potential risks associated with their online platforms.
This feature require a systematic process of :
- identifying the risks
- analyzing the risks
- understanding the risks related to
- content moderation
- user data protection
- compliance with regulatory standards.
With advanced algorithms and comprehensive analysis tools, providers can assess the impact of their operations on users, society and legal frameworks.
Beside identifying vulnerabilities, this feature enables providers to take proactive mesures and make sure they are being implemented. Therefore, risk assessment is necessary to maintain a secure environment and respect the law.
What does the DSA say about Risk Assessments?
The DSA explains the new requirement for accurate and thorough risk assessments in the Article 79 quoted below :
“Very large online platforms and very large online search engines can be used in a way that strongly influences safety online, the shaping of public opinion and discourse, as well as online trade. The way they design their services is generally optimised to benefit their often advertising-driven business models and can cause societal concerns.
Effective regulation and enforcement is necessary in order to effectively identify and mitigate the risks and the societal and economic harm that may arise. Under this Regulation, providers of very large online platforms and of very large online search engines should therefore assess the systemic risks stemming from the design, functioning and use of their services, as well as from potential misuses by the recipients of the service, and should take appropriate mitigating measures in observance of fundamental rights. In determining the significance of potential negative effects and impacts, providers should consider the severity of the potential impact and the probability of all such systemic risks. For example, they could assess whether the potential negative impact can affect a large number of persons, its potential irreversibility, or how difficult it is to remedy and restore the situation prevailing prior to the potential impact.”
The DSA Risk assessment tool
What can a risk assessment tool help you with
- Proactive Risk Management: By conducting accurate and thorough risk assessments, digital service providers can proactively identify potential issues before they escalate.
- Legal Compliance: The feature helps digital service providers to ensure compliance with the DSA regulatory standards.
- Enhanced User Protection: Accurate risk assessments contribute to the identifying and mitigating of potential threats to user safety.
- Trust Building: Demonstrating a commitment to accurate and thorough risk assessment builds trust with users, regulatory authorities, and other stakeholders.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: The feature helps optimize resource allocation by directing efforts towards areas of higher risk.
- Reputation Management: Accurate risk assessment contributes to maintaining a positive reputation for the digital service provider.
- Incident Response Improvement: The insights gained from thorough risk assessments allows digital service providers to refine and improve their incident response plans.
- Business Continuity: By identifying and mitigating risks, digital service providers enhance their overall business continuity.
Identifying potential risks in User-Generated-Content is crucial for maintaining your platform integrity and user safety. With evolving regulatory standards and diverse user interactions, you need to proactively assess and mitigate risks.
You might struggle to effectively identify and evaluate risks due to the vast and varied nature of user-generated content. This challenge is compounded by the need to stay compliant with ever-changing online safety regulations. Preemptively identifying potential issues is difficult, leading to reactive rather than proactive management.
Checkstep’s solution to conduct easy Risks Assessments
It is particularly time consuming to systematically identify potential risks, from subtle policy violations to overt harmful content.
By leveraging advanced analytics and AI-driven insights, we created a tool with Checkstep which helps in pinpointing areas of concern before they escalate.
In such, you will stay ahead of regulatory concerns and user safety issues. In the event of an audit, you will confidently justify your content management strategies, showcasing your dedication to creating a safe online environment. This foresight not only protects your platform’s reputation but also enhances your user trust and loyalty.
The Digital Services Act (DSA) introduces key features that contribute to making compliance more manageable for digital service providers. The One-click generated Transparency Reports feature facilitates the reporting process, promoting openness and accountability. The Notice and Action feature establishes a systematic approach for addressing reported content, reinforcing user engagement and legal compliance. The Accurate and Thorough Risk Assessment feature allows proactive identification and mitigation of potential risks, ensuring a secure online environment.
Together, these features provide a comprehensive framework that facilitates compliance with standards and allow more transparency, user trust, and proactive risk management in the digital service landscape.
The compliance with the DSA is becoming mandatory soon and to help the digital service providers to achieve it, Checkstep has implement an plugin that allows an all in one DSA compliant solution.
the Digital Services Act (DSA) is proposed European Union legislation aimed at regulating digital services to address issues like online content moderation, disinformation, and user protection. For the latest information, please check recent sources.
DSA transparency reports are documents produced by digital service providers to disclose information about their content moderation practices, user data handling, and compliance with regulations outlined in the Digital Services Act.
Notice and Action obligations under the Digital Services Act (DSA) require digital service providers to establish a process for users, authorities, or third parties to notify them about potentially illegal or harmful content. Therefore, after receiving a notice, providers must take prompt and appropriate action, such as content removal or restriction, to address reported issues and ensure compliance with DSA regulations.
Risk assessments under the Digital Services Act (DSA) involve a systematic evaluation by digital service providers to identify and mitigate potential risks associated with their online platforms. This includes analyzing risks related to content moderation, user data protection, and compliance with regulatory standards outlined in the DSA.