2 min

Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market, says the Commission will closely watch tech companies. The EC wants to to ensure they comply with the new rules of the Digital Services Act (DSA).

Among these rules is one stipulation that companies disclose the exact number of European users they have. The European Commission (EC) requires these numbers to be able to differentiate large companies from start-ups and SMEs. By doing this it can determine to what level of severity it should enforce the DSA’s rules.

Companies with more than 45 million active monthly users will get the label “very large online platforms” or “very large online search engines”. Consequently, these companies will have four months to comply with the DSA before penalties are imposed.

“Let me be clear on this: when I say online platforms have to publish ‘user numbers’, I mean numbers, not some generic statements”, he says, highlighting the commission’s desire for specifics.

Breton goes on to say that a few online platforms have not met their obligations. Some failed to provide user numbers entirely while others simply stated that they fall short of the specified parameters.

“We have a huge responsibility to prove that our European rules work not only in theory but also in practice, bringing tangible results to our citizens”, Breton says.

His statement targeted Amazon, Apple, AliExpress and Pinterest. These companies claimed to have over 45 million European users but did not surrender the specific number. Spotify, Booking.com, eBay and OnlyFans claimed to be below the threshold to qualify as a very large online platform. These companies also withheld the exact number of users.

Despite not meeting the obligations, the commission has already released a list of nearly 20 companies that fall into the category of “very large online platforms or search engines”. Among these companies Apple, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Google stand primary.

Curtailing criminal content

Companies that meet the size criteria will be held accountable for curbing illegal content online. They must also set into place stricter moderation practices to lessen − among other things − footage of child- and woman abuse, terrorism-promoting videos and marketplace scammers.

Additionaly, the DSA laws impose bans on profiling children according to age, gender, ethnicity and political views to facilitate targeted advertising.

Also read: US government seeks to stop Google’s online advertising dominance

The EC has direct supervision and enforcement powers. It can levy fines of up to 6% of a service provider’s global turnover in case of failure to comply. The commission has more enforcement mechanisms at its disposal than fines, however. It also has the authority to require immediate action in the case of very severe missteps. It may require platforms to provide concrete commitments on how they will correct them.

Finally, rogue platforms that continue to endanger people’s lives and safety could be subjected to a temporary court suspension of their services.