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What is the EU's Digital Services Act?


The EU Digital Services Act (DSA), which has been in force since 17 February 2024, aims to prevent illegal content - in particular the exchange of illegal goods, services and content - and to safeguard the fundamental rights of users. The DSA applies to all online intermediaries and platforms in the EU, such as online marketplaces, social networks, content sharing platforms, app stores, online travel and accommodation platforms and cloud and messaging services.

The DSA also creates a new supervisory structure comprising the European Commission at EU level and the Digital Services Coordinators at national level. The Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) has been fulfilling this role since 17 February 2024 and provides detailed information on the DSA at

As part of this supervision, the DSA requires multinational platforms in particular to combat risks such as disinformation, lack of protection for young people, hate speech and fake shops. The DSA Accompanying Act (DSA-BegG) was enacted in Austria to implement the obligations arising from the DSA. The DSA-BegG also established a new arbitration centre at the Media Division of the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR Medien) for the protection of users online. This DSA-BegG also included new regulations on the right to information vis-à-vis intermediary service providers.

In addition, this DSA-BegG introduced the possibility of claiming damages for ‘hate on the internet’. In the event of significant defamation of a natural person in an electronic communications network, the user who provided the offending content must also pay compensation for the personal injury suffered. In the event of a violation of personal rights, claims for injunctive relief and removal can now also be asserted against the service provider. With the DSA-BegG, KommAustria was entrusted with granting organisations the status of trusted flaggers. These organisations safeguard user rights in certain areas such as online hate speech, cyberbullying and copyright and can submit reports to the platforms, which must then prioritise them.

First published in Horizont on 23/05/2024.