To help market participants prepare for the DSA, the ACM has prepared draft DSA Guidelines to digital services due diligence obligations (DSA Leidraad Zorgvuldigheidsverplichtingen digitale diensten) (the Guidelines). The Guidelines, being a highly comprehensive document, are currently undergoing a consultation procedure, with a deadline for submissions being today, the February 16, 2024.

ACM Guidelines: A Breakdown

The ACM’s initiative to create these Guidelines stems from the complexity and novelty of the DSA and obligations it encompasses. Given the extensive and layered nature of the DSA's obligations, the Guidelines serve as a crucial tool for clarifying the legal jargon and presenting the information in an accessible manner, especially for smaller entities that may lack dedicated legal and/or technical expertise.

  • Scope and Relevance of DSA Rules: The DSA encompasses a wide range of online services, including but not limited to online marketplaces, search engines, social media platforms, internet service providers, and web hosting services. The ACM’s Guidelines elaborate on the specific obligations each type of service has under the DSA, ensuring tailored compliance strategies.
  • Preparing for Operational Changes: The Guidelines provide a roadmap for online service providers to modify their operational practices. This includes methods to effectively detect and manage illegal content, safeguard minors online, handle user data responsibly, and ensure transparent user communication. These changes are crucial for aligning with the DSA's objectives of enhancing user safety and platform accountability.
  • Combatting 'Dark Patterns': A significant focus of the DSA is the elimination of 'dark patterns' in digital interfaces. These deceptive design strategies can manipulate users into making unintended decisions, such as subscribing to services or sharing personal data. The Guidelines offer practical advice on identifying and avoiding such practices, promoting a more user-centric online experience.
  • The Larger Context of Digital Legislation: The DSA is part of a broader suite of new EU legislation targeting various aspects of the digital economy. This legislation aims to protect consumers and businesses from unfair practices, privacy breaches, and other digital threats. The ACM’s support for this legislation reflects a commitment to fostering a digital ecosystem that is secure, fair, and beneficial for all.
  • Timeline and Enforcement: The Guidelines outline a clear timeline for DSA implementation, with full compliance required by February 17, 2024, in the Netherlands. The ACM will oversee the enforcement of these regulations for services operating within its jurisdiction. Notably, the Guidelines specify that larger platforms and search engines have been under the regulatory purview of the European Commission since August 25, 2023.
  • Additional Compliance Aspects: The Guidelines delve into various compliance aspects, such as appointing legal representatives in the EU for non-EU based service providers, handling orders from authorities, and adhering to stringent transparency reporting requirements. These include protocols for reporting illegal content, managing user complaints, and maintaining clear communication channels with regulatory bodies.
What can Loyens & Loeff do for you?

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, companies encounter numerous challenges and opportunities, both online and offline. With the implementation of the DSA, these complexities have intensified, especially regarding compliance with new regulations governing digital platforms and services. The DSA, focusing on issues like user safety, transparency, and accountability of online platforms, adds layers of complexity to the digital domain. Our team, adept in handling these nuances, provides bespoke guidance to ensure compliance with the DSA's obligations. We have a formidable track record of advising a diverse array of technology companies, ranging from prominent online platforms to innovative startups.

Our team’s approach, combining legal aspects with a deep understanding of the digital sector, ensures that our clients not only navigate the current legal landscape but are also well-prepared for emerging challenges and opportunities under the DSA legal framework. We are committed to delivering comprehensive, efficient and pragmatic solutions that align with our clients' business goals and the evolving digital environment.