The European Commission has today officially designated the first 19 online services as “very large online platforms and search engines” (VLOPs and VLOSEs), under the Digital Services Act regulation. They will have four months to comply with many of the obligations set out in the regulation pertaining to VLOP/SEs, which include performing a risk assessment of their services, providing an alternative recommender system not based on user-profiling, and putting in place a public ad library.
Designation of these 19 services is an important step, but it’s not time to sit back. In fact, we’re seeing some of these companies take steps to reduce transparency.
Claire Pershan, EU Advocacy Lead, Mozilla
Mozilla has been involved in the development of this regulation since the arrival of the first proposal in July of 2020. We identified the DSA back then as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to build a better internet. Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker wrote to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sharing our goals for the DSA. Since then, we have stayed engaged through the negotiation, passage, and now through the critical implementation phase to ensure this vision is achieved. For years, Mozilla and our supporters have been calling out problems with the tech industry, like the harms of YouTube’s recommendation algorithm or political influence on TikTok, and providing ideas for improvement and trustworthy alternatives.
Designation of these 19 services is an important step, but it’s not time to sit back. In fact, we’re seeing some of these companies take steps to reduce transparency, such as with Twitter’s decision to remove free access to its Application Programming Interface (API), shutting out scrutiny of its impact on society.
The European Union today officially starts the clock for these designated platforms to make real changes to their services, increasing their transparency and accountability, improving their user experiences, and empowering researchers and wider civil society to continue to investigate harms and propose solutions. Implementation, by the regulator and by these companies, will not be a cakewalk. As the Commission continues its work on secondary legislation, such as that related to third-party auditing and access to data, Mozilla will continue to lend its expertise to ensure that the DSA lives up to its ambitions.