The Digital Services Act (DSA) is an EU regulation which came into force in EU law in November 2022 and is directly applicable across the EU. This regulation applies in full across all EU Member States from 17 February 2024.
This regulation aims to contribute to the proper functioning of the EU’s internal market for online intermediary services by setting out harmonised rules for a safe, predictable and trusted online environment that facilitates innovation and in which fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the principle of consumer protection, are effectively protected.
The DSA is designed to provide greater online safety. Organisations for which the DSA applies are required to:
- provide greater transparency on their services
- adopt procedures for handling take down notices, informing users in certain circumstances and addressing complaints
- refrain from certain practices, such as profiling, and/or improve control for users of their service
While as an EU Regulation it has direct legal effect in EU Member States and consequently its provisions and obligations apply directly to online Intermediary Services Providers (ISPs), it was necessary to have national legislation to implement those provisions of the EU Regulation that provide for the supervision and enforcement of those obligations.
The Digital Services Act 2024 (PDF, 768KB) fulfils Ireland’s obligations in this regard and was signed into law by the President in February 2024.
The Act designates Coimisiún na Meán as the Digital Services Coordinator and lead competent authority for the Digital Services Act. It also designates the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as a competent authority, with specific responsibility for online marketplaces.
Each member state designates a competent authority as their Digital Services Coordinator (DSC).
For Ireland, the DSC is Comisiún na Meán (Media Commission), and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is a competent authority for articles related to online marketplaces.
The Digital Services Act 2024:
- Designated Comisiún na Meán as the DSC and invested it with the necessary powers to carry out its functions under the Regulation including powers of investigation, powers to impose fines, the power to issue compliance notices and orders to end infringements.
- Provides Coimisiún na Mean with powers to award trusted flagger status, vetting researchers and certifying out-of-court dispute settlement bodies, and make it responsible for handling all complaints relating to the DSA in Ireland.
- Designated the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to be the competent authority with specific responsibility for Articles 30,31 and 32 of the Digital Services Regulation which relate to online marketplaces and invested it with the necessary powers to carry out its functions under the regulation. These include powers of investigation, powers to impose fines, the power to issue compliance notices and orders to end infringements.
Contact details for Coimisiún na Meán
Coimisiún na Meán,
1 Shelbourne Buildings Shelbourne Road,
Tel:+ 353 (0)1 644 1200
Contact details for the CCPC
Competition and Consumer Protection Commission,
Tel: +353 (0)1 402 5500
Consumer helpline: 01 402 5555
Enforcement of Very Large Online Platforms and Search Engines
The DSA is based on the country-of-origin principle, so member states have powers to supervise and enforce the DSA in relation to ISPs which have their main establishment in that member state, or in the member state in which their legal representative resides except:
- the European Commission shall have powers to supervise and enforce the DSA in relation to online platforms and online search engines which are designated as VLOPs or VLOSEs
- where the European Commission has not initiated proceedings for the same infringement, the member state in which the main establishment of the provider of a VLOPs or VLOSE is located shall have powers to supervise and enforce obligations under the DSA, with respect to those providers
Where an ISP provides services in the EU that fall under the DSA but does not have a main establishment in the EU and has failed to designate a legal representative, all member states and in case of a provider of a VLOP or VLOSE, the European Commission, shall have powers to supervise and enforce the DSA.
Organisations that the DSA applies to
The DSA applies to organisations that provide online intermediary services in the EU, where intermediary services means one of the following information society services:
- A ‘mere conduit’ service, consisting of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, or the provision of access to a communication network. Examples: internet service providers, direct messaging services, virtual private networks, domain name systems, voice over IP, top level domain name registries.
- A ‘caching’ service, consisting of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, involving the automatic, intermediate and temporary storage of that information, performed for the sole purpose of making onward transmission more efficient to other recipients upon their request. Examples: content delivery networks, content adaptation proxies or reverse proxies.
- A ‘hosting’ service, consisting of the storage of information provided by, and at the request of, a recipient of the service. Examples: cloud service providers, online marketplaces, social media, app stores, travel and accommodation platforms.
The rules of the DSA apply to all Intermediary Service Providers (ISPs) offering their services in the European Single Market, whether they are established in the EU or outside.
Further information and queries
Further information on the DSA can be found on Questions and Answers: Digital Services Act and Digital Services Act package.
The Irish Digital Services Coordinator is Coimisiún na Meán.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is a competent authority for online marketplaces.