Progress in implementation of the Digital Services Act: Government proposes an act on the supervision of online intermediary services
On 12 October 2023, the Government submitted to Parliament a government proposal for the national implementation of the EU Digital Services Act which aims to improve the transparency and safety of online intermediary services for users.
The Digital Services Act seeks to protect users from illegal content online and ensure their fundamental rights. The Act defines clear obligations and responsibilities for intermediaries. It applies to internet access providers, cloud services and online platforms, such as social media services, online marketplaces and internet search engines.
The current provisions of the Finnish Act on Electronic Communication Services on exempting intermediaries from liability will be repealed and replaced by the provisions of the Digital Services Act.
Online platforms need to become more transparent
The Act will require online platforms to be more transparent, for example concerning their content recommendation and moderation. In future, users of online platforms will have the right to obtain information about the advertising they see.
The Act will create uniform procedures across the EU for dealing with illegal content in intermediary services. The accountability of service providers for illegal content will also increase. The Act will impose more extensive obligations on very large online platforms and search engines with over 45 million users in the EU.
Guidance and advice at the core of supervision
As an EU regulation, the Digital Services Act is directly applicable legislation. In Finland, its implementation requires the establishment of supervisory authorities and new regulation on powers and sanctions.
The Government proposes that the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom become the authority for digital services coordination and the main supervisory authority for the Act. The other supervisory authorities would be the Consumer Ombudsman and the Data Protection Ombudsman. However, very large online platforms will be supervised by the European Commission.
The national supervisory authorities would also be given powers, such as the right to carry out inspections and obtain information necessary for supervision. Penalty payments could be imposed for violating the Act. However, the main focus of the supervision would be on guidance and advice, as the regulation contains new kinds of legislation on intermediary services.
With regard to imposing large penalty payments of over EUR 100,000, the proposal includes a new procedure for Traficom, where the decision would be made by a new collegiate body instead of an individual public official.
A referral debate will be held on the proposal now submitted by the Government to Parliament. The timetable for the debate will be listed on Parliament’s website (upcoming plenary sessions).
After the referral debate, the proposal will be taken to a Parliamentary Committee. Once the Committee’s report is ready, the matter will be discussed in a plenary session.
The proposed acts are scheduled to enter into force on 17 February 2024 when the application of the EU Act begins.
Kreetta Simola, Senior Ministerial Adviser (from 23 October onwards), tel. +358 295 342 609, kreetta.simola(at)gov.fi
Roosa Patrakka, Senior Officer, tel. +358 295 342 192, roosa.patrakka(at)gov.fi
Hanna Laurila, Senior Ministerial Adviser (Traficom’s collegiate body for sanctions), tel. +358 295 342 025, hanna.laurila(at)gov.fi