European Parliament’s Digital Services Act provisions welcomed by EL

The European Parliament has adopted a negotiating position on the provisions of the Digital Services Act (DSA), a development welcomed by the European Lotteries (EL) for enhancing consumer protection and measures against illegal online gambling. 

Coming to a decision, MEPs approved the provisions by 530 votes to 78, with 80 abstentions, with the legislation now moving onto the ‘trilogues’ stage, which will see negotiations between the Parliament, European Commission and Council of Europe

First proposed by the European Commission in December 2020, the DSA has drafted the objective of creating a safer digital space accommodating protection of digital rights to tackle illegal products, services and content – such as black market online gambling – and enhance the transparency of algorithms and manage content moderation. 

The provisions introduced by the Parliament this week are numerous, including greater transparency and informed choice on the recipients of digital services; a prohibition of targeting or amplification techniques involving the data of minors for displaying advertising. 

A similar ban on use of special data categories which allow for the targeting of vulnerable groups has also been incorporated into the legislation. Lastly, recipients of digital services and organisations representing them must be able to seek redress for any possible damages resulting from platforms neglecting due diligence requirements. 

‘‘EL Members strongly believe in a high level of consumer protection and are fully committed to the fight against illegal online gambling,” said Arjan van ‘t Veer, EL Secretary General. 

“The DSA foresees a number of new provisions that could be beneficial to this end. EL hopes that these will be at the disposal of its Members, most notably an improved notice-and-action mechanism, the concept of trusted flaggers and enhanced consumer protection and know-your-business-customer requirements.”

Member States of the Council adopted their general approach to the DSA in November of last year, whilst the EL has consistently provided input on the development of the legislation with regards to the betting and gaming industry. 

Last October, the organisation called on the Parliament to exclude explicit mentions of online betting services, arguing that references to online gambling within the context of freedom of establishment was inaccurate.

The EL asserted at the time that discussions of gambling within the context of the DSA ‘implies that national regulations on illegal content in the gambling sector are often not in compliance with EU law.’

Joining the EL in attempting to influence the development of the DSA, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) backed a joint letter in November – along with trade bodies representing start-ups, SMEs, technology, advertising, digital, and media organisations – urging legislators to maintain the DSA’s “horizontal approach proposed by the European Commission”.

Trade associations such as the EGBA and EL have repeatedly asserted that the DSA must be consistent with the EU’s existing legal framework on online business laws related to data, consumer protections and platform laws.

Offering assurances to the European gambling industry, the Commission underlined that the DSA would not contradict the e-Commerce Directive, which does exclude online gambling services from the legislature.

Following latest developments, the European stakeholders appear satisfied with the scope of the act, with van ‘t Veer adding: “Today EL welcomes the support by MEPs, in particular by Rapporteur Christel Schaldemose to improve the European Commission’s proposal to create a safer digital space for everyone. This marks a milestone update in the regulation of Internet in the EU.’’

Also, although maintaining its assertions throughout the legislative lifespan of the DSA regarding gambling and the context of the DSA, EGBA has remained welcoming of the proposals.

Speaking at the time of the announcement of the Act, Maarten Hajier, EGBA Secretary General, remarked: “We welcome the Commission’s Digital Services Act, and hope this will be the beginning of renewed efforts by the Commission to address many of the regulatory challenges which impact on companies and consumers who buy and sell services in the digital space.

“One of the challenges we see in Europe’s online gambling sector is the need for more consistent regulations in the EU, particularly in respect to customer protection, and the Commission needs to step up to address the current fragmentation.”

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