Written answers

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Legislative Measures

Photo of Pearse DohertyPearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
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190. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the provisions of the Digital Services Act with respect to online platforms which platform fraudulent advertising on their channels, the requirements, obligations and sanctions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5899/24]

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
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The Digital Services Act (DSA) is an EU Regulation that introduces new obligations on providers of online intermediary services, which include online marketplaces and social media platforms. It is designed to improve online safety in a variety of ways, such as improving transparency of services, giving users more control over how they receive those services, addressing risk and requiring mitigations, and making it more likely that illegal content online, which may include fraudulent advertising, will be found and removed.

The DSA covers any type of advertising, from digital marketing to issues-based advertising and political advertising.

The DSA does not define what illegal content is, this is set out in other national and European Laws.

However, the DSA places an obligation on providers of hosting services to put in place notice mechanisms that allow users to notify them of the presence on their service of specific items of information that the user considers to be illegal content.

The provider is obliged to review the notice and make their decision, in a timely, diligent, non-arbitrary and objective manner. in respect of the information to which the notices relate.

Depending on the decision made by the provider it may remove or restrict the content if it is illegal. This may involve any of the following:

  • Removal of the content, disabling access to the content, demoting the content.
  • Suspension, termination or other restriction of monetary payments.
  • Suspension or termination of the provision of the service in whole or in part.
  • Suspension or termination of the recipient of the service's account who posted the content.
  • Once the provider becomes aware of the presence of illegal content on its service, then the provider becomes liable for the illegal content unless it acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to this content.
  • Furthermore, online platform providers are obliged under the DSA to provide a complaints mechanism through which users can contest the decisions taken by a provider with respect to a notice submitted.
  • Users will also have the option to achieve resolution of a disputed decision through an out-of-court dispute settlement body or seek redress before the Courts.
  • The Digital Services Co-ordinator, which for Ireland will be Coimsiún na Mean, will have powers to investigate providers in instances where they suspect they have not adhered to the aforementioned obligations. Coimisiún na Meán will also have powers to impose administrative sanctions up to a max of 6% of the providers turnover if they find that the provider has contravened any of these DSA obligations.
  • If the contravention is not ended by the provider, then Coimisiún na Meán will issue further notices seeking that the provider comply with their obligations under the DSA. Where the contravention relates to illegal content that has not been moderated by the provider, then this may result in Coimisiún na Meán seeking an order via the Courts to have the content blocked.
  • Furthermore, if during such an investigation Coimisiún na Meán considers that the suspected illegal content poses a risk of serious harm, then they may impose an order on the provider to take immediate measures to address the issue prior to the investigation being completed. Failure by the providers to comply with such measures may also result in an administrative financial sanction of up to a maximum of 6% of the providers turnover being imposed by Coimisiún na Meán on the provider.
  • Thus, the DSA will have the effect that where fraudulent advertisements are presented on platform services and these advertisements are deemed illegal under national or EU laws, providers must remove them or face severe financial consequences.


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