Agius Saliba report demands online platforms identify and stop illegal content from being sold on their site

Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba pens report that requests EU legal framework for digital services be updated to reflect today’s online realities

Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba
Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba

A report by the EU’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee has demanded platforms be required to check up on and stop fraudulent companies using their services to sell illegal and unsafe products.

The report penned by Maltese MEP Alex Agius Saliba called on the European Commission to address shortcomings in regulation surrounding digital services.

The legislative initiative report approved in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament, MEPs requested the commission address and tackle current shortcomings in the online environment in its upcoming reform of the Digital Services Act, which is to be presented by the end of the year.

The committee recommendations cover a range of issues related to privacy, transparency, online product safety and effective enforcement measures.

“The report we voted on today recognises that a unique holistic, common approach built on trust, choice, and a high level of protection fully integrating users', consumers', and SMEs' concerns is needed,” Internal Market Committee rapporteur on the DSA, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba said.

Among the key demands, MEPs are requesting the EU legal framework for digital services, the e-commerce directive adopted 20 years ago, be updated.

They insisted a one size fits all approach should not be adopted, with the committee insisting economic and non-economic activities be distinguished from one another.

A key demand being presented is that of illegal, counterfeit and unsafe products, with the report stating customers should be equally safe when shopping online or in stores.

Platforms and online services will be obliged to improve their efforts in identifying and taking down false claims and rogue traders.

“Consumers should also be promptly informed by online marketplaces once a non-compliant product they have purchased has been removed from their site,” Agius said.

An effective and legally enforceable notice-and-action mechanism should also be setup, so that users can notify online intermediaries about potentially illegal online content or activities.

Platforms will be required to identify and stop fraudulent companies from using their services to sell illegal and unsafe products and content.

“Such a measure will help address one part of the problem with disinformation, misleading, or illegal content, and the sale of unsafe and fake products online,” Agius Saliba said.

On online advertising and personalised pricing, MEPs want additional regulation on targeted advertising and micro-targeting.

“The commission should consider regulating micro- and behavioural targeted advertising more strictly in favour of less intrusive forms of advertising that do not require extensive tracking of user interaction with content,” Agius Saliba said.

The vote in plenary is expected to take place during the 19-22 October plenary session.

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