The Irish Digital Services Act 2024 – The DSA is now fully enforceable in Ireland

The Irish legislation giving further effect to the Digital Services Act (regulation 2022/2065) (the “DSA”),  has now been enacted and is effective. The Digital Services Act 2024 (the “Irish Act”) was signed into law on 11 February 2024. The Digital Services Act (Commencement) Order was signed on 16 February, meaning the legal enforcement and implementation framework for the DSA is now fully operative in Ireland from 17 February. The Irish Act designates Coimisiún na Meán as the Digital Services Coordinator (“DSC”) for Ireland.

Rather than constituting a standalone piece of legislation, the Irish Act brings the DSA implementation and enforcement mechanism into the now somewhat unwieldy and byzantine Broadcasting Act. The Irish government policy on recent EU digital, content, and some data laws has been to house implementing national laws in this statute. 

Coimisiún na Meán also regulates broadcasting and the audiovisual sector. In addition Coimisiún na Meán is the regulator appointed to deal with online harm under the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022, an Irish law with no EU law heritage, which unhelpfully overlaps with the DSA. 

Coimisiún na Meán is the lead competent authority for the DSA in Ireland. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) is also designated as a competent authority under the Irish Act with respect to three Articles of the DSA, Articles 30, 31 and 32 (dealing with online marketplaces).  These Articles apply to online platforms allowing consumers to conclude distance contracts with traders, in other words marketplaces. There will inevitably be times when marketplaces in Ireland will then have to deal with not one regulator but two in relation to the DSA. 

The Irish Act provides Coimisiún na Meán and the CCPC with a number of supervisory and enforcement functions. The Irish Government has allocated €6 million in support of Coimisiún na Meán’s activities for 2024, a substantial figure showing that Coimisiún na Meán is expected to be busy. Coimisiún na Meán has also opened its user contact centre this month, through which users can ask questions about what issues they can complain to Coimisiún na Meán about. While Coimisiún na Meán will not act as an appeal body in respect of decisions of intermediary service providers regarding illegal content, complaints received may inform its regulatory activities.  As Ireland is the main establishment of a number of large technology companies and marketplaces, it can be expected that the Coimisiún na Meán and the CCPC will be active and the focus of attention. 

Coimisiún na Meán has already published very comprehensive application forms and guidance for those wishing to operate a certified out-of-court dispute settlement body under Article 21 and for those wishing to become Trusted Flaggers under Article 22 of the DSA. 

The objective of the DSA is to prevent illegal and harmful activities online and provide for enhanced user rights. The DSA is a transformative piece of legislation, requiring intermediary service providers to introduce significant changes to, among other things, their terms and conditions, transparency, internal processes and procedures and user interfaces (where applicable). With the DSA, users have enhanced rights, including the right to receive a statement of reasons where their content is restricted or removed and to access a newly required complaint-handling system. 

While its requirements were already applicable to those designated as Very Large Online Platforms (“VLOPs”) and Very Large Online Search Engines (“VLOSEs”), the DSA is now applicable to all intermediary service providers who come within its scope. 

Companies who come within the scope of the DSA are now subject to extensive obligations. 

Please contact Deirdre Kilroy or Megan Kearns if you would like help with the DSA in Ireland or more generally. 

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