MEP vies to target rogue traders in Digital Services Act

Online sellers of dangerous and counterfeit goods could be further targeted under the European Parliament's Internal Market committee report on the Digital Services Act, the lead MEP on the text said on Tuesday (23 February).

S&D MEP Christel Schaldemose is the lead MEP for the Internal Market Committee's report on the Digital Services Act. [European Parliament Media]

Online sellers of dangerous and counterfeit goods could be further targeted under the European Parliament’s Internal Market committee report on the Digital Services Act, the lead MEP on the text said on Tuesday (23 February).

Speaking as part of an online briefing for reporters, S&D lawmaker Christel Schaldemose said one of her primary objectives with the plans would be to ensure that the EU is equipped with the tools to clamp down on the sale of illicit products.

“One of the main issues here and now is how we tackle dangerous products…I think that the proposal is not good enough in this area,” she said.

“We see today, a lot of illegal products being traded on platforms. And if we don’t do anything against that, then there is a risk that we undermine all the good achievements we have made in the single market over the last few years in the EU.”

‘Importer responsibility’ clause

As part of the Commission’s proposal for the DSA, presented in December, platforms will face the prospect of billions of euros in fines unless they abide by new rules across fields including advertising transparency, illegal content removal, and data access.

And for Schaldemose, the Commission’s proposal is lacking in its approach when it comes to ensuring the safety of online marketplaces, and important revisions need to be made to the text as a result.

Along this axis, the Danish MEP revealed that she is mulling over the option of tabling a certain ‘importer responsibility’ clause that clarifies the liability of illegal trades that occur on online platforms.

Counterfeit and illegal sellers to be targeted in Digital Services Act, Vestager says

A crackdown on the sale of counterfeit and illegal goods across online platforms is likely to feature in the European Commission’s upcoming Digital Services Act plans, the EU’s Vice-President for Digital Affairs, Margrethe Vestager has said.

For their part, one of the tools the Commission decided to include in the Digital Services Act was the so-called Know Your Business Customer principle (KYBC), whereby online marketplaces will be required to verify the identity of sellers.

Fielding questions from MEPs in the Internal Market Committee on Tuesday, the EU’s Executive Vice-President for Digital, Margrethe Vestager, said the KYBC instrument could be used to good effect in the fight against the trade of dangerous goods and products online.

However, for Schaldemose, the Commission’s KYBC plans are not sufficiently rigorous.

“It’s good that they have established some obligations on the platforms to know their business customers, but it’s still I’m not sure that’s enough,” she said.

The EU executive has previously spoken out strongly against illegal sellers online, with Vestager having said that online shoppers should be able to trust vendors who they buy from online, just as they would in the physical world.

“Any consumer who enters a shop on the main street would of course expect that the toys are perfectly safe,” she said last year. “And that, of course, is what is needed also when shopping online, that we can trust the people with whom we shop, that the products are safe and that there are no counterfeits.”

“It is ridiculous that a trader that has been caught selling illegal products can disappear into thin air and sign up under a different name just a few minutes later,” she added.

Lead committee for the DSA and the DMA

Meanwhile, Parliament’s Internal Market is continuing to make the case for leading both the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, despite a challenge on the latter file from the Economics Committee.

Speaking on this subject on Tuesday, Schaldemose said that “the conflicts will be solved relatively soon” between the two committees, but acknowledged that there “is a fight there clearly.”

The concept of both files, she added, clearly stretches across the interests of both committees, but, with the legal basis of both texts being Article 114 of the treaty, which covers the functioning of the internal market, “seen from our perspective the leader [of the texts] is clear.”

Don't ignore platforms 'combining services' in Digital Markets Act, Netherlands says

More attention should be paid to whether platforms offer an ‘ecosystem’ of many different services, in terms of designating them as so-called ‘gatekeeper platforms’ and therefore coming under the scope of the proposed Digital Markets Act (DMA) rules, says a position paper published by the Dutch government.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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