Why is the Digital Services Act important for startups?

January 19, 2022

10,000 startups in Europe are counting on the European Parliament to vote for a Digital Services Act that facilitates innovation for businesses and societies across Europe by sticking to the hard-won IMCO compromise and rejecting disproportionate last-minute amendments.

MEPs in the Internal Market Committee MEPs have designed an approach that strikes a balance between preventing the dissemination of illegal content and providing startups with the flexibility they need to innovate. While not perfect, the IMCO compromise does provide an opportunity to create an updated, clarified and harmonised rulebook for platforms operating in the EU. 

Here’s why the DSA vote matters for startups:

The DSA will provide an intermediary liability framework for all online platforms, including marketplaces, and straightforward due diligence requirements as the foundation for a thriving digital economy that has provided value for Europe in the last decades. It will update and clarify the rules for online platforms such as RingTwice. The Belgium local service startup that makes sure its users and business users have all the safeguards and guarantees they need to use its services in a secure way. To protect this balance and enable EU success stories like RingTwice to grow, amendments like staydown obligations that implicitly lead to upload filters or those that conflate the DSA with the GPSR or GDPR should be rejected.

A strong Country of Origin framework allows startups to scale-up across the EU once instead of 27 times, building on the strength of the Internal Market.  Introducing ‘country of destination’ measures would effectively ringfence big established players as a startup like Tattoodo would not be able to comply with 27 legal regimes. 

The DSA will give startups the opportunity to challenge big digital and analog incumbents through targeted advertising. Startups are the most consumer-focused businesses, chance based on their ability to make value propositions to consumers. A ban on targeted ads would deflect startups’ resources away from innovation into marketing budgets. The Danish startups Fra Fejo is an organic farm that would not be able to compete and reach out to customers without using targeted ads. 

Getting updated rules, avoiding bans on digital marketing practices and getting the right enforcement will be key to make the DSA as a successful piece of legislation for startups ecosystems across Europe. There’s many more platforms like RingTwice, Tattoodo or Fra Fejo. Designing a DSA that enables them to launch and scale in the EU will be the key barometer of whether the legislation is successful.