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Landmark Digital Services Bill Published

The much-anticipated Digital Services Bill 2023 was published on 5 December 2023. The purpose of the Bill is to give effect in Ireland to certain provisions of the EU Digital Services Act (Regulation (EU) 2022/2065) (the "DSA"). The DSA will apply fully in Member States from 17 February 2024.

The DSA was adopted on 16 November 2022 and applied to the 19 Very Large Online Platforms ("VLOPs") and Very Large Online Search Engines ("VLOSEs") from 25 August 2023. The European Commission has primary responsibility for regulating the VLOPs and VLOSEs, but will do so in concert with national authorities. 

As an EU Regulation, most of provisions of the DSA have direct effect without the need for any national implementing measures. However, national legislation is necessary to give effect to the supervision and enforcement provisions of the DSA. The Bill provides that Coimisiún na Meán shall be designated as the Irish Digital Services Coordinator and competent authority under the DSA, as well as designating the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission ("CCPC") as a competent authority for Articles 30, 31 and 32 of the DSA, which relate to online marketplaces. 

In particular, Coimisiún na Meán and the CCPC will have power under the Bill to: undertake investigations into infringements of the DSA; issue compliance notices and orders to end a contravention; enter into commitment agreements with intermediary service providers; apply for an order to block access to an intermediary service; and impose administrative fines and/or daily penalty payments, in circumstances of ongoing infringement, up to the maximum limits set out in the DSA. The Bill also provides for a number of criminal offences.

A press release announcing the publication of the bill has been issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in which Minister Dara Calleary commented:

"The publication of this Bill marks another important step in preparing for full implementation of EU Regulation in Ireland from 17 February 2024. The Bill is tightly integrated with the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act 2022. This will ensure that the new functions and responsibilities for Coimisiún na Meán under the EU Regulation will be closely integrated with the Coimisiún’s other responsibilities, and that there is a coherent framework in Ireland for the regulation of online platforms."

We are analysing the Bill and will be publishing a more detailed insight. In the meantime, our previous article on the subject, including a detailed analysis of the General Scheme of the Bill, can be accessed here

If you would like to know more about this legislation, please contact our Digital Economy Group (DEG) partners Michael ByrneCarlo Salizzo, Davinia BrennanRory O'Keeffe and Deirdre Crowley or your usual Matheson contact.