News & positions

POSITIONS 19 February 2020

Digital Services Act – the opportunity for Europe to lead in the platform economy

We must aim for a legitimate digital economy framework that encourages all actors to play fairly and to comply with EU standards, to protect consumers and safeguard trust in the digital environment. Such a framework for trust will give Europe the chance to lead in this space for the future.

  • Address the issue of fake consumer accounts – one single purported individual’s account that sells thousands of the same products should surely raise questions. Why not use the same tools applied to business-to-business accounts and thereby eliminate this problem?

  • Put algorithms to good use. Platforms – including online marketplaces, social media, search engines, and others – deploy algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to protect their own commercial interests. Let’s strengthen and apply them equally to protect consumers and other genuine businesses to prevent illegal listings.

  • Enable under-resourced customs officers to stop counterfeits at the border by giving them access to data so they know which consignments to target. This is possible – there is, or at least there ought to be, a trail of who put the container on the ship, handed the boxes to the courier, what is declared in the shipping documents. These intermediaries – the transporter, shipper, courier, freight forwarder, online marketplace or payment provider – should have that data. At every step in the chain there is knowledge, there is data. With millions of products crossing European borders through our ports daily, sharing data to enable customs authorities to do their jobs should be a priority. GDPR-compliant data-sharing for law enforcement should be the norm, not an impossibility.

  • Likewise, when counterfeit is discovered in the EU, the police and national market surveillance authorities also need this intelligence. Income from counterfeiting funds crime, up to and including organised crime: the perpetrators are often sought by many national agencies. Sharing data on illegal activity with law enforcement should be a duty of any legitimate business. Intermediaries who are paid for the movement and sale of illegal products should play their part in this fight.

Why address this now?

The European Commission has rightfully pointed to a future which is digital, sustainable and most importantly, places people at the heart of everything we do. The digital world, with all players, needs to embrace this and accept that what is illegal offline should be illegal online. We need a legislative framework which serves a compliance by design purpose. Everyone has a role and a responsibility to act now and ensure we have a legitimate and strong digital economy for the future.