“We should be happy with the position adopted by the European Parliament on the Digital Service Act (DSA),” says Mark Boekwijt, EU representative at the City of Amsterdam. “It’s a better regulation to ensure that ‘what is illegal offline, is illegal online,’ which is one of its underlying principles.”
Last Thursday, the European Parliament made some last-minute changes to the DSA before agreeing on it with a broad majority.
“The European Parliament’s position makes the DSA much stronger in the monitoring of platforms,” says Boekwijt. “It demands to get illegal content offline as soon as this has been notified. It also strengthens cross-border cooperation between member states and the European Commission to enforce compliance.”
Good news for users
Users will be happy to learn that sensitive personal data related to politics, religion and sexual orientation can’t be used for targeting techniques. Minors will also be protected from targeted ads.
This is a huge win for European citizens! Online ads will no longer be targeted on minors or based on sensible data #creepyads. Also, if you have browser settings indicating you don’t want to be tracked, they will now HAVE to be respected – no more cookie banners!
— Alexandra Geese (@AlexandraGeese) January 20, 2022
Another significant victory for users is the fact that denial of consent will no longer mean denial of service. Online platforms also won’t be able to make denying consent more complicated than giving it.
Specific techniques to extort consent to collect personal data will be forbidden. For instance, repeatedly showing pop-ups won’t be acceptable anymore. If users have already indicated their preference via ‘automated means’, such as web browser settings, platforms should accept that choice and not ask for consent again.
A mixed basket for cities struggling with short-term holiday rental
“The European Parliament has made explicit that short-term holiday rental advertising that is not in compliance with national regulations is illegal content,” observes Boekwijt. “This is an important recognition of our concerns.”
However, by focusing on the national level the European Parliament fails to recognise the specific needs of cities regarding short-term holiday rental legislation, a point that Eurocities considered essential to be included in the regulation.
“The parliament also demands that the Commission work on codes of conduct to ensure sector-compliance with the DSA-principles,” adds Boekwijt. “We would have liked to see even more regulation around short-term holiday rental, specifically on traceability of users and more data sharing between platforms and local authorities for their fight against illegal content online. But we recognise that the DSA is a horizontal instrument for all digital services.”
More news might be coming our way as the Commission announced a sector-specific regulation for short-term holiday rental. Eurocities and the Short-term holiday rental alliance have already discussed a number of concerns and issues to be tackled.
“We have expressed our concerns over the negative impact of short-term holiday rental in cities for a long time, which may have contributed to this decision,” says Boekwijt. “I’m sure we will find support for our cause in the parliament in due time.”
Cities are also looking at the upcoming Data Act, set to be published in late February, as it contains additional regulations on data sharing that could impact short-term holiday rental.