Amazon has shared that it has over 181 million average monthly users in the European Union (EU) and has given jobs to more than 150,000 people there. This was mentioned in a report mandated by the EU Digital Services Act (DSA).
Earlier in August, the DSA came into force for very large online platforms (VLOP) and very large online search engines (VLOSE). The Act sets out how such platforms should handle content, protect user privacy, and share information if they have more than 45 million users in the EU.
According to the report, Germany is the largest market for Amazon, with over 60 million people using it every month, followed by Italy (38 million users) and France (34 million users).
Furthermore, Amazon has office buildings in 50 European cities and 250 places where goods are stored and sent out.
In the first half of 2023, Amazon took 274 million actions on its own initiative to remove or restrict content from its EU store, even if the content wasn’t illegal. The most significant type of restriction was disabling access to content (134 million actions), followed by removing content (84 million) and partially suspending the provision of the service (52 million).
Of the 274 million voluntary actions, 73 million were fully automated – with 97% of these fully automated actions being accurate.
Also, in the first half of 2023, EU governments asked Amazon for user information 8,863 times through legal requests. The largest number of requests came from Germany (4,513 requests), followed by Spain (2,206) and Italy (1,101).
Amazon’s Challenge Against The DSA Regulations
Amazon doesn’t agree with being included in the VLOP group. It is currently challenging this status in court, but a decision hasn’t been reached yet.
Amazon claims that the new European rules unfairly target it and has taken legal steps to challenge the decision made on April 25, 2023, that labeled Amazon Store a VLOP. According to Amazon, these rules go against its basic rights within the EU’s legal framework:
- Unfair Labeling: Amazon says being labeled as a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) is unfair and treats it differently from other platforms or stores in the EU.
- Profiling Rule: The new rules ask big platforms to give users options not based on profiling for recommendations. Amazon finds this rule hard to follow and believes it goes against its basic rights.
- Ad Data Sharing: Platforms need to create and share a public record of advertisement data to check how ads are targeted. Amazon sees this as an extra rule that unfairly targets it, maybe because of its large number of users and extensive ad operations.
- Access to Ad Info: Having to show ad data to researchers and authorities is seen by Amazon as a step too far since this might give an unfair advantage to competitors or raise privacy issues for advertisers and users.
In September, Amazon asked for a pause on certain rules of the DSA regarding sharing advertisement data and giving users profiling-free options on its recommending systems while the court decides on its challenge against the VLOP label.
The court agreed with Amazon’s request, saying that this temporary decision just keeps things as they are for a short time.
The DSA Explained: Safeguarding the EU Digital Realm
The DSA is a big step by the EU to create a safer and more accountable digital realm within the EU. It brings new regulations for online services, making it easier for them to operate across EU countries while ensuring strong protection for all users.
One of the key points of the DSA is to create clear rules that protect online users while also encouraging innovation and helping small online platforms and start-ups to grow. It puts the interests of citizens at the heart of these new rules.
New rules under the DSA improve the way illegal content is dealt with online and protect people’s rights, including free speech. They make it easier to report illegal content, bring more transparency to content moderation, and strengthen public oversight of big online platforms.
If the involved parties don’t comply with the DSA, they could face hefty fines, stricter oversight, or even a temporary ban in the EU market for serious violations.
The responsibility of enforcing the DSA is shared between the EU Commission and Member States. Digital Services Coordinators (DSCs) in each country, to be set up by 17 February 2024, will play a key role in ensuring platforms follow the DSA rules, including handling complaints and resolving disputes outside the court.
A significant move in enforcing the DSA was the launch of the European Centre for Algorithmic Transparency (ECAT) on 18 April 2023. Based in Sevilla, ECAT will help the Commission and national authorities in checking how the DSA is being followed. It will carry out technical tests, analyze reports, support investigations, and serve as a center for research on these issues.