Lead Forensics

Digital Services Coordinators: Who are they?

Like any regulation, the success of the Digital Services Act (DSA) hinges not only on its wording but, above all, on its enforcement. To this end, the DSA establishes a detailed and robust enforcement framework: the European Commission is not the sole enforcer; instead, Digital Services Coordinators (DSCs) are assigned a critical role within Member States. Now that the DSA is live, understanding the ‘what’ when it comes to DSCs is essential. But don’t worry, keep reading for a one-stop analysis of everything-DSC. 

1. What are DSCs? What do they do?

DSCs are not just coordinators — they are responsible for overseeing and enforcing the DSA within their respective Member States as well as contributing to the supervision and enforcement of the Regulation across the entire Union. 

Who are they? Each Member State appoints one DSC from among their competent authorities. The DSC is the first point of contact for enforcement, coordinates all its national authorities, and ensures cooperation at the EU level.

So, who’s on the DSC’s radar? DSCs are DSA enforcers for online intermediaries established or with legal representatives in their Member States, except for VLOPs, where there is shared competency with the Commission!

What do DSCs do? Each DSC is entrusted with a set of tasks for the supervision and enforcement of the DSA within Member States. Specifically, DSCs are in charge of:

  • Monitoring and enforcement of the law for platforms established in their Member State and imposing fines, where needed.
  • Certifying out-of-court dispute settlement bodies, when they meet certain criteria. 
  • Designating trusted flaggers, when they prove particular expertise and independence, and communicating them to the Commission and the Board;
  • Receiving complaints lodged by users, organisations or associations against providers of intermediary services;
  • Compiling an annual report of all the undertaken activities, including information from all other national competent authorities involved in the enforcement operations;
  • Granting researchers the status of ‘vetted researcher’ for the purpose of analysing systemic risks on VLOPS/VLOSE;
  • Participating in the Board and cooperating across the EU with other Member State coordinators

2. What about the other Digital Services Coordinators, can I forget about them?

    TL;DR: it depends, largely on your user base. And if you are a VLOP, then it is highly advisable to pay close attention to DSCs across Europe. 

    Imagine you are an intermediary service provider, called Business A, established in Denmark, but all your clients are in Spain. Individuals or representative organisations will be able to lodge complaints about compliance with the DSC in the territory where they receive the service. The Spanish DSC starts receiving complaints that user notices are not being processed swiftly and illegal content remains on the service (Article 16 warning bells start ringing!). The Spanish DSC cannot take action themselves, but they can ask the Danish authorities to act and they can raise these issues with the  European Board for Digital Services. 

    Cooperation is the cornerstone of enforcement and DSCs are expected to work with each other, other national competent authorities, and the Board, which is a network of DSCs chaired by the Commission which aims at consistently enforcing the DSA across all the Member States. Some instances of collaboration among DSCs include:

    • Cross-border cooperation: a DSC of destination (Spain in our example above) can ask the DSC of establishment to investigate suspected regulatory breaches. This process can also be activated by the Board directly (!) if three or more DSCs identify a potential violation in their regions;
    • Joint investigations: The DSC of establishment can cooperate with other DSCs for investigations involving providers operating in several Member States. This can be initiated independently or upon the recommendation of the Board.

    Where the supervision of very large online platforms and online search engines (VLOPs, VLOSEs) is concerned, the Commission takes the lead, with the Member State where the platform is established also having the possibility to take action. But this is not all – all Digital Services Coordinators have responsibilities to assist in the collection of data and evidence, issuing guidance on risk mitigation, and informing the Commission of suspect behaviour.  

    3. Next step: Get to know your DSC

    DSCs in Member States originate from various backgrounds, with the majority belonging to three main categories: telecommunications, consumer protection authorities, media and postal services.

    The current list of DSCs (both designated and expected) are often authorities already dealing with a variety of issues, for example, Denmark’s DSC; the Danish Consumer Competition and Consumer Authority with both competition and consumer protection. The expected Belgian DSC with postal and telecommunications sectors. Similarly, several DSCs in Estonia, Greece, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Romania, and the Netherlands are all dealing with various areas.  

    Check out our DSA tracker which includes our DSC treasure trove – with up-to-date information on which DSCs have been designated, links to guidelines or legal acts released by DSCs, as well as their main sectoral activities.

    However, please note that these are early days, and some designations need to still be fully stamped so stay tuned for updates!


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