Policy monitor

Flemish Government - Flemish Media Authority- Competent authority Digital Services Act

The Flemish Government has ratified and promulgated an amendment to the Media Decree. The amendment is necessary to bring the decree in line with the European Digital Services Act on a single market for digital services. The decree also stipulates that the Flemish Media Regulator in Flanders will act as the competent authority for monitoring the DSA.

What: Administrative decision

Impact score: 1

For whom: the media sector, policymakers, businesses (e.g. service providers)

URL: https://www.ejustice.just.fgov...

The Digital Services Act (DSA) came into effect on February 17, 2024. This European regulation is legislation developed by the European Commission to modernize and harmonize rules for online platforms such as social media, search engines, and e-commerce sites. The act is designed to protect users from illegal content, increase transparency, and hold large online platforms accountable for the impact of their services on society. The DSA imposes obligations for the swift removal of illegal content, greater transparency about advertisements and algorithmic processes, and requires very large online platforms to conduct risk assessments. For more information, you can read our analysis of the Digital Services Regulation.

Although the DSA is a regulation that is directly applicable in every EU member state and does not need to be transposed into national legislation, EU member states are required to designate a digital services coordinator as the new national supervisory and enforcement authority and to adjust their existing national legislation to align with the DSA.

In light of this obligation, in January, the Belgian Federal Council of Ministers approved a preliminary draft law designating the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) as the Belgian Digital Services Coordinator. BIPT is responsible for coordinating the enforcement of the DSA with regional authorities. In Flanders, the Flemish Regulator for the Media (VRM) has been designated as the competent authority.

VRM is responsible for overseeing internet services based in Flanders. More specifically, this applies to companies with fewer than 45 million users or an annual turnover below 50 million euros. VRM will also have the authority to impose sanctions: in case of non-compliance with a DSA obligation, a fine of up to 6% of the company's global turnover may be imposed.

VRM will need to act, for example, if a service provider:

- Fails to report on content moderation,

- Does not have a user-friendly mechanism for filing complaints,

- Does not provide accessible terms of service,

- Fails to take illegal content offline.

VRM must also establish cooperation agreements with "trusted flaggers." These are organizations that can report illegal content. If a service provider receives a notification from a "trusted flagger," it must be given priority treatment.