14 September 2020
Ministry of Infrastructure
Clarify European rules for digital services and
ensure appropriate responsibility for platforms
– Sweden’s input to a Digital Services Act
In a fast-evolving economy, the revision of the e-commerce Directive and
the introduction of a Digital Services Act is an opportunity to safeguard
consumers’ rights and offer business a sustainable and evidence-based legal
framework fit for the digital age. Sweden welcomes the initiative by the
European Commission and offers this paper to highlight certain aspects that
need to be taken into consideration.
Online platforms provide great value and are crucial for much of our daily
lives. But more needs to be done to keep illegal content away from
platforms. Otherwise, trust in such platforms and their usability will erode. A
digital services act package therefore needs to ensure that online platforms
take appropriate responsibility for removing and keeping out illegal content.
To strike a balance, regulation should concern content that is manifestly
illegal under national or EU law, and not harmful content.
To seize the opportunity and deliver a sustainable framework for the Digital
Single Market, new rules on digital services need to be centred around the
main principles of the e-commerce directive, such as the country of origin
principle, so as to allow SMEs to scale up across borders and grow. These
principles should therefore be strengthened and clarified.
- Sweden welcomes the plans presented by the Commission on a
package for the regulation of digital services, including a review of
the rules of the e-commerce directive. The revision should be based
on a robust impact assessment that ensures an evidence-based
Digital Services Act
Preserve and develop the main principles
- EU harmonisation is necessary and may need to be enhanced, in
order to enable a digital single market.
- In order to create a sustainable legal framework, fit for the digital age,
the main principles of the e-commerce directive need to be preserved
but should be developed and clarified. For example, this should apply
for the principle on mere conduit as well the prohibition on Member
States imposing general obligations on providers to monitor their
- The country of origin principle should be preserved and if possible
Notice, takedown and stay down
- New rules on digital services should, as a starting point, concern
content that is manifestly illegal under national law or EU law.
- Online platforms need to take more responsibility for removing and
keeping out manifestly illegal content, as well as content that enables
the sale of illegal, dangerous and counterfeit goods from their
platforms (hereafter illegal content
- At the same time, a balance is needed which, among other things,
ensures respect for human rights including freedom of expression
and the principle of non-discrimination, and does not disincentivise
online businesses to grow and innovate. Also, increasing online
platforms’ responsibility for removing illegal content should be done
so as to not make it more difficult to fight crime or conduct market
- The process of notifying and removing illegal content on online
platforms should be clarified and harmonized. EU rules should not
disincentivise platforms from taking more proactive measures in
order to take down illegal content, and make sure it stays down. This
could be done through a principle such as “The Good Samaritan".
- Online platforms should have user-friendly mechanisms where users
can notify the presence of illegal content and get information on how
the notification is processed.
- Such rules should also entail that online platforms with significant
power take greater responsibility. A risk-based approach could be
appropriate. For example, platforms with different types of content
may need to have more comprehensive measures in place, than
platforms that are focused on conveying only a certain type of
content that may be less problematic from a legal perspective.
Know your business customer
- There may be reason to consider whether providers of information
society services should be required to verify the correct identity and
other up-to-date information on their business customers in order to
ensure transparency between a user and a contracting party for
example in the area of product safety or consumer law.
Regulation with the right scope that works as intended
- Regulation of e-commerce providers established in third countries,
for example in terms of product safety requirements, must be
compatible with international trade rules (i.e. WTO law).
- In order to provide further clarity as to the scope of the Digital
, the concept of information society services
reviewed, and a detailed definition of online platforms
included in the
new act. The aim of such a review should be to update and where
possible simplify the legal definitions and concepts to better fit the
- Finally, in order to make the Digital Service Act work in practice and
as intended, cooperation between competent national authorities in
the EU should be strengthened.
Ex ante regulation of online platforms
- Sweden shares the Commission’s view that competition problems in
the platform economy need to be further examined.
- For that reason, Sweden welcomes the Commission’s review into
whether sector-specific ex ante regulation may be needed to ensure
competition in the light of some online platforms that act as
- The impact assessment should take into account, inter alia, how a
proposal relates to the review of EU competition law, the rules of the
EU Platform-to-Business Regulation and its evaluation process.
- Careful consideration is needed of how to define significant power
(or a similar concept), and of how to avoid any negative incentives
- Threshold effects need to be avoided, and technologies or business
practices should not be artificially promoted. A number of criteria for
the definition of significant power (or a similar concept) beside
market size need to be considered such as control over data and