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The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Digital Services Act – deepening the internal market and clarifying responsibilities for digital services. Eurocare is an alliance of non-governmental health organisations with 52 member organisations across 22 European countries advocating the prevention and reduction of alcohol related harm in Europe. Given Eurocare’s profile, comments are given to areas in which it possesses expertise and interest.
As a general comment Eurocare would like to support the European Commission’s initiative for a horizontal instrument to prevent legal and practical fragmentations in the single market and the need for better alignment and simplification of the legal provisions governing the digital landscape.
Eurocare believes that it is the European Commission’s obligation to lay down clearer, more stringent, harmonised rules for digital actors’ responsibilities to increase citizen’s safety online and protect their rights.
Eurocare would like the DSA to focus on safety of vulnerable users, children and young people. Special attention needs to be given to areas such as online advertising as they are a core feature (and heart of the business model) for most online platforms and currently enjoy competitive advantage compared to traditional media.
The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) has in previously DSA-consultation expressed the need to include harm into the legislation – not only illegal content. Given the burden alcohol places on people’s health and its role as a risk factor for cancer, EU should ensure policy coherence between provisions for online advertising of alcohol (through AVMSD, DSA and other legal instruments) and its health policy goals.
With this in mind, we have the following feedback to the proposed initiative:
Article 17: internal complaint-handling system We believe harmful content, and not only illegal content, should be included in a responsible internal complaint-handling system of the platforms. An example is advertisement of alcohol that are not following the AVMSD, such as advertisement of alcohol linked to social success. This content is in most Member States not illegal, but given the negative health consequences of the product, it should be included in complaint systems. In addition, in some Member States the content is not allowed, and this cross-border issue should also be reflected in the complaint-handling system.
Article 19: trusted flaggers As explained above, harmful content should be part of the issue of trusted flaggers, and not only illegal content. There may be content that is not illegal, but still have negative consequences and should therefore be included in the issue of trusted flaggers.
Article 31: data access and scrutiny (for ‘very large online platforms’ only) We would like to propose that very large online platforms also should give access to data about advertisement of potentially harmful content for consumers – such as alcohol, food in high fat, sugar, and salt. Again, the data released for scrutiny should not be limited to illegal content, but also other data related to other potential harms.
Article 37: crisis protocol We would like to express our support to the inclusion of public health in the proposal, where the Board may recommend the Commission to initiate crisis protocols. A
rticle 48 – structure of the Board: We would like to propose the inclusion of a civil society representative for consumer issues, including public health, as part of the Board. This would strengthen citizen’s voice in the work of the Board, and lead to better transparency and legitimacy.
Eurocare would strongly advocate that given
the burden alcohol places on people’s health and its role as a risk factor for
cancer, EU should ensure policy coherence between provisions for online
advertising of alcohol (through AVMSD, DSA and other legal instruments) and its
health policy goals. Eurocare will
closely follow and contribute to further reforms and improvements to EU Digital