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EU’s “Internet Constitution” Takes Hold, TikTok Faces Investigation

LAWEU's "Internet Constitution" Takes Hold, TikTok Faces Investigation

Since February 17th, the Act on Digital Services began to apply universally in all EU member states, including Poland. The EU regulation regulates the activities of service providers on the Internet and is primarily intended to increase user protection, thereby ensuring that their rights on the Internet are more strictly adhered to. On Monday, the European Commission announced the commencement of proceedings to determine whether TikTok may have breached new regulations in areas related to the protection of minors and transparency of advertisements. As emphasized by Maciej Kawecki, President of the Lema Institute, some EU countries, including Poland, are however delayed in implementing the new regulations.

Upon the entry into force of the Digital Services Act (DSA), users will be more clearly and legibly informed of the obligations arising from subscribing to various types of services and transferring their data. Platforms will also not be able to enforce certain types of services through suggestions, such as pop-ups, additional checkboxes, colours, graphics, etc. So far, no legal act has so clearly covered this visual area, which concerns the interface itself – says Maciej Kawecki, president of the Lema Institute, director of the WSB University Innovation Center Merito Warsaw.

DSA, colloquially called the Internet constitution, is an EU regulation that regulates the activities of service providers on the Internet. It primarily aims to increase the protection of Internet users, so that their rights on the network will be more strictly adhered to. Among its most important assumptions are, among others, changing the way ads are targeted and the need for greater transparency in this process and new regulations for moderating comments and opinions posted on portals. The scale of changes introduced by the DSA is comparable to those introduced a few years ago by the GDPR, the EU regulation on the protection of personal data.

DSA in practice will cover almost all entities providing Internet access services, VPNs, hosting services, server services, cloud services, as well as services allowing searching for information on the Internet.

The most restrictive obligations resulting from the new regulation were imposed on large platforms and internet search engines, which have more than 45 million active users. The EU has defined 17 such platforms (VLOP). They include: TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, AliExpress, Amazon Store, Apple AppStore, Bing,, Wikipedia, Zalando and three pornographic sites.

After a series of proceedings last year, some of the DSA regulations apply to the largest platforms and search engines, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, X and Google, which were required to change algorithms recommending content and allow users to use better feeds, e.g. offer them the possibility to choose at least one content selection system that does not track and use personal data. However, from February 17th, EU legislation has come into universal effect in all EU member states, including Poland. It also covers smaller Internet service providers, including Polish platforms such as Wykop or Allegro.

The European Commission initiated formal proceedings against TikTok under the DSA yesterday. It will verify whether the platform could have breached the new regulations in four areas related to: the protection of minors, the transparency of advertisements, scientists’ access to data, and risk management related to addictive design and harmful content.

Moreover, the Digital Services Act is a EU regulation, which means that it is directly applicable in Poland and other EU countries, similar to national laws. However, like the GDPR, DSA leaves some issues to be detailed by national legislatures. For the new law to work properly in the EU member states, they also have to, for example, appoint national coordinators, that is, the bodies that will be responsible for overseeing its observance and accepting user complaints. Most member states, however, are late with this.

In Poland, a draft act implementing the DSA appeared at the beginning of January this year, and the Ministry of Digitization announced public consultations on the assumptions of this document, which ended on Friday, January 19th. In the draft legislation prepared by the ministry, the role of the national Coordinator for Digital Services would fall to the President of the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) with the support of the President of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK).

According to Kawecki, EU member states failed to meet the deadlines for these regulations, and as long as national law is not adopted, these regulations are unenforceable.

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