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Chapter II – Liability of providers of intermediary services (Art. 4-10)

Art. 4 DSA - 'Mere conduit' arrow_right_alt

Art. 5 DSA - 'Caching' arrow_right_alt

  1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the transmission in a communication network of information provided by a recipient of the service, the service provider shall not be liable for the automatic, intermediate and temporary storage of that information, performed for the sole purpose of making more efficient or more secure the information’s onward transmission to other recipients of the service upon their request, on condition that the provider:
    1. does not modify the information;
    2. complies with conditions on access to the information;
    3. complies with rules regarding the updating of the information, specified in a manner widely recognised and used by industry;
    4. does not interfere with the lawful use of technology, widely recognised and used by industry, to obtain data on the use of the information; and
    5. acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information it has stored upon obtaining actual knowledge of the fact that the information at the initial source of the transmission has been removed from the network, or access to it has been disabled, or that a judicial or an administrative authority has ordered such removal or disablement.
  2. This Article shall not affect the possibility for a judicial or administrative authority, in accordance with a Member State’s legal system, to require the service provider to terminate or prevent an infringement.
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Recital 16

The legal certainty provided by the horizontal framework of conditional exemptions from liability for providers of intermediary services, laid down in Directive 2000/31/EC, has allowed many novel services to emerge and scale up across the internal market. That framework should therefore be preserved. However, in view of the divergences when transposing and applying the relevant rules at national level, and for reasons of clarity and coherence, that framework should be incorporated in this Regulation. It is also necessary to clarify certain elements of that framework, having regard to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Recital 17

The rules on liability of providers of intermediary services set out in this Regulation should only establish when the provider of intermediary services concerned cannot be held liable in relation to illegal content provided by the recipients of the service. Those rules should not be understood to provide a positive basis for establishing when a provider can be held liable, which is for the applicable rules of Union or national law to determine. Furthermore, the exemptions from liability established in this Regulation should apply in respect of any type of liability as regards any type of illegal content, irrespective of the precise subject matter or nature of those laws.

Recital 18

The exemptions from liability established in this Regulation should not apply where, instead of confining itself to providing the services neutrally by a merely technical and automatic processing of the information provided by the recipient of the service, the provider of intermediary services plays an active role of such a kind as to give it knowledge of, or control over, that information. Those exemptions should accordingly not be available in respect of liability relating to information provided not by the recipient of the service but by the provider of the intermediary service itself, including where the information has been developed under the editorial responsibility of that provider.

Recital 19

In view of the different nature of the activities of ‘mere conduit’, ‘caching’ and ‘hosting’ and the different position and abilities of the providers of the services in question, it is necessary to distinguish the rules applicable to those activities, in so far as under this Regulation they are subject to different requirements and conditions and their scope differs, as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Recital 20

Where a provider of intermediary services deliberately collaborates with a recipient of the services in order to undertake illegal activities, the services should not be deemed to have been provided neutrally and the provider should therefore not be able to benefit from the exemptions from liability provided for in this Regulation. This should be the case, for instance, where the provider offers its service with the main purpose of facilitating illegal activities, for example by making explicit that its purpose is to facilitate illegal activities or that its services are suited for that purpose. The fact alone that a service offers encrypted transmissions or any other system that makes the identification of the user impossible should not in itself qualify as facilitating illegal activities.

Recital 21

A provider should be able to benefit from the exemptions from liability for ‘mere conduit’ and for ‘caching’ services when it is in no way involved with the information transmitted or accessed. This requires, among other things, that the provider does not modify the information that it transmits or to which it provides access. However, this requirement should not be understood to cover manipulations of a technical nature which take place in the course of the transmission or access, as long as those manipulations do not alter the integrity of the information transmitted or to which access is provided.

Recital 25

The exemptions from liability established in this Regulation should not affect the possibility of injunctions of different kinds against providers of intermediary services, even where they meet the conditions set out as part of those exemptions. Such injunctions could, in particular, consist of orders by courts or administrative authorities, issued in compliance with Union law, requiring the termination or prevention of any infringement, including the removal of illegal content specified in such orders, or the disabling of access to it.

Recital 27

Whilst the rules on liability of providers of intermediary services set out in this Regulation concentrate on the exemption from liability of providers of intermediary services, it is important to recall that, despite the generally important role played by such providers, the problem of illegal content and activities online should not be dealt with by solely focusing on their liability and responsibilities. Where possible, third parties affected by illegal content transmitted or stored online should attempt to resolve conflicts relating to such content without involving the providers of intermediary services in question. Recipients of the service should be held liable, where the applicable rules of Union and national law determining such liability so provide, for the illegal content that they provide and may disseminate to the public through intermediary services. Where appropriate, other actors, such as group moderators in closed online environments, in particular in the case of large groups, should also help to avoid the spread of illegal content online, in accordance with the applicable law. Furthermore, where it is necessary to involve information society services providers, including providers of intermediary services, any requests or orders for such involvement should, as a general rule, be directed to the specific provider that has the technical and operational ability to act against specific items of illegal content, so as to prevent and minimise any possible negative effects on the availability and accessibility of information that is not illegal content.

Recital 28

Since 2000, new technologies have emerged that improve the availability, efficiency, speed, reliability, capacity and security of systems for the transmission, ‘findability’ and storage of data online, leading to an increasingly complex online ecosystem. In this regard, it should be recalled that providers of services establishing and facilitating the underlying logical architecture and proper functioning of the internet, including technical auxiliary functions, can also benefit from the exemptions from liability set out in this Regulation, to the extent that their services qualify as ‘mere conduit’, ‘caching’ or ‘hosting’ services. Such services include, as the case may be, wireless local area networks, domain name system (DNS) services, top-level domain name registries, registrars, certificate authorities that issue digital certificates, virtual private networks, online search engines, cloud infrastructure services, or content delivery networks, that enable, locate or improve the functions of other providers of intermediary services. Likewise, services used for communications purposes, and the technical means of their delivery, have also evolved considerably, giving rise to online services such as Voice over IP, messaging services and web-based email services, where the communication is delivered via an internet access service. Those services, too, can benefit from the exemptions from liability, to the extent that they qualify as ‘mere conduit’, ‘caching’ or ‘hosting’ services.

Art. 6 DSA - Hosting arrow_right_alt

Art. 7 DSA - Voluntary own-initiative investigations and legal compliance arrow_right_alt

Art. 8 DSA - No general monitoring or active fact-finding obligations arrow_right_alt

Art. 9 DSA - Orders to act against illegal content arrow_right_alt

Art. 10 DSA - Orders to provide information arrow_right_alt