Chapter II – Liability of providers of intermediary services (Art. 4-10)
Art. 4 DSA - 'Mere conduit'
Art. 5 DSA - 'Caching'
Art. 6 DSA - Hosting
Art. 7 DSA - Voluntary own-initiative investigations and legal compliance
Art. 8 DSA - No general monitoring or active fact-finding obligations
Art. 9 DSA - Orders to act against illegal content
- Upon the receipt of an order to act against one or more specific items of illegal content, issued by the relevant national judicial or administrative authorities, on the basis of the applicable Union law or national law in compliance with Union law, providers of intermediary services shall inform the authority issuing the order, or any other authority specified in the order, of any effect given to the order without undue delay, specifying if and when effect was given to the order.
- Member States shall ensure that when an order referred to in paragraph 1 is transmitted to the provider, it meets at least the following conditions:
- that order contains the following elements:
- a reference to the legal basis under Union or national law for the order;
- a statement of reasons explaining why the information is illegal content, by reference to one or more specific provisions of Union law or national law in compliance with Union law;
- information identifying the issuing authority;
- clear information enabling the provider of intermediary services to identify and locate the illegal content concerned, such as one or more exact URL and, where necessary, additional information;
- information about redress mechanisms available to the provider of intermediary services and to the recipient of the service who provided the content;
- where applicable, information about which authority is to receive the information about the effect given to the orders;
- the territorial scope of that order, on the basis of the applicable rules of Union and national law, including the Charter, and, where relevant, general principles of international law, is limited to what is strictly necessary to achieve its objective;
- that order is transmitted in one of the languages declared by the provider of intermediary services pursuant to Article 11(3) or in another official language of the Member States, agreed between the authority issuing the order and that provider, and is sent to the electronic point of contact designated by that provider, in accordance with Article 11; where the order is not drafted in the language declared by the provider of intermediary services or in another bilaterally agreed language, the order may be transmitted in the language of the authority issuing the order, provided that it is accompanied by a translation into such declared or bilaterally agreed language of at least the elements set out in points (a) and (b) of this paragraph.
- that order contains the following elements:
- The authority issuing the order or, where applicable, the authority specified therein, shall transmit it, along with any information received from the provider of intermediary services concerning the effect given to that order to the Digital Services Coordinator from the Member State of the issuing authority.
- After receiving the order from the judicial or administrative authority, the Digital Services Coordinator of the Member State concerned shall, without undue delay, transmit a copy of the order referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article to all other Digital Services Coordinators through the system established in accordance with Article 85.
- At the latest when effect is given to the order or, where applicable, at the time provided by the issuing authority in its order, providers of intermediary services shall inform the recipient of the service concerned of the order received and to the effect given to it. Such information provided to the recipient of the service shall include a statement of reasons, the possibilities for redress that exist, and a description of the territorial scope of the order, in accordance with paragraph 2.
- The conditions and requirements laid down in this Article shall be without prejudice to national civil and criminal procedural law.
Depending on the legal system of each Member State and the field of law at issue, national judicial or administrative authorities, including law enforcement authorities, may order providers of intermediary services to act against one or more specific items of illegal content or to provide certain specific information. The national laws on the basis of which such orders are issued differ considerably and the orders are increasingly addressed in cross-border situations. In order to ensure that those orders can be complied with in an effective and efficient manner, in particular in a cross-border context, so that the public authorities concerned can carry out their tasks and the providers are not subject to any disproportionate burdens, without unduly affecting the rights and legitimate interests of any third parties, it is necessary to set certain conditions that those orders should meet and certain complementary requirements relating to the processing of those orders. Consequently, this Regulation should harmonise only certain specific minimum conditions that such orders should fulfil in order to give rise to the obligation of providers of intermediary services to inform the relevant authorities about the effect given to those orders. Therefore, this Regulation does not provide the legal basis for the issuing of such orders, nor does it regulate their territorial scope or cross-border enforcement.
The applicable Union or national law on the basis of which those orders are issued might require additional conditions and should be the basis for the enforcement of the respective orders. In the event of non-compliance with such orders, the issuing Member State should be able to enforce them in accordance with its national law. The applicable national law should be in compliance with Union law, including the Charter and the TFEU provisions on the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the Union, in particular with regard to online gambling and betting services. Similarly, the application of such national laws for the enforcement of the respective orders is without prejudice to applicable Union legal acts or international agreements concluded by the Union or by Member States relating to the cross-border recognition, execution and enforcement of those orders, in particular in civil and criminal matters. On the other hand, the enforcement of the obligation to inform the relevant authorities about the effect given to those orders, as opposed to the enforcement of the orders themselves, should be subject to the rules set out in this Regulation.
The provider of intermediary services should inform the issuing authority about any follow-up given to such orders without undue delay, in compliance with the time limits set out in relevant Union or national law.
Relevant national authorities should be able to issue such orders against content considered illegal or orders to provide information on the basis of Union law or national law in compliance with Union law, in particular the Charter, and to address them to providers of intermediary services, including those established in another Member State. However, this Regulation should be without prejudice to Union law in the field of judicial cooperation in civil or criminal matters, including Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 and a Regulation on European production and preservation orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters, and to national criminal or civil procedural law. Therefore, where those laws in the context of criminal or civil proceedings provide for conditions that are additional to or incompatible with the conditions provided for in this Regulation in relation to orders to act against illegal content or to provide information, the conditions provided for in this Regulation might not apply or might be adapted. In particular, the obligation on the Digital Services Coordinator from the Member State of the issuing authority to transmit a copy of the orders to all other Digital Services Coordinators might not apply in the context of criminal proceedings or might be adapted, where the applicable national criminal procedural law so provides.
Furthermore, the obligation for the orders to contain a statement of reasons explaining why the information is illegal content should be adapted, where necessary, under the applicable national criminal procedural law for the prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of criminal offences. Finally, the obligation on the providers of intermediary services to inform the recipient of the service might be delayed in accordance with applicable Union or national law, in particular in the context of criminal, civil or administrative proceedings. In addition, the orders should be issued in compliance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 and the prohibition of general obligations to monitor information or to actively seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity laid down in this Regulation. The conditions and requirements laid down in this Regulation which apply to orders to act against illegal content are without prejudice to other Union acts providing for similar systems for acting against specific types of illegal content, such as Regulation (EU) 2021/784, Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, or Regulation (EU) 2017/2394 that confers specific powers to order the provision of information to Member State consumer law enforcement authorities, whilst the conditions and requirements that apply to orders to provide information are without prejudice to other Union acts providing for similar relevant rules for specific sectors. Those conditions and requirements should be without prejudice to retention and preservation rules under applicable national law, in compliance with Union law and confidentiality requests by law enforcement authorities related to the non-disclosure of information. Those conditions and requirements should not affect the possibility for Member States to require a provider of intermediary services to prevent an infringement, in compliance with Union law including this Regulation, and in particular with the prohibition of general monitoring obligations.
The conditions and requirements laid down in this Regulation should be fulfilled at the latest when the order is transmitted to the provider concerned. Therefore, the order may be issued in one of the official languages of the issuing authority of the Member State concerned. However, where that language is different from the language declared by the provider of intermediary services, or from another official language of the Member States agreed between the authority issuing the order and the provider of intermediary services, the transmission of the order should be accompanied by a translation of at least the elements of the order which are set out in this Regulation. Where a provider of intermediary services has agreed with the authorities of a Member State to use a certain language, it should be encouraged to accept orders in the same language issued by authorities in other Member States. The orders should include elements that enable the addressee to identify the issuing authority, including the contact details of a contact point within that authority where appropriate, and to verify the authenticity of the order.
The territorial scope of such orders to act against illegal content should be clearly set out on the basis of the applicable Union or national law enabling the issuance of the order and should not exceed what is strictly necessary to achieve its objectives. In that regard, the national judicial or administrative authority, which might be a law enforcement authority, issuing the order should balance the objective that the order seeks to achieve, in accordance with the legal basis enabling its issuance, with the rights and legitimate interests of all third parties that may be affected by the order, in particular their fundamental rights under the Charter. In particular in a cross-border context, the effect of the order should in principle be limited to the territory of the issuing Member State, unless the illegality of the content derives directly from Union law or the issuing authority considers that the rights at stake require a wider territorial scope, in accordance with Union and international law, while taking into account the interests of international comity.
The orders to provide information regulated by this Regulation concern the production of specific information about individual recipients of the intermediary service concerned who are identified in those orders for the purposes of determining compliance by the recipients of the service with applicable Union or national rules. Such orders should request information with the aim of enabling the identification of the recipients of the service concerned. Therefore, orders regarding information on a group of recipients of the service who are not specifically identified, including orders to provide aggregate information required for statistical purposes or evidence-based policy-making, are not covered by the requirements of this Regulation on the provision of information.
Orders to act against illegal content and to provide information are subject to the rules safeguarding the competence of the Member State in which the service provider addressed is established and the rules laying down possible derogations from that competence in certain cases, set out in Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC, only if the conditions of that Article are met. Given that the orders in question relate to specific items of illegal content and information, respectively, where they are addressed to providers of intermediary services established in another Member State they do not in principle restrict those providers’ freedom to provide their services across borders. Therefore, the rules set out in Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC, including those regarding the need to justify measures derogating from the competence of the Member State in which the service provider is established on certain specified grounds and regarding the notification of such measures, do not apply in respect of those orders.
The requirements to provide information on redress mechanisms available to the provider of the intermediary service and to the recipient of the service who provided the content include a requirement to provide information about administrative complaint-handling mechanisms and judicial redress including appeals against orders issued by judicial authorities. Moreover, Digital Services Coordinators could develop national tools and guidance as regards complaint and redress mechanisms applicable in their respective territory, in order to facilitate access to such mechanisms by recipients of the service. Finally, when applying this Regulation Member States should respect the fundamental right to an effective judicial remedy and to a fair trial as provided for in Article 47 of the Charter. This Regulation should therefore not prevent the relevant national judicial or administrative authorities from issuing, on the basis of the applicable Union or national law, an order to restore content, where such content was in compliance with the terms and conditions of the provider of the intermediary service but has been erroneously considered as illegal by that provider and has been removed.