The Digital Services Act (DSA), the European Union’s new rulebook on online intermediaries, is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done to guarantee safe play for our children. New product safety (GPSR) and liability rules need to fill in gaps left by the DSA.
Improvements and gaps in the new DSA
The new online rules, which received the final vote in the European Parliament today, bring some welcome improvements, notably:
- Seller traceability obligations for online marketplaces which might make it easier to identify sellers of dangerous toys
- Rules for trusted flaggers allowing brands to notify illegal products, such as dangerous counterfeits, and prompt their immediate removal
However, the DSA still leaves gaps which allow dishonest sellers from non-EU countries to reach kids with unsafe toys via online marketplaces. TIE is particularly worried that:
- No party will take responsibility or liability for the safety of toys when sellers are based outside the EU or when online platforms have not performed their seller traceability obligations
- Commercial sellers advertising on social media might remain untraceable as they fall out of the scope of seller traceability (Know Your Business Customer obligations)
New product safety rules must fill in the remaining gaps
The huge problem with unsafe toys sold online by traders based outside the EU was confirmed by the recent results of the 2021 Coordinated Activities on the Safety of Products. The market surveillance authorities from across the EU found that a massive 84% of the toys from non-EU sellers on online marketplaces targeting EU consumers were non-compliant with EU rules. None of these toys were listed on the EU Safety Gate, the EU’s rapid alert system for dangerous products, when they were put up for sale.
Because of their loopholes, neither the DSA, nor the EU’s Product Safety Pledge and the current proposal on the GPSR would improve this concerning situation. We need stronger product safety and liability rules if we are to weed out illegal traders of dangerous toys.
Catherine Van Reeth, TIE’s Director General said, “Online marketplaces should take steps to prevent the sale of dangerous products. They should, for instance, take responsibility for a product aimed for the EU market but whose seller is based outside the EU or not traceable. They should also have due care obligations such as verifying basic safety documents before allowing products to be put up for sale.”
She continued “We understand that due to its horizontal focus, the DSA did not go into this type of details, but our children’s safety is at stake. That is why we need the GPSR to step in.”