Public comment on the German government’s bill to implement the EU’s Digital Services Act

Position Statement

Building on a more extensive public comment on the German government’s earlier draft law to implement the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), SNV project director Julian Jaursch follows up with an analysis and comment on the updated version of the bill. The draft law is currently being discussed in the German parliament, with a public hearing scheduled for February 21, 2024. Please find below the English version of the summary and here the full version of the public comment in German.

The government draft for a German law to implement the DSA contains necessary and important rules to ensure proper enforcement of the EU’s new rules for platforms. A key part of the German law is the establishment of the German Digital Services Coordinator (DSC), which will be built at the Federal Network Agency (“Bundesnetzagentur”, BNetzA). The DSC plays an important role in the new structure of German and European platform oversight. It not only coordinates various authorities, but is also the point of contact for consumers, researchers from academia and civil society and platform providers. 

The updated version of the bill contains a number of points that have a positive impact on consumers, civil society and researchers and should therefore be retained: 

  • The complaint system now establishes the DSC as the standard point of contact regarding complaints about possible violations of the DSA. This is helpful for consumers, especially if important improvements on accessibility and usability come to fruition. 
  • The DSC has a research budget at its disposal, which is essential to conduct studies and create a better understanding of platforms and their business models. 
  • The list of lobby contacts mandated in the DSC’s activity report can create transparency. 
  • The evaluation of the law is a good opportunity to assess regulators’ cooperation. 

The following areas could still be improved

  • The DSC’s role in the European Board for Digital Services needs to be clarified. The participation of other competent authorities in the Board should not automatically mean that the DSC relinquishes its representation and voting rights there. 
  • It is a matter of course that the head of the DSC has the appropriate qualifications, but this should appear in the law itself, as was the case in the previous draft. 
  • It is promising that an advisory board is meant to support the DSC. However, it remains unclear in the bill what role the advisory board should/may assume. It is not specified to what extent the DSC must at least take note of the advisory board’s recommendations. 
Published by: 
Stiftung Neue Verantwortung
February 12, 2024

Dr. Julian Jaursch