Provisions applicable to all providers of intermediary services
Points of contact for Member States’ authorities, the Commission and the Board
Providers of intermediary services shall designate a single point of contact to enable them to communicate directly, by electronic means, with Member States’ authorities, the Commission and the Board referred to in Article 61 for the application of this Regulation.
Providers of intermediary services shall make public the information necessary to easily identify and communicate with their single points of contact. That information shall be easily accessible, and shall be kept up to date.
Providers of intermediary services shall specify in the information referred to in paragraph 2 the official language or languages of the Member States which, in addition to a language broadly understood by the largest possible number of Union citizens, can be used to communicate with their points of contact, and which shall include at least one of the official languages of the Member State in which the provider of intermediary services has its main establishment or where its legal representative resides or is established.
Points of contact for recipients of the service
Providers of intermediary services shall designate a single point of contact to enable recipients of the service to communicate directly and rapidly with them, by electronic means and in a user-friendly manner, including by allowing recipients of the service to choose the means of communication, which shall not solely rely on automated tools.
In addition to the obligations provided under Directive 2000/31/EC, providers of intermediary services shall make public the information necessary for the recipients of the service in order to easily identify and communicate with their single points of contact. That information shall be easily accessible, and shall be kept up to date.
Providers of intermediary services which do not have an establishment in the Union but which offer services in the Union shall designate, in writing, a legal or natural person to act as their legal representative in one of the Member States where the provider offers its services.
Providers of intermediary services shall mandate their legal representatives for the purpose of being addressed in addition to or instead of such providers, by the Member States’ competent authorities, the Commission and the Board, on all issues necessary for the receipt of, compliance with and enforcement of decisions issued in relation to this Regulation. Providers of intermediary services shall provide their legal representative with necessary powers and sufficient resources to guarantee their efficient and timely cooperation with the Member States’ competent authorities, the Commission and the Board, and to comply with such decisions.
It shall be possible for the designated legal representative to be held liable for non-compliance with obligations under this Regulation, without prejudice to the liability and legal actions that could be initiated against the provider of intermediary services.
Providers of intermediary services shall notify the name, postal address, email address and telephone number of their legal representative to the Digital Services Coordinator in the Member State where that legal representative resides or is established. They shall ensure that that information is publicly available, easily accessible, accurate and kept up to date.
The designation of a legal representative within the Union pursuant to paragraph 1 shall not constitute an establishment in the Union.
Terms and conditions
Providers of intermediary services shall include information on any restrictions that they impose in relation to the use of their service in respect of information provided by the recipients of the service, in their terms and conditions. That information shall include information on any policies, procedures, measures and tools used for the purpose of content moderation, including algorithmic decision-making and human review, as well as the rules of procedure of their internal complaint handling system. It shall be set out in clear, plain, intelligible, user-friendly and unambiguous language, and shall be publicly available in an easily accessible and machine-readable format.
Providers of intermediary services shall inform the recipients of the service of any significant change to the terms and conditions.
Where an intermediary service is primarily directed at minors or is predominantly used by them, the provider of that intermediary service shall explain the conditions for, and any restrictions on, the use of the service in a way that minors can understand.
Providers of intermediary services shall act in a diligent, objective and proportionate manner in applying and enforcing the restrictions referred to in paragraph 1, with due regard to the rights and legitimate interests of all parties involved, including the fundamental rights of the recipients of the service, such as the freedom of expression, freedom and pluralism of the media, and other fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Charter.
Providers of very large online platforms and of very large online search engines shall provide recipients of services with a concise, easily-accessible and machine-readable summary of the terms and conditions, including the available remedies and redress mechanisms, in clear and unambiguous language.
Very large online platforms and very large online search engines within the meaning of Article 33 shall publish their terms and conditions in the official languages of all the Member States in which they offer their services.
Transparency reporting obligations for providers of intermediary services
Providers of intermediary services shall make publicly available, in a machine-readable format and in an easily accessible manner, at least once a year, clear, easily comprehensible reports on any content moderation that they engaged in during the relevant period. Those reports shall include, in particular, information on the following, as applicable:
- for providers of intermediary services, the number of orders received from Member States’ authorities including orders issued in accordance with Articles 9 and 10, categorised by the type of illegal content concerned, the Member State issuing the order, and the median time needed to inform the authority issuing the order, or any other authority specified in the order, of its receipt, and to give effect to the order;
- for providers of hosting services, the number of notices submitted in accordance with Article 16, categorised by the type of alleged illegal content concerned, the number of notices submitted by trusted flaggers, any action taken pursuant to the notices by differentiating whether the action was taken on the basis of the law or the terms and conditions of the provider, the number of notices processed by using automated means and the median time needed for taking the action;
- for providers of intermediary services, meaningful and comprehensible information about the content moderation engaged in at the providers’ own initiative, including the use of automated tools, the measures taken to provide training and assistance to persons in charge of content moderation, the number and type of measures taken that affect the availability, visibility and accessibility of information provided by the recipients of the service and the recipients’ ability to provide information through the service, and other related restrictions of the service; the information reported shall be categorised by the type of illegal content or violation of the terms and conditions of the service provider, by the detection method and by the type of restriction applied;
- for providers of intermediary services, the number of complaints received through the internal complaint-handling systems in accordance with the provider’s terms and conditions and additionally, for providers of online platforms, in accordance with Article 20, the basis for those complaints, decisions taken in respect of those complaints, the median time needed for taking those decisions and the number of instances where those decisions were reversed;
- any use made of automated means for the purpose of content moderation, including a qualitative description, a specification of the precise purposes, indicators of the accuracy and the possible rate of error of the automated means used in fulfilling those purposes, and any safeguards applied.
Paragraph 1 shall not apply to providers of intermediary services that qualify as micro or small enterprises as defined in Recommendation 2003/361/EC and which are not very large online platforms within the meaning of the Regulation.
The Commission may adopt implementing acts to lay down templates concerning the form, content and other details of reports pursuant to paragraph 1 of this Article, including harmonised reporting periods. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 88.
Additional provisions applicable to providers of hosting services, including online platforms
Notice and action mechanisms
Providers of hosting services shall put mechanisms in place to allow any individual or entity to notify them of the presence on their service of specific items of information that the individual or entity considers to be illegal content. Those mechanisms shall be easy to access and user-friendly, and shall allow for the submission of notices exclusively by electronic means.
The mechanisms referred to in paragraph 1 shall be such as to facilitate the submission of sufficiently precise and adequately substantiated notices. To that end, the providers of hosting services shall take the necessary measures to enable and to facilitate the submission of notices containing all of the following elements:
- a sufficiently substantiated explanation of the reasons why the individual or entity alleges the information in question to be illegal content;
- a clear indication of the exact electronic location of that information, such as the exact URL or URLs, and, where necessary, additional information enabling the identification of the illegal content adapted to the type of content and to the specific type of hosting service;
- the name and email address of the individual or entity submitting the notice, except in the case of information considered to involve one of the offences referred to in Articles 3 to 7 of Directive 2011/93/EU;
- a statement confirming the bona fide belief of the individual or entity submitting the notice that the information and allegations contained therein are accurate and complete.
Notices referred to shall be considered to give rise to actual knowledge or awareness for the purposes of Article 6 in respect of the specific item of information concerned where they allow a diligent provider of hosting services to identify the illegality of the relevant activity or information without a detailed legal examination.
Where the notice contains the electronic contact information of the individual or entity that submitted it, the provider of hosting services shall, without undue delay, send a confirmation of receipt of the notice to that individual or entity.
The provider shall also, without undue delay, notify that individual or entity of its decision in respect of the information to which the notice relates, providing information on the possibilities for redress in respect of that decision.
Providers of hosting services shall process any notices that they receive under the mechanisms referred to in paragraph 1 and take their decisions in respect of the information to which the notices relate, in a timely, diligent, non-arbitrary and objective manner. Where they use automated means for that processing or decision-making, they shall include information on such use in the notification referred to.
Statement of reasons
Providers of hosting services shall provide a clear and specific statement of reasons to any affected recipients of the service for any of the following restrictions imposed on the ground that the information provided by the recipient of the service is illegal content or incompatible with their terms and conditions:
- any restrictions of the visibility of specific items of information provided by the recipient of the service, including removal of content, disabling access to content, or demoting content;
- suspension, termination or other restriction of monetary payments;
- suspension or termination of the provision of the service in whole or in part;
- suspension or termination of the recipient of the service’s account.
The above only applies where the relevant electronic contact details are known to the provider. It applies at the latest from the date that the restriction is imposed, regardless of why or how it was imposed. It does not apply where the information is deceptive high-volume commercial content.
The statement of reasons referred to above must least contain the following information:
- information on whether the decision entails either the removal of, the disabling of access to, the demotion of or the restriction of the visibility of the information, or the suspension or termination of monetary payments related to that information, or imposes other measures referred to in paragraph 1 with regard to the information, and, where relevant, the territorial scope of the decision and its duration;
- the facts and circumstances relied on in taking the decision, including, where relevant, information on whether the decision was taken pursuant to a notice submitted in accordance with Article 16 or based on voluntary own-initiative investigations and, where strictly necessary, the identity of the notifier;
- where applicable, information on the use made of automated means in taking the decision, including information on whether the decision was taken in respect of content detected or identified using automated means;
- where the decision concerns allegedly illegal content, a reference to the legal ground relied on and explanations as to why the information is considered to be illegal content on that ground;
- where the decision is based on the alleged incompatibility of the information with the terms and conditions of the provider of hosting services, a reference to the contractual ground relied on and explanations as to why the information is considered to be incompatible with that ground;
- clear and user-friendly information on the possibilities for redress available to the recipient of the service in respect of the decision, in particular, where applicable through internal complaint-handling mechanisms, out-of-court dispute settlement and judicial redress.
The information provided by the providers of hosting services in accordance with this Article shall be clear and easily comprehensible and as precise and specific as reasonably possible under the given circumstances. The information shall, in particular, be such as to reasonably allow the recipient of the service concerned to effectively exercise the possibilities for redress referred to.
This part does not apply to any orders referred to in Article 9.
Notification of suspicions of criminal offences
Where a provider of hosting services becomes aware of any information giving rise to a suspicion that a criminal offence involving a threat to the life or safety of a person or persons has taken place, is taking place or is likely to take place, it shall promptly inform the law enforcement or judicial authorities of the Member State or Member States concerned of its suspicion and provide all relevant information available.
Where the provider of hosting services cannot identify with reasonable certainty the Member State concerned, it shall inform the law enforcement authorities of the Member State in which it is established or where its legal representative resides or is established or inform Europol, or both.
For the purpose of this Article, the Member State concerned shall be the Member State in which the offence is suspected to have taken place, to be taking place or to be likely to take place, or the Member State where the suspected offender resides or is located, or the Member State where the victim of the suspected offence resides or is located.
Additional provisions applicable to providers of online platforms
Exclusion for micro and small enterprises
This part with the exception of Article 24(3) thereof, does not apply to providers of online platforms that qualify as micro or small enterprises as defined in Recommendation 2003/361/EC.
This part with the exception of Article 24(3) thereof, shall not apply to providers of online platforms that previously qualified for the status of a micro or small enterprise as defined in Recommendation 2003/361/EC during the 12 months following their loss of that status , except when they are very large online platforms in accordance with Article 33.
By derogation from paragraph 1 of this Article, this part applies to providers of online platforms that have been designated as very large online platforms in accordance with Article 33, irrespective of whether they qualify as micro or small enterprises.
Internal complaint-handling system
Providers of online platforms shall provide recipients of the service, including individuals or entities that have submitted a notice, for a period of at least six months following the decision referred to in this paragraph, with access to an effective internal complaint-handling system that enables them to lodge complaints, electronically and free of charge, against the decision taken by the provider of the online platform upon the receipt of a notice or against the following decisions taken by the provider of the online platform on the grounds that the information provided by the recipients constitutes illegal content or is incompatible with its terms and conditions:
- decisions whether or not to remove or disable access to or restrict visibility of the information;
- decisions whether or not to suspend or terminate the provision of the service, in whole or in part, to the recipients;
- decisions whether or not to suspend or terminate the recipients’ account;
- decisions whether or not to suspend, terminate or otherwise restrict the ability to monetise information provided by the recipients.
The period of at least six months referred to, shall start on the day on which the recipient of the service is informed about the decision.
Providers of online platforms shall ensure that their internal complaint-handling systems are easy to access, user-friendly and enable and facilitate the submission of sufficiently precise and adequately substantiated complaints.
Providers of online platforms shall handle complaints submitted through their internal complaint-handling system in a timely, non-discriminatory, diligent and non-arbitrary manner. Where a complaint contains sufficient grounds for the provider of the online platform to consider that its decision not to act upon the notice is unfounded or that the information to which the complaint relates is not illegal and is not incompatible with its terms and conditions, or contains information indicating that the complainant’s conduct does not warrant the measure taken, it shall reverse its decision referred to in paragraph 1 without undue delay.
Providers of online platforms shall inform complainants without undue delay of their reasoned decision in respect of the information to which the complaint relates and of the possibility of out-of-court dispute settlement provided for in Article 21 and other available possibilities for redress.
Providers of online platforms shall ensure that the decisions, are taken under the supervision of appropriately qualified staff, and not solely on the basis of automated means.
Out-of-court dispute settlement
Recipients of the service, including individuals or entities that have submitted notices, addressed by the decisions referred to, shall be entitled to select any out-of-court dispute settlement body that has been certified in accordance with paragraph 3 of this Article in order to resolve disputes relating to those decisions, including complaints that have not been resolved by means of the internal complaint-handling system referred to in that Article.
Providers of online platforms shall ensure that information about the possibility for recipients of the service to have access to an out-of-court dispute settlement, as referred to in the first subparagraph, is easily accessible on their online interface, clear and user-friendly.
The first subparagraph is without prejudice to the right of the recipient of the service concerned to initiate, at any stage, proceedings to contest those decisions by the providers of online platforms before a court in accordance with the applicable law.
Both parties shall engage, in good faith, with the selected certified out-of-court dispute settlement body with a view to resolving the dispute.
Providers of online platforms may refuse to engage with such out-of-court dispute settlement body if a dispute has already been resolved concerning the same information and the same grounds of alleged illegality or incompatibility of content.
The certified out-of-court dispute settlement body shall not have the power to impose a binding settlement of the dispute on the parties.
Role of Coordinator
The Digital Services Coordinator of the Member State where the out-of-court dispute settlement body is established shall, for a maximum period of five years, which may be renewed, certify the body, at its request, where the body has demonstrated that it meets all of the following conditions:
- it is impartial and independent, including financially independent, of providers of online platforms and of recipients of the service provided by providers of online platforms, including of individuals or entities that have submitted notices;
- it has the necessary expertise in relation to the issues arising in one or more particular areas of illegal content, or in relation to the application and enforcement of terms and conditions of one or more types of online platform, allowing the body to contribute effectively to the settlement of a dispute;
- its members are remunerated in a way that is not linked to the outcome of the procedure;
- the out-of-court dispute settlement that it offers is easily accessible, through electronic communications technology and provides for the possibility to initiate the dispute settlement and to submit the requisite supporting documents online;
- it is capable of settling disputes in a swift, efficient and cost-effective manner and in at least one of the official languages of the institutions of the Union;
- the out-of-court dispute settlement that it offers takes place in accordance with clear and fair rules of procedure that are easily and publicly accessible, and that comply with applicable law, including this Article.
The Digital Services Coordinator shall, where applicable, specify in the certificate:
- the particular issues to which the body’s expertise relates, as referred to in point (b) of the first subparagraph; and
- the official language or languages of the institutions of the Union in which the body is capable of settling disputes, as referred to.
Certified out-of-court dispute settlement bodies shall report to the Digital Services Coordinator that certified them, on an annual basis, on their functioning, specifying at least the number of disputes they received, the information about the outcomes of those disputes, the average time taken to resolve them and any shortcomings or difficulties encountered. They shall provide additional information at the request of that Digital Services Coordinator.
Digital Services Coordinators shall, every two years, draw up a report on the functioning of the out-of-court dispute settlement bodies that they certified. That report shall in particular:
- list the number of disputes that each certified out-of-court dispute settlement body has received annually;
- indicate the outcomes of the procedures brought before those bodies and the average time taken to resolve the disputes;
- identify and explain any systematic or sectoral shortcomings or difficulties encountered in relation to the functioning of those bodies;
- identify best practices concerning that functioning;
- make recommendations as to how to improve that functioning, where appropriate.
Certified out-of-court dispute settlement bodies shall make their decisions available to the parties within a reasonable period of time and no later than 90 calendar days after the receipt of the complaint. In the case of highly complex disputes, the certified out-of-court dispute settlement body may, at its own discretion, extend the 90 calendar day period for an additional period that shall not exceed 90 days, resulting in a maximum total duration of 180 days.
If the out-of-court dispute settlement body decides the dispute in favour of the recipient of the service, including the individual or entity that has submitted a notice, the provider of the online platform shall bear all the fees charged by the out-of-court dispute settlement body, and shall reimburse that recipient, including the individual or entity, for any other reasonable expenses that it has paid in relation to the dispute settlement. If the out-of-court dispute settlement body decides the dispute in favour of the provider of the online platform, the recipient of the service, including the individual or entity, shall not be required to reimburse any fees or other expenses that the provider of the online platform paid or is to pay in relation to the dispute settlement, unless the out-of-court dispute settlement body finds that that recipient manifestly acted in bad faith.
The fees charged by the out-of-court dispute settlement body to the providers of online platforms for the dispute settlement shall be reasonable and shall in any event not exceed the costs incurred by the body. For recipients of the service, the dispute settlement shall be available free of charge or at a nominal fee.
Certified out-of-court dispute settlement bodies shall make the fees, or the mechanisms used to determine the fees, known to the recipient of the service, including to the individuals or entities that have submitted a notice, and to the provider of the online platform concerned, before engaging in the dispute settlement.
Member State Requirements
Member States may establish out-of-court dispute settlement bodies for the purposes of paragraph 1 or support the activities of some or all out-of-court dispute settlement bodies that they have certified.
Member States shall ensure that any of their activities undertaken under the first subparagraph do not affect the ability of their Digital Services Coordinators to certify the bodies concerned.
A Digital Services Coordinator that has certified an out-of-court dispute settlement body shall revoke that certification if it determines, following an investigation either on its own initiative or on the basis of the information received by third parties, that the out-of-court dispute settlement body no longer meets the conditions set out in paragraph 3. Before revoking that certification, the Digital Services Coordinator shall afford that body an opportunity to react to the findings of its investigation and its intention to revoke the out-of-court dispute settlement body’s certification.
Digital Services Coordinators shall notify to the Commission the out-of-court dispute settlement bodies that they have certified in accordance with paragraph 3, including where applicable the specifications referred to in the second subparagraph of that paragraph, as well as the out-of-court dispute settlement bodies the certification of which they have revoked. The Commission shall publish a list of those bodies, including those specifications, on a dedicated website that is easily accessible, and keep it up to date.
This Article is without prejudice to Directive 2013/11/EU and alternative dispute resolution procedures and entities for consumers established under that Directive.