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Ministry of the Economy and Innovation: Safer digital services to be offered in Lithuania

Date

2023 11 29

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The European Union's Digital Services Act will enter into force in Lithuania on 17 February next year, ensuring safer procedures for the provision and regulation of digital services both in Lithuania and across the EU. This will benefit both businesses and consumers. 

The new requirements and obligations set out in this EU law are included in the draft Law on Information Society Services of the Republic of Lithuania, prepared by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and approved by the Government today.

Once in force, the draft law would provide Lithuanian businesses and citizens with safer online services, products and content. In particular, it would introduce new control measures for intermediary service providers, i.e. internet platforms, search engines, hosting and pod-hosting providers. These measures would include the introduction of an internal complaint handling system, an obligation to explain the reasons for blocking content, transparency reports, notifications and actions to remove illegal content.

The provisions of the legislation would also help to reduce the threat to society, civil discourse and democratic processes that the spread of disinformation or other illegal content can pose. This would have a positive impact on freedom of expression, reduce discrimination and ensure privacy and data protection. 

The draft law would also make e-commerce safer by imposing a new traceability obligation on e-marketplaces to collect information from traders using their services. They would also be obliged to allow traders to provide full information about their products. In addition, e-marketplaces would randomly check databases to see whether products offered by traders are illegal or dangerous, and inform consumers about illegal products being sold.

The law would also ensure better protection of personal data and prohibit online platforms from advertising to service users using sensitive data.  

The law also aims to protect minors. Once the law comes into force, online platforms accessible to them will have to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure a high level of privacy and security for minors. In addition, advertising to minors based on profiling will be prohibited.

The provisions of the EU law would also limit arbitrary moderation decisions by platforms and give users additional rights to take action against a platform if their content is unjustifiably removed. 

The new regulation would also give Lithuanian authorities more powers to ensure better protection of the public.

The most significant powers are proposed to be given to the Communications Regulatory Authority, which will be designated as the digital services coordinator. It would represent Lithuania in its relations with the European Commission and cooperate with the digital services coordinators of other Member States. The Communications Regulatory Authority would have the right to grant the status of trusted reporter to institutions, companies and non-governmental organisations.

The CRA would, together with the State Data Protection Inspectorate, analyse the risks posed by very large internet platforms and very large internet search engines on the basis of information submitted or publicly available.

The State Data Protection Inspectorate would also ensure the implementation of the provisions prohibiting profiling based on sensitive data such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation. 

The State Office for Consumer Protection would enforce provisions on product safety and consumer confusion on platforms. 

The Office of the Inspector of Journalists' Ethics would ensure the protection of minors online.

Consumers would be able to complain to the competent authorities in their areas of competence about the above infringements, for example if online platforms do not have a complaint handling system in place or if they remove content from traders without providing a reasonable explanation. 

The draft Law on Information Society Services of the Republic of Lithuania, which has been approved by the Government, still needs to be adopted by the Seimas.