The Digital Services Act brings more regulation at EU level for large platforms. But how well positioned are Amazon, Facebook and Co. here? The consumer advice center has checked this and criticizes the contact options provided by online platforms.
The EU launched the Digital Services Act (DSA) in April 2022. With the new regulation, internet companies will be subject to stricter regulation.
Of course, this primarily includes the large social networks such as Instagram, TikTok and Co. But Amazon and Google are also subject to the DSA. The EU sets the limit here at 45 million active users per month.
The first parts of the DSA came into force on August 25th. The consumer advice center took this deadline as an opportunity to take a closer look at the major platforms.
The consumer advice center analyzes online platforms
After its investigation, the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (VZBV) comes to the conclusion that consumer protection “continues to be neglected by large online platforms”. The association sees a particular need for action regarding contact options and recommendation systems on online platforms.
“Consumers must be able to rely on being protected from unfair practices on online platforms,” explains VZBV board member Ramona Pop. The platform operators would have had enough time to implement the new requirements.
The VZBV has now carried out the first checks, more will follow. If there are still problems with implementation, the association will use the opportunity to issue warnings to companies that violate the rules.
Contact options on online platforms have deficiencies
The Digital Services Act regulates, among other things, the accessibility of large online platforms. They must therefore provide a central contact for their users. This must also be easily accessible.
There are contact options on the examined platforms of Amazon, Facebook, TikTok and Apple’s App Store. However, these are “not always easily accessible from the VZBV’s perspective”.
In some cases, up to five clicks are necessary to activate the chat for customers or to find an email address or telephone number. On the way there, the providers would rather come up with self-help tips.
VZBV also criticizes the lack of transparency in recommendation systems
According to the DSA, platform operators must clearly explain how recommendations are created on their sites. Users must be able to adjust the parameters for this.
According to the VZBV, Amazon, Booking.com, Google Search and Zalando did not implement these requirements or did not implement them sufficiently as of the deadline.
At Amazon, Google Search and Zalando there is no information in the terms and conditions about the parameters of their recommendation systems. A possible adjustment is also not apparent. At Booking.com there is at least a further link in the terms and conditions with information about the recommendation system.