The European Commission publishes guidance on DSA to help online platforms and search engines calculate average monthly active recipients

Published Date
Feb 7, 2023
The European Commission issued its non-binding guidance on 1 February 2023 to help providers of online platforms and search engines comply with the requirement of the Digital Services Act (DSA) to publish information on their average monthly user numbers. 

This information must be published by the providers in a publicly available section of their online interface by 17 February 2023, and at least once every six months thereafter. It should include information on the average monthly active recipients of their service in the EU, calculated as an average over the period of the past six months. The European Commission clarifies various aspects of this obligation. Although not mandatory in most of the cases, the European Commission encourages all such providers to communicate this information to the Commission's dedicated email address, at least during the initial period of implementing the DSA, and describe the methodology the providers used to calculate their average users.

The European Commission guidance explains that the concept of active recipient of the service does not necessarily coincide with the concept of registered user or a user that carried out a transaction on the platform. All recipients engaging with the service must be counted, for instance the users that:

  • view or listen to the content on platform (even where content is unrelated to the intermediary service, such as the provider's own content);
  • provide content in view of selling or advertising a product or service;
  • third party advertisers interact with, through platforms that request the provider to store and present their advertisement on their platform to other recipients; and
  • view listings on the platform allowing concluding of distance contracts with traders (even where the user at the end does not purchase a product or service), this includes searching for a product, clicking on search results or merely scrolling through the search results (even without logging in).

However, incidental use of the service by recipients of the services of other intermediary service providers that indirectly make content hosted by the platform provider available through linking or indexing by a provider of online search engine should not be included. In addition, providers that have the technical means to identify inauthentic users, such as bots or scrapers, may also discount such users.

The guidance highlights that an obligation to count active recipients of the service does not require nor permit providers to profile and track users in order to avoid "double counting".

Read the press release here and the guidance here.

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This content was originally published by Allen & Overy before the A&O Shearman merger