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Layer two: Providers of hosting services

Hosting services are defined in the DSA as services that consist of the storage of information provided by, and at the request of, a recipient of the service (such as cloud service providers, online marketplaces, social media, app stores).

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In addition to the obligations applicable to all providers of intermediary services (layer one), the providers of hosting services must:

  • Implement a mechanism that allows third parties to notify the presence of allegedly illegal content. Notices are considered to give rise to actual knowledge in respect of the specific item of information where they allow a diligent provider of hosting services to identify the illegality of the relevant activity or information without a detailed legal examination, but if the provider has actual knowledge, the liability exemption no longer applies;
  • Inform the person who filed a notice of the decision taken on the basis of the notice and the available redress mechanisms.
  • Provide a statement of reasons to the relevant user if a provider decides to remove information or suspend or terminate the provision of the services (or take any similar decision). This statement of reasons must be as precise and specific as reasonably possible. The DSA lists the minimum content of such a statement, which must include the facts giving rise to the decision, the legal rule or the contractual term that was breached and the available redress mechanisms;
  • In addition to the above, also inform the national law enforcement or judicial authorities of any information giving rise to suspicions of serious criminal offences involving a threat to the life or safety of persons.

A layered approach to imposing obligations

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Layer one: Providers of intermediary services

This covers a broad range of digital service providers in the EU including internet service providers, content distribution networks, web-based messaging services and wireless local area networks.

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Layer three: Online platforms and market places

Providers of intermediary services that consist of the storage and public dissemination of users’ information.

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Layer four: Very large online platforms and search engines

Online platforms or search engines that have 45 million or more active monthly users in the EU.

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