The Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act (‘DSA’)1 is a cornerstone of the EU's digital strategy, aiming to create a safer and more accountable online environment. It introduces comprehensive rules for providers of intermediary services, such as social media platforms and online marketplaces, demanding greater transparency and responsibility in handling illegal content. By enforcing these regulations, the DSA aims to protect users and their rights online, ensuring digital spaces across the European Union operate under a uniform framework.

In its capacity as the designated Digital Services Coordinator (DSC) for Malta, the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) enforces this regulation in Malta.

Under the DSA, providers of intermediary services (hereafter ‘providers’) are entities that offer network infrastructure, hosting services, and online platforms, facilitating user access to goods, services, or content. These providers are not liable for the information transmitted or stored, provided they are unaware of its illegal nature, or on becoming aware of its illegal nature, act expeditiously to remove or disable access. The DSA refines this principle by setting clear obligations and standards for these providers to ensure a safer online environment, balancing the need for open digital spaces with the protection of users online.

The DSA applies to all intermediary services that connect users (consumers or businesses) to goods, services, or content, including:

  • Online marketplaces
  • Social networks
  • Content-sharing platforms
  • Hosting providers

Any provider serving the EU, regardless of its establishment location, falls within the scope of the DSA.

The DSA does not hold providers liable for content hosted or transmitted through their services. This means that while providers are generally not responsible for monitoring the information they transmit or store, their exemption from liability is contingent upon their adherence to specific due diligence obligations outlined by the DSA. This framework fosters the balance between a safe and open space for users, and a business environment that is dynamic and conducive to innovation.

The DSA does not determine what constitutes illegal content. Rather, it focuses on how providers should manage content on their platforms. The DSA sets obligations that providers must follow when handling illegal content notifications and orders from public authorities, ensuring a cohesive approach to content management and user safety.

It's important to highlight that the DSA does not determine what constitutes illegal content. Rather, it focuses on how providers should manage content on their platforms. The DSA sets obligations that providers must follow when handling illegal content notifications and orders from public authorities, ensuring a cohesive approach to content management and user safety.

The MCA’s responsibilities as Malta’s DSC include ensuring that providers established in Malta comply with their obligations under the DSA, conducting supervisory activities, and handling complaints related to the DSA. The MCA acts as a central point of contact for both providers and users, facilitating a balanced and effective approach to digital service regulation. In addition, the MCA participates in the Digital Services Board led by the European Commission, which Board is responsible for overseeing compliance with the Digital Services Act throughout the EU.

Under the DSA, providers of hosting services including platforms are required to have in place mechanisms that enable you to report illegal content (Article 16 of the DSA). This ensures that all hosting providers offer a clear and accessible way for users to report content they believe to be illegal or that breaches the provider’s own terms or guidelines.

Upon submitting a report, you are entitled to receive timely updates about the progress and outcome of your report. This transparency is a key provision of the DSA, aimed at keeping users informed and involved in the content moderation process. If the provider’s decision regarding your complaint about the alleged illegal content does not align with your expectations or if you believe it was inadequately addressed, you have the right to seek remedial action. This could involve escalating your complaint within the provider or pursuing external dispute resolution mechanisms.

Right to Lodge a Complaint under Article 53 of the DSA

If you believe that a provider has breached a provision of the DSA, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the MCA as Malta’s designated DSC.

This form should be used to report instances of non-compliance with the Digital Services Act (hereafter ‘DSA’) by a provider.

Register as a Provider of Intermediary Services (Hosting)

Pursuant to article 8 of the Digital Services (Designation and Enforcement) Order, 2024 all hosting providers are required to register with the MCA. Such registration empowers the MCA to execute its regulatory oversight functions effectively.

Intermediary Service Providers that operate as platforms, facilitating both hosting and dissemination of content (excluding small and micro enterprises), will have their details shared with Agora. Agora is the IT system managed by the European Commission, that will assist in the processing of Statements of Reasons as stipulated under Articles 17 and 24(5) of the DSA.

Express Interest to Act as a Trusted Flagger under Article 22 of the DSA

Entities interested in becoming Trusted Flaggers with expertise in identifying illegal content, are encouraged to contact the MCA. Trusted Flaggers are recognised entities with expertise and a track record in identifying illegal content online. These are given priority in the content review process by platforms to ensure swift action on potentially harmful or illegal online material. For details on the application process and eligibility criteria, please communicate with the MCA.

Become Certified as an Out-of-Court (OOC) Dispute Resolution Provider under Article 21 of the DSA

Entities interested in becoming certified as Out-of-Court (OOC) dispute resolution providers under Article 21 of the DSA should contact the MCA directly. The certification process includes meeting specific criteria related to dispute resolution capabilities, expertise in digital services, and compliance with DSA.

Become a ‘Vetted Researcher’ under Article 50(8) of the DSA

Researchers interested in accessing online platform data for studies aimed at understanding and addressing the challenges posed by digital services, under Article 50(8) of the DSA, should directly contact the MCA. To qualify, applicants must showcase a clear research purpose, adhere to high ethical standards, and demonstrate the ability to securely manage sensitive data.

Resources and Further Reading

Contact Information

For more information or assistance, please contact the MCA on

1The Digital Services Act is the short title of Regulation (EU) 2022/2065 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 October 2022 on a Single Market for Digital Services and amending Directive 2000/31/EC.