Amazon challenges EU Digital Services Act over online platform status

The label of ‘Very Large Online Platform’ under the EU’s new digital instruction would mean that the retail giant would have to regulate hate speech and disinformation.

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Becoming the first US enterprise to do so, Amazon has filed a petition to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) regarding its designation under the new EU Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force in November 2022. The retail and video-streaming company has asked the court to overturn its status as a ‘Very Large Online Platform’ (VLOP), which forces it to control hate speech and falsehoods.

In April of this year, the European Commission identified 17 ‘Very Large Online Platforms’ and two ‘Very Large Online Search Engines’ (VLOSEs) with at least 45 million monthly active users. These include other big media players like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Wikipedia and retailers like Alibaba and Zalando.

The companies must comply with new obligations aimed at ’empowering and protecting users online, including minors, by requiring the designated services to assess and mitigate their systemic risks and to provide robust content moderation tools.’

Amazon has claimed that since most of its revenue comes from retail and they are not retail leaders in any EU member states, they should not be designated as a VLOP. They also cited the fact that the main retailers in member states are not bound to the same DSA restrictions and are, therefore, subject to unequal treatment.

Earlier, Berlin-based retail competitor Zalando filed legal action, claiming that the European Commission ignored the primarily retail nature of its business model and that it does not pose a ‘systemic risk’ of transmitting dangerous or unlawful content from third parties.

Recently, we’ve seen the EU stand its ground when faced with large companies like Amazon, with Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton reminding Big Tech of the new digital rulebooks. What’s more, Amazon saw their appeal against allowing parallel antitrust investigations into seller treatment dismissed by the ECJ back in April.