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Conference’s notes - Getting Ready for the DSA: The Role of Trusted Flaggers for a Better Moderation of Platforms

In January 2024, the Arcom (French proto-Digital Services Coordinator) organized an event on “The role of trusted flaggers for a better moderation of platforms”.  

A representative of the Arcom opened the event by underlining the legal framework under which trusted flaggers will be designated. The DSC (Digital Services Coordinator) of each Member State has, under article 22 of the DSA (Digital Services Act), the prerogative to award the status of trusted flagger to selected entities so they can report illegal content to online platforms. This status targets, among others, associations, industry federations, trade associations and fact-checking organizations. It is, however, not open to individuals and administrative or regulatory authorities. Expertise, impartiality and resources (human and financial) were also mentioned as elements taken into account to award the status.

A representative of Coimisiún na Meán, the Irish proto-DSC, also attended the meeting and committed to engage with potential trusted flaggers before and after the entry into application of the DSA. The representative also announced the forthcoming publication of a guide for candidates detailing the application process. Lastly, both French and Irish proto-DSCs emphasized that they are working within a group of 16 proto-DSCs to provide precise indications on the trusted flagger status, including their rights and duties. The main objective of this group is to provide a harmonized framework for trusted flagger applicants across the European Union while exchanging ideas, solutions and challenges in this domain. 

This meeting was also the occasion for various non-institutional actors to share their perspective on this topical subject. Representatives of Very Large Online Platforms (Amazon, Facebook and Instagram) outlined their current initiatives aimed at addressing illicit content on their respective platforms (Trusted Partner Program for Facebook and Instagram as well as Project Zero for Amazon). The representatives pledged that their companies would include the new trusted flagger framework within their existing ecosystems. They took advantage of the meeting to ask for more information regarding the selection process and the technical details related to the implementation of the trusted flagger framework. 

The representative of Toy Industries of Europe (TIE), the industry federation of European toy manufacturers, took a stand in favor of intellectual property right holders being considered as trusted flaggers. While the Arcom argued that their applications should be considered with special scrutiny in view of their potential lack of neutrality, Toy Industries of Europe claimed that these actors are most competent when it comes to tackling the issue of counterfeiting goods. 

Additionally, ZARA, an Austrian NGO advocating against racism and hate speech, exposed the hardships they have been encountering on the ground. They detailed the challenges of working both with victims and big tech companies, especially when each platform often has its own rules and mechanisms. While ZARA’s representative stated that 50% of the reports filed by the association led to the removal of the incriminated content, they regretted that the requests often had to be repeated or followed up for the service provider to act upon them. ZARA’s representative also stressed a lack of transparency from the service providers regarding the criteria used to erase content. 

After these intensive presentations, some room was left for the Q&A session. Most of the discussions were oriented toward two topics: the articulation between the existing flaggers program and the potential designation of intellectual property right holders as trusted flaggers under the DSA.

Event programme
Event program