The current lockdown of European countries confirmed the importance of having highly efficient digital services and online platforms to keep countries, their societies, and economies, running at a basic level. The digital sector is part of the solution at the moment, and without it, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis would have been much worse.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed serious shortcomings in the way platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon are regulated in Europe. The system has cracked, exposing the vulnerability of European consumers and users to illegal practices online, such as selling of fake or illegal products or imposing abusive price increases on essential items.
Problems related to illegal practices and unsafe products online concern not only scams related to the COVID-19 crisis but also many other areas such as toys, textiles, cosmetics and electric appliances which flow into the EU internal market putting consumer safety in jeopardy.
The upcoming Digital Services Act must prioritize enhanced consumer protection and transparency requirements on digital platforms. The Union should use this opportunity to champion digital technologies and services in compliance with a set of ethical principles that reflect European values and that ultimately protect European consumers, users, and businesses.