Joan Barata

Senior Legal Fellow, Future of Free Speech (Justitia)


The Digital Services Act (DSA) constitutes the new legal horizontal framework in the EU regarding the provision of online services. It formally came into force on 16 November 2022. However, a significant number of rules and obligations included in this Regulation will become enforceable after 17 February 2024, the deadline for Member States to designate national authorities (Digital Services Coordinators, DSC) in charge of overseeing their implementation.

One of these provisions is included in article 21 DSA, which recognizes a new right for users of online platform services to select a certified out-of-court dispute settlement body, i.e., an independent third party, in order to resolve disputes relating to decisions taken by the provider of the online platform service. These bodies need to be certified by national DSCs. Platforms’ decisions will be scrutinised by the mentioned bodies on grounds both of legality (determinations adopted because the information provided by the recipients constitutes illegal content) and private content policies (when users’ behaviour or content is considered incompatible with the terms and conditions of the provider). As it has already been pointed out, the DSA enlarges the market for dispute resolution, with the complainant being able to choose among different (private, and sometimes public) certified dispute resolution bodies.

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Joan Barata is a Senior Legal Fellow for The Future of Free Speech. He works on freedom of expression, media regulation, and intermediary liability issues.