“EU Launches DSA Investigation on AliExpress, the Leading Online Marketplace”

The European Union has opened its third formal investigation of a very large platform under the Digital Services Act (DSA), with China’s AliExpress earning itself the dubious honor of being the first online marketplace to face formal probe by the Commission. Social media platforms X and TikTok are the two other very large online platforms (VLOPs) already under formal DSA investigation (since December and February, respectively). They said it will also look into transparency and safety concerns related to influencers’ use of AliExpress. It said it will also investigate how the influencer affiliate program is implemented to verify whether it complies with DSA transparency rules. There’s no fixed timeline for the EU to conclude a DSA investigation.

The European Union is once again turning its attention to major online platforms, this time setting its sights on China’s AliExpress. This marks the third formal investigation opened under the Digital Services Act (DSA) by the EU. This initiative, aimed at rebooting ecommerce rules within the bloc, demands that larger platforms undergo risk assessments and implement mitigation strategies in order to avoid hefty penalties – up to 6% of their global annual turnover – for any violations.

The Commission has previously launched investigations into two other very large online platforms (VLOPs) under the DSA: social media platforms X and TikTok. The probes, which began in December and February respectively, are ongoing.

The DSA is the bloc’s way of ensuring that these major platforms uphold important values and standards in their operations, and the EU is determined to enforce these rules effectively.

In a recent press release, the Commission stated that it suspects AliExpress of breaching DSA regulations in areas such as risk management and mitigation; content moderation and complaint handling; transparency in advertising and recommender systems; as well as tracing traders and data access for researchers.

AliExpress was designated as a VLOP in April of last year, alongside other notable marketplaces such as Amazon and Zalando.

Ensuring the safety of online marketplaces is a top priority for the Commission, along with cracking down on illegal hate speech, protecting children, and securing elections.

During a briefing with journalists, a Commission official elaborated on the concerns surrounding AliExpress, citing non-compliant products such as foods and medicines as possible risks, along with child safety concerns related to the distribution of pornography and sale of toys.

AliExpress also operates an affiliate program for social media influencers, offering them a commission for promoting products on the platform. However, we suspect that this program may be contributing to the sale of non-compliant and potentially dangerous items.

The official also noted that the Commission will be scrutinizing the transparency and safety measures in place for this influencer affiliate program, ensuring that it complies with DSA regulations.

The list of suspected breaches by AliExpress is extensive, covering ten articles (16, 20, 26, 27, 30, 34, 35, 38, 39, and 40).

Please note that this proceeding does not necessarily confirm any violations of the DSA at this time. Instead, it means that the Commission will be conducting a thorough investigation on the matter “as a matter of priority”. This formal step grants the EU additional powers, including the ability to impose interim measures if necessary.

The EU aims to uphold the values and standards of the DSA effectively and in a timely manner, but there is no specific timeline for completing an investigation of this nature.

The Commission has reached out to Alibaba, the parent company of AliExpress, for their comments on the matter.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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