Right to lodge a complaint

Recipients of intermediary services (for example, services provided by online platforms and search engines) have the right to lodge a complaint against providers of intermediary services alleging an infringement of the provisions of the Digital Services Act (DSA). Complaints, which may also be submitted by organisations mandated to exercise the rights of recipients on their behalf, should be submitted to the Digital Services Coordinator (DSC) of the Member State in which the recipient of the service is located or established1.

What you can complain about

Recipients of intermediary services may lodge a complaint when they believe that the intermediary service provider is acting in infringement of the provisions of the DSA or is failing to comply with its obligations under the DSA.

Therefore, recipients of intermediary services canlodge complaints, in particular, about:

  • Decisions by intermediary service providers on content removal2;
  • Decisions by intermediary service providers not to remove illegal content3;
  • Distance contracts, particularly where the conditions under which products and services are offered to consumers through online platforms lack of transparency4;
  • Misleading and/or discriminatory advertising and/or publicity5;
  • Online recommendation systems based on profiling6;
  • Terms and conditions governing the provision of intermediary services7 and codes of conduct for intermediary service providers8;
  • Difficulty contacting or complaining about an online platform9.

This is not an exhaustive list of matters about which complaints can be made. For more information about the obligations of intermediary service providers, consult the DSA.

How to submit complaints

Recipients of intermediary services should submit complaints in writing to ANACOM, as DSC in Portugal, by email to dsc@anacom.pt.

The complaint should include:

a) Information about the person making the complaint – name and email address;

b) Information about the intermediary service that is the object of the complaint, indicating the Internet address (URL);

c) Description of the situation giving rise to the complaint, including an explanation of how the applicable rules have not been complied with, and, if possible, proof of the alleged facts;

d) A copy of any correspondence between the person making the complaint and the intermediary service provider regarding the situation that is the object of the complaint.

What happens when a complaint is made

Upon receiving a complaint, ANACOM analyses it to verify its admissibility within the scope of the DSA.

This analysis also assesses whether the complaint should be forwarded to other national competent authorities or to the Digital Services Coordinator in another Member State, in which the intermediary service provider concerned is established.

As part of the complaint handling process, a formal investigation may be opened, which will be carried out under the responsibility of the DSC of the Member State in which the intermediary service provider has its principal establishment, and in conjunction with other competent national entities, if applicable.

Whenever there is a need to transmit a complaint to the DSC of another Member State, the personal data of the person making the complaint is also transmitted, and this coordinator takes responsible for the processing and protection of data under the General Data Protection Regulatio https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016R0679.

Complaints are transmitted using the information-sharing system set up by the European Commission10.

See the Download file Privacy Policy defined by the European Commission on the processing of personal data in this information-sharing system, particularly in the context of the transmission of complaints.

Complainant rights

During the complaint process, the person making the complaint has the right to be heard and to receive appropriate information about the status of their complaint in accordance with national law11.

Questions regarding the Digital Services Act can be sent to: dsc@anacom.pt.

Complaints to intermediary service providers

Intermediary service providers are required to maintain internal complaints handling systems that recipients of their services can use to resolve problems arising from provision of their services. Online platforms are obliged to maintain an internal system to manage complaints made against decisions on illegal content or content that is incompatible with the provider’s terms and conditions, including the suspension or closure of service recipient accounts12.

- How to report online illegal content

Intermediary service providers, especially providers of hosting services, are required to put in place a mechanism that allows users to notify it of any content that they consider to be illegal. These mechanisms must be easy to access and use and must allow the submission of notifications electronically.

Through its notification mechanism, intermediary service providers must make it possible for users to supply the following data, so that the hosting service has sufficient information for the notification process:

  • An explanation of why the user considers the content to be illegal
  • Location of the content (exact URL or URLs)
  • The user’s name and email address, except in cases where content involves the sexual abuse of minors.
  • A declaration by which the user confirms their honest conviction that the notice is accurate and complete.

In the event that the user considers a provider of hosting services to be in infringement of its obligations by failing to make a notification mechanism available, a complaint may be sent to ANACOM at dsc@anacom.pt.

- How to complain about harmful (but not illegal) content

Under the DSA, platforms are legally required to have rules in place on acceptable content and to include these rules in their terms and conditions or community rules. They are also required to enforce these rules, including through the provision of mechanisms for users to report content considered to be in breach.

Some social media platforms allow users to report inaccurate content or disinformation. However, since disinformation is not necessarily illegal, obligations in respect of illegal content do not apply to disinformation, unless the content is illegal on other grounds.

Large social media platforms (VLOPs) are required to assess a series of risks which their services may represent. These include risks to civic discourse and electoral processes, as well as to public health and public security. These platforms are also required to put measures in place to mitigate said risks. This process will cover risks posed by certain types of disinformation and inaccurate information.

These risk assessments and mitigation measures, including those in respect of disinformation and inaccurate information , will be assessed by the European Commission.

1 Article 53 of the DSA.
2 Articles 20 and 53 of the DSA.
3 Articles 20 and 53 of the DSA.
4 Article 30 of the DSA.
5 Article 26 of the DSA.
6 Articles 27 and 38 of the DSA.
7 Article 14 of the DSA.
8 Articles 45 to 47 of the DSA.
9 Articles 16 and 20 of the DSA.
10 Article 85 of the DSA.
11 Article 53 of the DSA.
12 Article 20 of the DSA.