At the end of April 2022, the EU reached a political agreement on the Digital Services Act, which should create a safer online environment for European citizens and consumers. The Rathenau Instituut has conducted research into harmful and immoral behaviour online. With a unique overview of harmful behaviour online, and of the mechanisms on the internet that facilitate this behaviour, this report helps platform companies and regulators to take their responsibility under the DSA.
The DSA introduces an obligation for very large platforms to analyse the systemic risks they create and to take measures to counter and prevent these risks. The DSA also introduces a monitoring system consisting of national Digital Services Coordinators and a European authority to monitor and enforce compliance with the DSA.
In Harmful Behaviour Online, the Rathenau Instituut presents a unique overview of 22 phenomena of online behaviour that can harm the fundamental rights of European citizens. From cyberbullying, phishing, cyberaddiction, or cryptofraud, to revenge porn, extreme challenges, paedo-hunting, shaming, and cancelling. The report provides insight into the nature and extent of online harmful behaviour in the Netherlands, and the online mechanisms that facilitate this behaviour.
These insights provide platforms with direction for their management of systemic risks and ways to address these risks. The report also provides enforcement agencies with independent information to judge the quality of measures taken by online platforms.
The Rathenau Instituut supports the formation of public and political opinion on socially relevant aspects of science and technology. The researchers held interviews with policy makers, scholars, and professional practitioners. A total of 56 experts contributed to the study. In addition, a literature study was carried out.
‘The report shows how widespread the problem of online harmful behavior is and how the online environment contributes to this behaviour’, says Mariëtte van Huijstee, research coordinator at the Rathenau Instituut. ‘Now it is up to the online platforms and Digital Services Coördinators to ambitiously implement the DSA. We expect our report to be helpful in this regard. We will be closely monitoring the effectiveness of the DSA in realising a safe online environment for European citizens.’