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Navigating the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA): A Guide for Swiss Companies

The way businesses work and connect with customers has changed a lot in the digital age. To adapt to this changing landscape, the European Union (EU) has introduced the Digital Services Act (DSA), a ground-breaking regulatory framework designed to govern digital platforms and services and established a new set of rules to regulate these service providers.

While the DSA primarily targets EU Member States, its impact reaches far beyond European borders, affecting companies worldwide, including those in Switzerland. This article explores the implications of the DSA on Swiss businesses and offers a comprehensive step-by-step guide to determine its applicability to Swiss-based companies.

1. Understanding the Digital Services Act (DSA) and its scope

The DSA seeks to create a new regulatory structure for digital services, with a focus on online B2B and B2C “intermediary services” that facilitate the transmission or storage of third-party content for users. This includes providers of:

  • mere conduit services (e.g. internet exchange points, wireless access points, virtual private networks and DNS services);
  • caching services (e.g. content delivery networks, reverse proxies and content adaptation proxies);
  • hosting services (e.g. cloud computing and web hosting);
  • online platforms (e.g. social networks and online marketplaces); and
  • online search engines.

2. Impact on Swiss Companies

The goal of the DSA is to safeguard users within the EU. This means that it applies to online intermediary services, no matter where they are located, as long as they operate within the EU and have a “substantial connection” to the EU. A “substantial connection” is established if the service provider:

  • has an establishment in the EU; or
  • targets its activities towards one or more EU Member States; or
  • has a significant number of users in one or more EU Member States.

3. Checking DSA Applicability: A Step-by-Step Guide

However, in practical terms, how can Swiss companies determine if the DSA is applicable to their operations or not? To help you with this, we have created the following step-by-step guide. Please follow these steps to assess whether the DSA is applicable to your business operations.

(1) Does your digital service align with the DSA’s definitions of online intermediary services (as described above in section 1)?

(2) Is your business physically or legally established within an EU Member State?

(3) Does your business target EU users? Indications of this include offering content in EU languages, providing shipping options to EU countries, facilitating transactions in EUR, using an EU top-level domain, providing local advertising in a particular Member State, etc.

(4) Is your service accessed by EU residents? Analyse website traffic, customer database entries, user registrations, transaction data, etc.

If you answered “yes” to the first question and “yes” to any of the questions in steps 2, 3, and 4, it is likely that the DSA is applicable to your business. To get a clear understanding, it’s important to consult a legal expert and review the DSA requirements that specifically relate to your intermediary service.

4. Practical considerations

As of February 17, 2024, most of the DSA’s rules will be in effect. During this time, businesses that provide intermediary services should focus on making sure they follow the new regulations. If your company meets the DSA criteria, you’ll have specific responsibilities based on the services you offer and where you’re located.

Some important actions include reviewing your current terms and processes to make sure they meet the DSA’s requirements, such as procedures for handling notices and taking down content, verifying users’ identities for online marketplaces, sharing transparent reports, and more.

Remember that the DSA has set up penalties for companies that don’t follow the rules. The fines can differ based on the particular breach, but put simply, if a company is found to have broken the DSA, they could be fined up to 6% of their annual total turnover. Additionally, there are fines for providing incorrect, incomplete, or misleading information in response to a request. These fines can go up to 1% of the company’s yearly revenue.


Feel free to get in touch with us for a 20-minute free consultation. We can discuss how the DSA changes might affect your business and how we can help you get ready for them.


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