June 12, 2024
  • EU will investigate AliExpress to check if they sell and promote illegal goods, distribute pornography without age verification, and have an online repository for their ads
  • AliExpress has agreed to comply with the investigation
  • No violations have been confirmed so far

EU Starts An Investigation Against AliExpress Under DSA Law

On Thursday, the EU launched an investigation against AliExpress for allegedly displaying pornographic content and illegal goods on its website.

The probe has been launched under its newly introduced Digital Services Act (DSA) that aims to achieve the following:

  • Maintain healthy competition in the market
  • Minimize the spread of misinformation online
  • Keep the quality of content in check

Read more: EU launches investigation into X’s content practices, can lead to hefty fines

Grounds of Investigation

The China-based e-commerce company will be investigated on the following grounds:

  • Content moderation and complaint handling
  • Transparency of advertising and recommender systems
  • Trader traceability
  • Researcher data access and risk management

In simple terms, the commission will check if AliExpress is doing enough to prevent the sale of illegal items such as fake medicines and supplements on its website.

According to rumors, AliExpress allows many affiliates and influencers to promote illegal goods which makes it all the more difficult for the users to make an informed decision.

AliExpress is also suspected of distributing pornographic material through its site without properly verifying the age of the users.

Additionally, the commission will also evaluate how AliExpress recommends products to their users and if they have an online database of the ads displayed on its site — a new requirement for large websites post the implementation of DSA.

If AliExpress is found violating DSA rules, it’ll have to pay 6% of its total global revenue in fines.

The process first started in November 2023 when AliExpress was asked by the EU to share more information about how they protect their users online.

Now that a formal investigation has been opened, the commission will try to gather more data through information requests, interviews, and inspections.

The commission has also assured that they are yet to find a violation. In fact, the whole probe was started on a suspicion that there ‘might’ be a violation of the new rules. So, at the time of writing, there is no proof that AliExpress isn’t compliant or safe for users.

What Does AliExpress Have to Say about This Investigation?

A spokesman from the company said “AliExpress is committed to creating a safe and compliant marketplace for all consumers.”

AliExpress is cooperating with EU and working with them to ensure they are meeting the requirements and continue to meet the standard set by the DSA even in the future.

The reason AliExpress has to undergo such heavy scrutiny is that it was labeled as ‘a very large platform’ under the DSA Act.

What’s a ‘Very Large’ Platform?

A ‘very large’ platform is one that receives an average of 45 million users per month – AliExpress reportedly receives more than 104 million users.

Owing to the large influence of such sites, they are put under extra scrutiny by the EU. In fact, before AliExpress, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok also had to go through a similar investigation.

Other tech companies that have been labeled as ‘very large’ platforms have been sent a request for information about their generative AI tools. The list includes Google, Microsoft, and Meta platforms, among others.

This will be a separate investigation where the EU will check if the aforementioned AI companies are diligently running risk assessments on their tools and if they have a risk mitigation plan in place in case something goes wrong. The companies have until April 3 to respond to EU’s request.

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