Will the Digital Services Act continue protecting unscrupulous sellers and platforms? Call to IMCO Members of the European Parliament


Will the Digital Services Act continue protecting unscrupulous sellers and platforms? Call to IMCO Members of the European Parliament

12 October 2021
Four Paws
Ahead of the November IMCO vote on the Digital Services Act (DSA), Eurogroup for Animals together with 29 business, consumer and civil society organisations called the Members of the European Parliament to stand their ground and set unambiguous rules to tackle illegal activities and rogue traders of animals.

We call EU policy-makers to make platforms liable when:

  • They are aware of an illegal activity on their interfaces and do not take immediate action; or
  • They exert a decisive influence on the trader or the transaction; or
  • There is no party based in the EU that can be held liable for an illegal activity online on their platform; or
  • They do not comply with their own DSA due diligence obligations, such as the know-your-business customer obligation. 

Risks stemming from online illegal animal trade 

The illegal pet trade affects all  EU Member States,  hence only an EU-wide solution will be able to address a pan-European problem. The Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union workshop “Illegal Pet Trade: Game Over” confirmed that sentiment among EU Member States’ representatives, where 92% declared a need for EU-wide rules for the trade of pets, 93% stated that online platforms should be made responsible for verification of sellers’ information, and 90% indicated that only registered cats and dogs should be advertised. It is now for you to decide to what extent preserving public health, animal welfare and tax revenues matters.  

  1. The illegal animal trade bares all the characteristics of organised crime, such as drug or human trafficking, as mentioned in the EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime (2021-2025).
  2. Consumer fraud and violations of import rules: the pet’s health status, country of origin, vaccination status, breed and even existence can all be falsely presented to the consumer.
  3. Health of consumers at risk: rabies, a lethal zoonosis causing 59 000 deaths globally each year, has reappeared in countries such as the Netherlands or France due to the influx of unvaccinated puppies from Eastern European countries. Other risks include parasitic and bacterial infections with severe implications for human health, such as intestinal worm infestations and alveolar echinococcosis caused by Echinococcus multilocularis.

Five Steps to make online sale of animals safer for the European consumer through the Digital Services Act:

  1. Recognise "illegally traded animals"
  2. Introduce effective due diligence process for advertisement approval
  3. Apply proactive information verification process
  4. Not enable publications known to be false or misleading
  5. Ensure legal framework fit for long-term challenges and technological developments

For more details, check our briefing: