Thursday, 14 March 2024 17:06

EU Launches Probe into AliExpress Over Illegal Content Concerns

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The European Union has initiated a formal investigation into the Chinese e-commerce platform AliExpress, targeting potential violations related to illegal and explicit content. This move underscores the EU's intensified scrutiny over the digital practices of tech giants, particularly in the realm of generative artificial intelligence.

Investigating Compliance with the Digital Services Act

The European Commission announced on Thursday that it would conduct an investigation into AliExpress, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group, for possibly breaching the Digital Services Act (DSA). This legislation mandates more rigorous efforts from online platforms to eliminate illegal and harmful products from their offerings. The probe aims to assess AliExpress's adherence to DSA stipulations regarding risk management, content moderation, advertising transparency, trader traceability, and data accessibility for researchers.

Addressing a Range of Violations

The European Commission has raised significant concerns over the sale of counterfeit medicines, foods, and dietary supplements, as well as the accessibility of pornographic materials to minors on the AliExpress website. Additionally, the inquiry will explore how AliExpress manages product recommendations and complies with regulations demanding a searchable archive of advertisements on the platform.

The Broader EU Regulatory Landscape

This investigation into AliExpress follows a "request for information" issued to Alibaba Group Holding Limited in November of the previous year, marking the beginning phase of the probe. The EU's Digital Services Act, effective since last August, alongside the Digital Markets Act, represents a comprehensive regulatory approach targeting "very large" tech platforms operating within Europe, enforcing strict compliance requirements. Companies failing to adhere to these regulations face the possibility of fines up to six percent of their global turnover.

The EU's actions against AliExpress signal a broader commitment to regulating the digital space, ensuring that tech companies are held accountable for the content and products available on their platforms. As Thierry Breton, the European Commission's internal market commissioner, emphasized, the Digital Services Act aims to address more than just hate speech, disinformation, and cyberbullying. It's a clear indication that the EU expects tech firms to take greater responsibility for safeguarding users against illegal and harmful materials.