EU opens probe against AliExpress over illegal content


The European Commission has started formal proceedings against AliExpress, an online marketplace owned by China’s tech giant Alibaba, for potentially violating its new Digital Services Act (DSA).

The EU’s executive branch said AliExpress may have breached the DSA “in areas linked to the management and mitigation of risks, to content moderation and the internal complaint handling mechanism, to the transparency of advertising and recommender systems, to the traceability of traders and to data access for researchers.”

It said the investigation would focus on whether AliExpress failed to properly enforce its own terms of service that prohibit products posing risks to consumers’ health such as fake medicines and food, as well as dietary supplements.

The probe will also look into whether AliExpress was involved in any violations that allowed minors to access pornographic material, which the European Commission said consumers can still find on the platform.

AliExpress may lack effective measures to prevent the dissemination of illegal content, the European Commission said. It also questioned whether the platform was doing enough to prevent intentional manipulation through “hidden links” and “influencers promoting illegal or harmful products” through its affiliate program.

Other areas of the probe include an obligation under the DSA for the e-commerce site to provide an effective internal complaint-handling system and a searchable and reliable repository for ads that are provided on the platform. Among other things, the investigators will also address how AliExpress recommends its products to users.

The probe against AliExpress is the third formal investigation opened under the DSA since it came into effect in February. Similar proceedings were started against social media platforms TikTok and X.

The regulation’s goal is to prevent illegal and harmful activities online, including hate speech and cyberbullying, as well as the spread of disinformation.

“Consumer protection, especially for minors, is an essential cornerstone of the Digital Services Act. AliExpress must respect its obligations to mitigate the systemic risks on its platform and apply all safeguard provisions to ensure its services are safe,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president at the European Commission.

In a statement sent to Cybernews, AliExpress said it respects “all applicable rules and regulations in the markets where we operate.”

It said it will continue to work with relevant authorities on “making sure we comply with applicable standards and will continue to ensure that we will be able to meet the requirements of the DSA.”

“AliExpress is committed to creating a safe and compliant marketplace for all consumers,” it said.


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