On Friday April 26, Brussels added Shein, the Chinese champion of inexpensive ready-to-wear sold online, to the list of very large online platforms subject to reinforced controls as part of the new legislation on digital services, called the Digital Services Act (DSA). These obligations will apply to Shein from the end of August.

The application founded in China in 2012 – emblem of the social and environmental excesses of fast fashion – becomes the twenty-third platform, alongside X, TikTok, Google and Facebook, to have EU rules imposed European (EU) standards to “protect consumers against illegal content,” the European Commission announced in a press release.

Shein sells its clothes exclusively online, to a young clientele very present on social networks. It claims 108 million users of its site in the EU each month, significantly more than the threshold of 45 million from which digital players can be subject to reinforced regulation.

Measures to “protect consumers”

These companies must analyze the risks linked to their services in terms of dissemination of illegal content or products and put in place the means to mitigate them. This analysis must be the subject of an annual report submitted to the European Commission, which now assumes the role of digital policeman in the EU.

“Measures should be implemented to protect consumers from the purchase of dangerous or illegal products, with particular emphasis on preventing the sale and distribution of products that could be harmful to minors,” a explained the Commission.

Very large platforms must also provide the regulator with access to their algorithms so that compliance with the regulation can be monitored. They must undergo an independent external audit once a year, at their own expense.

Violators of the rules can face fines of up to 6% of their global annual turnover, or even a ban from operating in Europe for serious and repeated violations.

The DSA showed its effectiveness this week by requiring the Chinese social network TikTok to suspend in the EU the functionality of its new TikTok Lite application which rewards users for time spent in front of screens. The Commission feared the risk of addiction, particularly for adolescents, and opened an investigation. She suspects the social network, owned by the Chinese group ByteDance, of not having conducted the obligatory risk analysis, in particular for the mental health of users.

Still within the framework of the DSA, Brussels opened an investigation in December targeting the social network X for alleged breaches of content moderation obligations.