The internet and social media have not only changed the way we communicate, but also how we consume videos for entertainment, information and education, i.e. the traditional media services. However, these new forms do not only have advantages: the rapid, viral spread of content in social networks exposes users to old phenomena such as hate speech and misinformation in a new dimension. Challenges also remain in the field of consumer protection and the protection of minors.
Although content on such platforms is largely provided by users, the platforms themselves also play a not entirely unimportant role when it comes to the spread of such content; for example, through organising and marketing content.
In this respect, platforms (in this case video-sharing and communication platforms, which fall into KommAustria's purview) have the obligations to protect users, in particular through an appropriate reporting and complaints procedure for posted content.
KommAustria is not responsible for matters of the rights of persons concerned by the posting itself.
Information on KommAustria as competent supervisory authority for media services is available here. If you are interested in RTR's tasks as a complaints and service office for platforms, accessibility and media literacy, you can find more information here.
A video-sharing platform is
A communication platform is
Unlike media service providers, where KommAustria acts directly when regulations (such as protection of minors or disclosure of advertising) are violated, platform providers are required to set up their own systems to ensure compliance with regulatory objectives (such as preventing online hate speech or child pornography). In line with the principle of proportionality, the regulatory authority only intervenes if a systemic/structural failure of a system set up by a platform is identified ("co-regulation" system).
In the case of communication platforms, the aim is the rapid handling of reports of certain allegedly illegal content (in particular child pornography, terrorism, incitement to hatred and violence, violations of the National Socialism Prohibition Act), efficient and transparent complaint systems, and a reporting obligation on the handling of such content by the platforms. This applies to domestic and foreign for-profit platforms that have a certain number of registered users in Austria (100,000 persons) or exceed a certain turnover threshold in Austria (€500,000). It does not apply to video-sharing platforms with regard to moving image content provided there (broadcasts, user-generated videos).
Video-sharing platforms also need a reporting and complaints system regarding illegal content (e.g. pornography, terrorism, incitement to hatred), a user rating system, and media literacy measures. Video-sharing platforms are platforms whose principal purpose or a dissociable section of the service or an essential functionality of the service is devoted to providing programmes or user-generated videos for which the platform provider does not have editorial responsibility. This applies to video-sharing platforms domiciled in Austria.
Platforms also have various legal obligations that are subject to supervision by the regulatory body, such as the appointment of a responsible representative.
Communication platforms must, in particular, be reachable by courts and public authorities.
The Communication Platforms Act (KoPl-G) requires platform service providers to be quickly reachable by courts and public authorities in particular, as communication platform providers often do not have an address in Austria where documents can be served.
This legal protection deficit is eliminated through the obligation to appoint a responsible representative and authorised recipient to whom documents can be served (including with confirmation) pursuant to the Service of Documents Act. The contact details of the responsible representative and the authorised recipient must be permanently, easily and directly accessible.
The platform provider must appoint a natural person as a responsible representative. This responsible representative can also assume the function of authorised recipient. However, the platform provider may also choose to appoint another natural or legal person (e.g. an attorney's office) as authorised recipient.