A European Commission (EC) spokesperson told Just Style it is aware that Shein claims to have a community of “108 million monthly active users across member states” and added that it is in contact with the platform in view of a “possible designation” within the EU’s DSA in future.

The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into effect on 17 February 2024 aims to “create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses.”

The DSA includes specific rules for very large online platforms (VLOPs) and very large online search engines (VLOSEs), which typically have more than 45 million users per month in the EU, requiring them to abide by the strictest obligations of the Act.

The Commission has started to designate VLOPs or VLOSEs based on user numbers provided by platforms and search engines, which regardless of size, they were required to publish by 17 February 2023.

Once a platform or a search engine has been designated and reaches the 45 million monthly users threshold, it has four months to comply with the DSA.

Shein did not respond to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press, however the retailer’s website says it has more than 250m followers on social media.

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The EC spokesperson added that with regards to Shein the “procedure is ongoing but a timetable cannot be indicated”.

Based on DSA regulations, platforms and search engines need to update their figures at least every six months.

The online platforms and search engines also need to:

  • Establish a point of contact for authorities and users
  • Report criminal offenses
  • Have user-friendly terms and conditions
  • Be transparent as regards advertising, recommender systems or content moderation decisions.

The European Commission argued that some large platforms control an important ecosystem in the digital economy and emerge as “gatekeepers” in digital markets, with the power to act as “private rule-makers.”

The EC stated: “Their rules sometimes result in unfair conditions for businesses using these platforms and less choice for consumers. Another concern is the trade and exchange of illegal goods, services and content online. And, online services are being misused by manipulative algorithmic systems to amplify the spread of disinformation, and for other harmful purposes.”

The EC believes these challenges and the way platforms address them have a significant impact on fundamental rights online.

In February Shein hit back at criticism after a French MP took aim at the brand’s “throwaway business model” and used it as leverage to propose a €5 ($5.42) penalty on customers for every fast-fashion purchase.