What are they?

Flagging is the process allowing third parties to report potentially illegal content to platforms for review and, if necessary, removal. Organisations that are formally recognised as trustworthy for identifying and reporting illegal content are called trusted flaggers.

Under the Digital Services Act (DSA ), trusted flaggers shall be recognised in accordance with the provisions of Article 22. Online platform providers operating within the EU are required to cooperate with recognised trusted flaggers to prioritise their reports submitted through the notice and action mechanism.

Article 3 of the DSA defines illegal content as “any information that, in itself or in relation to an activity, including the sale of products or the provision of services, is not in compliance with Union law or the law of any Member State which is in compliance with Union law, irrespective of the precise subject matter or nature of that law”.

Recital 61 of the DSA emphasises that action against illegal content can be taken more quickly and reliably where providers of online platforms take the necessary measures to ensure that notices submitted by trusted flaggers through the notice and action mechanisms are treated with priority, without prejudice to the requirement to process and decide upon all notices submitted under those mechanisms in a timely, diligent and non-arbitrary manner.

Recital 62 of the DSA adds that the introduction of specific rules on the recognition of trusted flaggers should not be understood to prevent providers of online platforms from giving similar treatment to notices submitted by entities or individuals that have not been awarded trusted flagger status under the DSA or from otherwise cooperating with these entities.

Eligible entities

Recital 61 of the DSA lists a number of examples of entities that are eligible for the status of trusted flagger. These are:

  • Specific units of (national or European) law enforcement authorities (e.g. Europol);
  • Non-governmental bodies (e.g. INHOPE network);
  • Private or semi-public bodies;
  • Industry organisations;
  • Sectoral organisations;
  • Etc.

 To prevent the trusted flagger system from diminishing in value, the number of trusted flaggers should be limited to organisations that display the necessary expertise to detect illegal content and meet the conditions. Therefore, private individuals cannot obtain the status of trusted flagger.

Terms for candidacy

Art. 22 of the DSA defines the terms and conditions to be met in order to be able to obtain the trusted flagger status. These terms and conditions relate to the nature and the expertise of the applicant.
The applicant has to demonstrate (and provide all documents useful thereto) that he meets all of the following conditions:

  1. Have its place of establishment in the DSC country where it submits its request for recognition;
  2. Have particular expertise and competence for the purposes of detecting, identifying and notifying illegal content;
  3. Be independent from any provider of online platforms;
  4. Carry out its activities for the purposes of submitting notices diligently, accurately and objectively.

The applicant's expertise

Among other things, “expertise” is to be understood as follows:

  • Expertise in detecting and tackling illegal content;
  • Thorough knowledge of national and European regulation regarding one or more types of illegal content;
  • Technical competence within one of its domains of expertise;
  • Required knowledge regarding the use of digital technologies.


Among other things, independence is to be understood as follows:

  • Have the requisite independence in its decision-making (not be under the control of one or more online platforms for its reporting activity);
  • Full transparency regarding the financing and any form of fee;
  • The applicant’s coworkers are independent of the platforms.

Diligent, accurate and objective notices

“Diligent, accurate and objective notices” are to be understood as follows:

  • Precise and qualitative notices;
  • Sufficient human, technical and financial means to carry out the activity;
  • Apparent commitment to the users’ safety and respect for their rights.

Main obligations for the recognised trusted flaggers

In the context of the recognition as trusted flagger, the applicant shall:

  • Make accurate and qualitative notices including:
    • a substantiated explanation of the reasons why the content in question is suspected to be illegal,
    • a clear indication of the electronic location of the content (such as the exact URL or URLs),
    • the trusted flagger’s name and email address,  
    • additional information enabling the identification of the illegal content adapted to the type of content and to the specific type of hosting service,
    • a statement confirming the bona fide belief that the information and allegations contained therein are accurate and complete;
  • Publish, at least once a year, easily comprehensible and detailed reports including:
    • the number of notices (categorised by the identity of the provider of hosting services, the type of allegedly illegal content notified, the action taken by the provider);
    • an explanation of the procedures in place to ensure that the trusted flagger retains its independence.

Revocation of the status

The status of trusted flagger can be revoked when a provider of online platforms has information indicating that the trusted flagger has submitted insufficiently precise, inaccurate or inadequately substantiated notices.

Should it be considered that there are legitimate reasons to open an investigation, the status of trusted flagger shall be suspended during the period of the investigation.

The status of trusted flagger shall be revoked if it is determined, following an investigation, that the entity no longer meets the conditions.

Before revoking that status, the trusted flagger shall be afforded the opportunity to react to the findings of the investigation and the intention to revoke the status.

The revocation of the status shall be notified to the Commission and the Digital Services Board and shall be published by the Commission in a publicly available database that is regularly updated.

Submitting an application

Entities wishing to obtain the status of recognised trusted flagger can submit their application with the BIPT at the following email address: dsa@bipt.be.
As numerous competences are involved in the implementation of the DSA, at federal and community level, 4 competent authorities have been designated in Belgium:

Each competent authority is in charge of certifying the trusted flaggers that, considering the Belgian division of powers, fall within its brief.

Additional questions relating to the status of trusted flagger, or questions relating to the DSA in general, can also be sent via the email address mentioned above.

Back to top