LIRNEasia at the European Rights & Risks Stakeholder Engagement Forum: Key Takeaways

Posted on July 10, 2024  /  0 Comments

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) represents a landmark regulation aimed at creating a safer and more transparent online environment. Central to the DSA are mandates for large online platforms and search engines, referred to as Very Large Online Platforms (VLOPs) and Very Large Online Search Engines (VLOSEs), to conduct Systematic Risk Assessments (SRAs) and engage in meaningful consultations with civil society.

At present, VLOPs and VLOSEs in the European Union are conducting their second round of mandatory risk assessments under the DSA. These assessments seek to identify and mitigate systemic risks related to human rights on large platforms. In the meantime, in late June, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) and the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (DTSP) hosted the European Rights & Risks: Stakeholder Engagement Forum (“the Forum”) in Brussels with the intention of sharing insights on assessing systemic risks to fundamental rights as part of implementing the DSA. By fostering open dialogue between companies and civil society, the Forum created a platform to collectively explore what meaningful stakeholder engagement might look like in the new regulatory landscape and how it can improve going forward. LIRNEasia was also invited to participate in this event .

The consensus was that for consultations to be truly meaningful, companies should adopt a more specific and transparent approach. Rather than posing broad questions, companies should engage civil society with targeted inquiries that reflect the company’s current considerations. Additionally, it was highlighted that it is crucial for companies to provide feedback on how the input from civil society influences their decisions and actions. This reciprocal communication would ensure that civil society contributions are valued and impactful.

The event also delved into the complexities of conducting systematic risk assessments as required by the DSA. However, there remains a significant degree of uncertainty about how these EU-mandated SRAs align with the existing risk assessment processes within digital services firms, such as the risk assessments routinely done before the launch of new products.

It was noted by many that the lack of feedback from the European Commission on the initial SRAs has left companies without a clear framework or guidelines. As a result, different companies are adopting varied approaches to SRAs. Furthermore, civil society expressed concerns about their limited understanding of the content and methodology of these assessments.

Key Takeaways

  • Need for targeted, relevant inquiries and transparent feedback from companies to civil society.
  • Need for clearer guidelines and feedback from the European Commission to ensure consistency and effectiveness.
  • Necessity for reciprocal communication between companies and civil society.
  • Ensuring civil society contributions are acknowledged and reflected in company actions.

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