Navigating the DSA in Practice: A Stakeholder Discussion on Risk Assessments & Rights


At present, very large online platforms and search engines (VLOPs and VLOSEs) in the European Union are conducting their second round of mandatory risk assessments under the Digital Services Act (DSA). Due in August 2024, these assessments seek to identify the platforms’ own “systemic risks,” the mitigations they’ve taken to reduce those risks, and their crisis plans and responses. In late June, the Global Network Initiative (GNI) and the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership (DTSP) are hosting a European Rights & Risks: Stakeholder Engagement Forum (“the Forum”) in Brussels to share insights on assessing systemic risks to fundamental rights as part of implementing the DSA.

Risk assessment best practices and Recital 90 of the DSA highlight the importance of engaging independent experts and civil society, among others, in order to draw on the best available insights about systemic risks, and tech platforms in the relevant context. Last year, GNI and DTSP, brought together our company members and experts from civil society and academia for two virtual workshops to explore the DSA’s approach to systemic risk assessment in more detail.

Building on the discussion and lessons learned from our 2023 workshop, the Forum aims to convene representatives from GNI and DTSP company members, civil society, and academia from across Europe and other jurisdictions to analyze, discuss, and inform ongoing DSA systemic risk assessments. Through discussion-based workshops and expert panels, the Forum will focus on relevant risks, fundamental rights, and the process of risk assessments. The Forum will be in person and complemented by a subsequent virtual event later this year.

Sharing insights and perspectives across companies and civil society can improve company risk assessment and mitigation. This collaborative approach can also reveal unintended consequences of regulation and identify instances of government overreach. The Forum is an initial opportunity to participate in and shape stakeholder engagement within the context of the evolving regulatory regime in the EU and other jurisdictions enacting similar laws.

In planning the forum, GNI and DTSP staff are taking time to consult our members and partners to learn more about how DSA implementation is going: what’s working, what’s not working, and where the gaps are, in service of mitigating risks to individuals and society while protecting fundamental rights. We have realized there are many questions and a pressing need for spaces to discuss these concerns.

After the event, GNI and DTSP will independently write and publish a high-level summary of the discussion. The Forum has been conceptualized and organized by GNI and DTSP. It is financially sponsored by Google, covering the costs of hosting the conference and staff and civil society travel, with additional travel support provided by TikTok.

We hope that this Forum will represent a critical step towards building a more robust framework for ongoing stakeholder engagement, particularly concerning DSA risk assessments. By fostering open dialogue between companies and civil society, we aim to collectively explore what meaningful stakeholder engagement might look like in the new regulatory landscape and how it can improve going forward. Given our multistakeholder community and experience working in this space, we hope to continue to enable engagement around tech company risk assessments and build a stronger bridge for continuous cross-stakeholder dialogue and learning.

About GNI
GNI is the leading multistakeholder forum for accountability, shared learning, and collective advocacy on government and company policies and practices at the intersection of technology and human rights. We set a global standard for responsible company decision-making to promote and advance freedom of expression and privacy rights across the technology ecosystem.

About DTSP
The Digital Trust & Safety Partnership is a unique initiative focused on promoting a safer and more trustworthy internet. We are committed to developing, using and promoting industry best practices, reviewed through internal and independent third-party assessments, to ensure consumer trust and safety when using digital services.