Digital Services Act Conference Brussels Belgium

Event Overview

Since the Electronic Commerce Directive was adopted in 2000, the digital space has significantly evolved with the emergence of social media platforms, OTT and sharing-economy players as well as with the convergence of media consumption, and the explosion of user-generated content. Concerns about developments in the digital economy, including the rapid proliferation of online hate speech and disinformation, have spurred calls for a revision of the current rules, where it is argued self-regulation is not having the necessary impact. In this context the European Commission is expected to launch a review of the existing E-Commerce Directive through a proposed Digital Services Act, which would “upgrade our liability and safety rules for digital platforms, services and products, and complete our Digital Single Market.”

This Forum Europe conference will discuss the objectives and potential provisions of any proposed Digital Services Act, addressing issues relating to liability, content moderation and regulatory oversight of intermediary service providers. It will assess what is required to create conditions that foster fair competition for digital platforms and the media sector to thrive, and to safeguard an open and safe online space, ensuring the Internet continues to be a key driver for innovation, economic growth, democratic discourse and social progress.

First Keynote Speaker Confirmed

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of  the European Commission responsible for “A Europe Fit For The Digital Age” has agreed to be our first keynote speaker. 

Margrethe will follow this opening keynote with an interview with our chairman, Paul Adamson. 

Margrethe Vestager

Speakers included

Margrethe Vestager

Margrethe Vestager

Executive Vice President, A Europe Fit for the Digital Age

European Commission

Czech Republic


Deputy Head of Unit Data Policy and Innovation, DG CNECT

European Commission

Gertrud Ingestad

Director-General of DG DIGIT

European Commission

Mary Carol Madigan

Business Strategist for Artificial Intelligence



Event Day
08:30 - 09:00
Registration and Coffee
09:00 - 09:20
Keynote Speech

With Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President, “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”, European Commission

09:20 - 09:40
Interview and Q&A: Margrethe Vestager, with Paul Adamson, Chairman of Forum Europe
09:40 - 10:15
Keynote Session
10:15 - 11:15
Session 1: Modern Rules for the Digital Age: Assessing Objectives and the Policy Instruments to Achieve These

Setting the scene for the rest of the day, this session will explore the extent to which new rules governing the responsibilities of online platforms are needed and will discuss what the best policy and regulatory instruments may be so that the new rules remain fit-for-purpose in the future.

  • Why is new legislation needed? What are the shortcomings of existing rules?
  • What should the DSA add to these existing regulations?
  • How might the new rules interact with sectorial policies that have already been adopted to tackle specific issues including terrorist content online, copyright infringements, hate speech or child sexual abuse material?
  • What should regulatory oversight look like? Should regulation be EU-wide, or should more power be allocated to existing regulatory structures in specific states? How could any regulation improve on the current self-regulation model?
  • What positive impacts could such changes, including possible amendments to current data portability rules, have on the tech sector in Europe and how can it be ensured that sufficient support will be provided to SMEs and start-ups to face the possible challenges that such provisions could have on their business models?
  • How can cooperation between the private sector and public authorities for the detection and removal of illegal activities and material be enhanced?
  • To what extent will the new rules reinforce the EU’s global position as a place enabling open access to information and content via a thriving and safe online space where copyright and fundamental rights are respected?
11:15 - 11:30
Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:30
Session 2: Liability & Online Content – Defining Responsibilities

An expected provision of the Digital Services Act would oblige online platforms to have a “duty of care” for content that is both hosted and shared on their sites. In the past years, policymakers have called for online platforms to take a more proactive role in addressing illegal content, through initiatives such as the ‘Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online’. It is argued however that voluntary self-regulation hasn’t proved to be efficient, with platforms increasingly being criticised for failing at tackling illegal content, hate speech, activities infringing copyright rules or the spreading of disinformation. This has led to calls for clarified rules regarding platform responsibilities and to question the liability exemptions that platforms have been enjoying under the e-Commerce Directive, known as ‘Safe Harbour’. In an era where online content is increasingly user-generated, this session will discuss the extent to which tech companies can be incentivised to be more proactive in removing illegal material without undermining freedom of expression, hindering innovation and worsening the user experience.

  • How could provisions for the removal of illegal content through mandatory and transparent notice-and-action rules concretely work in practice of any proposed regulation?
  • What can be learnt from the member states that have already designed national laws addressing illegal content and hate speech? Can harmonised EU-wide rules be created on their basis?
  • How will monitoring online content work in practice? What role will technologies such as Artificial Intelligence play in ensuring transparency and accountability, and what are the risk associated with automated filtering technologies?
  • Is there an EU-wide definition for what is deemed ‘illegal content’? How will the new rules address ‘harmful content’ that is not necessarily illegal, and how can it be ensured that attempts at regulating such content does not put our rights and freedom at risk? How can safeguards be utilised to avoid the wrongful removal or blocking of legitimate speech and content?
12:30 - 13:45
13:45 - 14:05
Keynote Speech
14:05 - 15:05
Session 3: E-Commerce and Liability Exemptions – Working to Tackle Counterfeit, Illicit and Unsafe Goods Online

The E-Commerce Directive (ECD) sought to deal with issues of liability relating to any illegal activity of users of internet platforms. When the ECD was originally drawn up, much of this centred on goods sold online. While hate speech and illegal content online is subject to much focus from policymakers and the media, counterfeit and unsafe products sold on internet platforms continue to be a priority area for e-commerce players, brands and consumer advocates amongst others. This session will look at how the DSA will seek to address and update policy on the relationships between platforms, their users and consumers, brands and manufacturers, focusing on liability, competition, trust and cross-sectoral cooperation.

  • How should the DSA update the longstanding liability exemptions for e-commerce and other platforms?
  • Is enough being done by and between industry and platforms, particularly with regards to data sharing, in order to tackle unsafe and counterfeit goods?
  • Can solutions such as artificial intelligence really offer the depth of protection required?
  • Are the variety of self-regulatory programmes initiated by the platforms to tackle counterfeit goods and intellectual property infringements online fit for purpose, and what might be improved under any new DSA rules?
  • What is the future role for law enforcement, in particular agencies such as Europol, in the area of e-commerce, where cross-sector, cross-border cooperation is necessary to tackle the sale of illicit goods and services?
15:05 - 15:30
Coffee Break
15:30 - 16:30
Session 4: Media, Fake News, Political Advertising and the DSA: Ensuring Trust and Safeguarding Democracy Online

Availability and access to trusted information is at the core of the functioning of our democracies. In recent years however, the increasing use of online platforms for the proliferation of so-called ‘fake news’ and ideological ideas in rapid, repetitive patterns, have impacted the integrity of the political discourse, leading the European Commission to establish a ‘Code of Practice on Disinformation’ to address these issues. Following the publication of the first annual self-assessment reports by the signatories of the Code last October, this session will debate the main findings, explore the concerns that remain to be addressed and will discuss the role that the Digital Services Act provisions can have in creating the right conditions to improve the integrity of media services.

  • How might the DSA improve the fight against disinformation and against rogue actors seeking to influence political discourse?
  • To what extent might any proposed rules encourage further transparency, particularly surrounding contentious issues such as political and issue-based advertising on online platforms?
  • How might the DSA interact with existing provisions of the Democracy Action Plan, the AVMSD and various other codes of practice currently in operation? Will it be enough to preserve media plurality?
  • How can the DSA build on the ECD with regards competition in the media sector?
  • What role can technological innovation and algorithms play in improving the integrity of services by promoting relevant, quality and appropriate content?
Conference Close
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Sponsors and partners

Event Organiser
Forum Europe
Forum Europe events are where people and policy meet. We have been organising policy conferences in Brussels and around Europe since 1989. Our events provide unique insights from the people behind the policy and those seeking to influence it. Our expert team develop conference programmes with impact and provide first-class event logistics. Forum Europe is more than an event management and conference production specialist. With offices in Brussels and the UK, we operate across Europe and globally. Through our international arm, Forum Global, our events cover five continents, and engage policymakers and industry at national and regional levels around the world. Our mission is to drill down to the issues that matter, creating policy events that are ahead of the curve, facilitating frank and open debate on some of the most pressing issues facing Europe and the world today.
Platinum Sponsor
BSA | The Software Alliance
BSA | The Software Alliance is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
Platinum sponsor
Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. Through our dedication to customer-centric innovation and strong partnerships, we have established end-to-end advantages in telecom networks, devices and cloud computing. We are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive solutions and services. Our products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population.
Platinum Sponsor
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
Platinum Sponsor
Workday, is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications, delivering financial management, human capital management, planning, and analytics applications designed for the world’s largest companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Workday’s cloud-based applications empower enterprises to process a wide variety of HR and finance-related transactions, gain new insights into their workforces and financial performance, and manage employee financial outcomes consistently on a companywide basis. Workday’s applications give customers real-time insights into their organizations, allowing them to make decisions based on data rather than guesswork. For employers, this translates to an ability to better manage the business, and for employees, it simplifies many daily transactions. Approximately 40% of the Fortune 500 are customers of Workday, and our services are deployed in more than 175 countries in over 30 languages. We have over 450 customers across Europe and an overall customer community representing 40 million workers. This includes some of Europe’s largest and most innovative companies, such as Airbus, Sanofi, Deutsche Bank, Primark, Siemens,, and Blabla Car.
Gold Sponsor
Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators present in 28 countries. At 30 June 2018, Orange has worldwide 149,000 employees and a total customer base of 260 million customers, including 199 million mobile customers and 20 million fixed broadband customers. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services. In accordance with its strategic plan “Essentials2020”, Orange places customer experience at the heart of its strategy ‘HumanInside’ with the aim of allowing them to benefit fully from the digital universe and the power of its new generation networks. For more information about Orange:, and on Twitter: @Orange_Brussels and @orange
Gold Sponsor
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP® applications and services enable more than 365,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably.


  • Standard €175.00

    Applies to: Corporate Organisations

  • Reduced €140.00

    Applies to: NGO/Not for Profit, Academic/ Student, National Government/ Regulator, Diplomatic Mission to the EU

  • Complimentary FREE

    Applies to: European Commission/ Parliament/ Council, EU Permanent Representations, Journalist/Press

* Please note that fees do not include Belgian VAT @ 21%, and this amount will be added to the total price when you are invoiced.

Group Discounts

Group discounts are available when registering multiple delegates on the same booking, as shown below.

Number of
3 – 510%
6 - 820%


Renaissance Hotel, Brussels

Rue du Parnasse 19
Brussels, 1050 Belgium

Renaissance Brussels Hotel

Rue du Parnasse 19
Brussels, 1050 Belgium

Get directions from Google Maps here.


For more information on any aspect of this event, please contact the team.

Tel: +44 (0) 2920 783 077