The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today joined forces with both the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in order to launch a new forum, which aims to help “ensure online services work well for people and businesses in the UK.”
At present the three regulators – covering issues of data, privacy, competition, communications (telecoms) and content interact – already collaborate and coordinate between themselves, but the new Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) hopes to strengthen those ties and improve upon them.
All of this is relevant in view of the Government’s plan to increase the scope of regulations that apply to online services (e.g. Online Harms Bill), which is an area that Ofcom may regulate. Similarly the ICO’s new Age Appropriate Design Code (currently laid in Parliament for approval) will set standards that relevant online services should meet to protect children from a range of harms arising from the processing of their personal data.
Kate Davies, Director of Strategy and Policy at Ofcom, said:
“Close cooperation between regulators is essential if we’re to protect the interests of people and businesses in relation to online services. The Forum is important to support regulators in sharing and developing our understanding of the fast-changing digital landscape.”
The new DRCF will follow six founding objectives.
The Six DRCF Objectives
Objective 1: Collaborate to advance a coherent regulatory approach by facilitating open dialogue and joint working to ensure that regulation and other enforcement tools applied to the digital landscape are developed and implemented in a coherent way, and produce effective and efficient outcomes that maximise benefits for consumers across policy areas.
Objective 2: Inform regulatory policy making by using the collective expertise of the Forum to explore emerging policy challenges in the digital space and develop solutions to inform regulatory approaches.
Objective 3: Enhance regulatory capabilities by pooling knowledge and resources to ensure that all members have the skills, expertise and tools needed to carry out their functions effectively in digital markets.
Objective 4: Anticipate future developments by developing a shared understanding of emerging digital trends, to enhance regulator effectiveness and inform strategy.
Objective 5: Promote innovation by sharing knowledge and experience, including regarding innovation in the approaches of regulators.
Objective 6: Strengthen international engagement with regulatory bodies to exchange information and share best practice regarding approaches to the regulation of digital markets.
We should point out that the new forum is a non-statutory body, which means that it is NOT a decision-making body and does not provide formal advice or direction to members. The DRCF will also engage regularly with Government and will invite a relevant DCMS Director General to participate in meetings on a periodic basis.