UK super-regulator confirms 2021 priorities, new member

UK super-regulator confirms 2021 priorities, new member

Melanie Dawes.jpg

The UK's Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) has outlined its priorities for the year ahead, saying that its new strategy "represents a real step change in both its scope and ambition".

Over the course of the next year, DRCF will focus on three priority areas: responding strategically to industry and technological developments; joined-up regulatory approaches; and building skills and capabilities.

It will also bolster its capabilities and reach. The Financial Conduct Authority will join DRCF next month and also in April, the CMA will establish a Digital Markets Unit "to oversee the new pro-competition regime planned by the UK Government".

On the expanded scope, the announcement stated: "Our ambitions for the DRCF during 2021-22 represent a significant innovation in the breadth and depth of cooperation between digital regulators, and we are confident that the DRCF can deliver on the objectives of our workplan."

Despite the wide-ranging agenda, significant focus has been placed on collaboration between the bodies comprising DRCF.

The report continued: "However, future challenges have the potential to test the limits of our collaboration under our current frameworks. We have therefore been working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to identify whether further measures may be needed to support cooperation between digital regulators. As part of our analysis we have been considering a range of ideas about statutory support for cooperation and changes to information sharing arrangements. We will publish our evidence in the coming months to support ongoing steps to ensure greater coherence across the digital regulatory landscape."

Elaborating on the Digital Markets Unit to be established within the CMA, the document said the unit would oversee the "planned new pro-competition regime". Further, in September, as required by the 2018 Data Protection Act, the ICO’s Age Appropriate Design Code will come into effect.

DRCF said several key developments have emerged since it was established last year, which "reinforce the need for us to deepen our cooperation". Internationally these include anti-trust cases in the US, content moderation and advertising rules in the EU, and the dispute over content sharing and payments between publishers in Australia.

At home, developments that have influenced the 2021 body of work include Ofcom's regulation of UK-established video-sharing platforms (VSPs), effective 1 November, and the National Data Strategy announced in December.

Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes (pictured), said: "Online services are fundamental to how we interact with the world around us. And we want to ensure that people continue to enjoy the many benefits that these innovative platforms and technologies offer, while having peace of mind that they’re protected against the possible harms and risks.

"As we ready ourselves to take on new responsibilities to regulate online safety, today’s action plan sets out how, through the DRCF, we will strengthen our ties with the CMA and the ICO. Together we will drive a coherent approach to online regulation – for the good of internet users and the companies that serve them," she added.

Ofcom is inviting comments and discussion on the DRCF’s plan of work and priorities for the year ahead that should be submitted to  

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