UK appoints former Google exec as first online regulator

UK appoints former Google exec as first online regulator

Melanie Dawes.jpg

Four UK regulators have appointed a single CEO to unify their approach to online services.

Gill Whitehead, who was a senior director with Google until 2020, takes over as head of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) two weeks today.

She will work on behalf of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom, the telecoms and media regulator, to ensure what the organisations called “strong regulation of online services”.

Melanie Dawes (pictured), Ofcom CEO, who also chairs the DRCF, said: “Her expertise and insight will be invaluable as we shape the regulatory landscape for the UK’s digital economy. This will be a pivotal role in bringing us together to tackle our shared challenges and secure a safer life online for everyone.”

Whitehead started her career as an economist for the Bank of England and then was at Deloitte before moving to the BBC and then Channel 4 Television.

At Google she led its consumer and market insights function across Europe, Middle East and Africa, and then led specialist teams for Google UK in data science, analytics, measurement and user experience.

Whitehead said: “We’re at a critical juncture in establishing a digital regulatory framework that ensures UK citizens can benefit from the best that technology has to offer whilst being protected from the worst.”

She said she wanted to build “a coherent and coordinated approach to digital regulation that is good for people using online services, and for business and innovation”.

Whitehead recently completed a master’s degree at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, and she holds non-executive roles at the British Olympic Association and other organisations.

UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who also chairs the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, said: “This appointment marks an important milestone for us, as we all work together on an ambitious workplan to ensure online safety, backed by effective legislation and regulation.”