A former Google executive will be joining Ofcom to oversee its new duties as the regulator for online safety.
Gill Whitehead will head up the media watchdog’s Online Safety Group from April 2023, reporting to chief exec Dame Melanie Dawes.
Whitehead currently leads the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) which oversees the digital expertise of four member regulators: the Competition and Markets Authority, Financial Services Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office and Ofcom.
It comes as the online safety bill is due to return to parliament next week, and become law in the spring.
Before leading the DRCF, Whitehead was a member of Google’s UK Management Group, leading specialist teams in data science, analytics, measurement and UX.
She previously led Google’s consumer and market insights function across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Gill is a terrific appointment for Ofcom, as we gear up for taking on our online safety duties in the spring. She brings experience of expert leadership in data and technology, spanning the public and private sectors, including senior roles at the one of the world’s largest tech firms,” Ofcom chief Dame Melanie Dawes.
The government confirmed this week that the “legal but harmful” provision has been formally scrapped from the online safety bill, in a push to water down moderation and put greater focus on free speech protection.
The provision, which would have allowed tech firms to remove content that wasn’t actually illegal, sparked controversy across free speech advocates raising concerns around over censorship.
The measures will be replaced with new duties that strengthen the free speech requirements on major online platforms to make them more accountable for their policies.