Wednesday 10 March 2021 10:08 am

UK regulators unveil ‘joined-up’ approach ahead of Big Tech crackdown

Three major UK watchdogs have outlined their “joined-up” approach to digital regulation this morning as authorities prepare to crack down on Big Tech.

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DCRF), which includes Ofcom, the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), today unveiled its first annual plan for co-ordinating new regulation across online and digital services.

The new group, formed in July last year, seeks to pool expertise and resources given the “unique challenges” the regulation of digital platforms offer.

“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,” Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “That is why now, more than ever, we must work closely with other agencies – both domestically and internationally – to tackle these problems together and work with powerful tech firms to proactively shape their behaviour.”  

The DCRF will act as a channel through which each watchdog can cooperate with online regulation, alongside each of their existing digital duties.

Ofcom has been tasked with overseeing and enforcing a new duty of care for online harms, meanwhile a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) is set to be established in the CMA.

Later this year, data watchdog the ICO will welcome a new Age-Appropriate Design Code, also known as the Children’s Code, to ensure the safety of the internet’s younger users.

“Our workplan is a roadmap towards pragmatic, practical solutions to the challenges arising from our increasingly digital world. Practical cooperation between regulators will drive better outcomes for business and individuals,” UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

The forum is set to launch joint projects and collectively build a more comprehensive view of online trends to aid regulation.

The collection of watchdogs will also engage with other regulatory authorities with responsibilities for digital markets.