On July 1, 2020, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) launched a joint endeavor with the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) and Office of Communications (“Ofcom”), named the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (“DRCF”). The DRCF is intended to promote collaboration between the three regulators and pool their collective expertise with regard to data, privacy, competition, communications and content in digital markets and services. It also intends to engage regularly with the UK government.
Although the ICO, CMA and Ofcom currently coordinate regularly, the unique challenges raised by the regulation of online platforms, particularly those used by children, have prompted the creation of the DRCF in order to ensure a coherent regulatory approach. The ICO noted that regulatory cooperation in the UK is even more important as it nears the end of the Brexit implementation period.
In its launch document, the DRCF sets out its six key objectives, which are to:
- 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 maximize benefits for consumers across policy areas.
- Inform regulatory policy making by using the collective expertise of the DRCF to explore emerging policy challenges in the digital space and develop solutions to inform regulatory approaches.
- 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.
- Anticipate future developments by developing a shared understanding of emerging digital trends, to enhance regulator effectiveness and inform strategy.
- Promote innovation by sharing knowledge and experience, including regarding innovation in the approaches of regulators.
- Strengthen international engagement with regulatory bodies to exchange information and share best practice regarding approaches to the regulation of digital markets.
Simon McDougall, of the ICO, stated: “The ICO already has a strong relationship with both the CMA and Ofcom, and I’m pleased the Forum formalizes our existing collaborative efforts. […] We are in an era of digital innovation and ambition, so it’s crucial that regulators work together to find a balance between effecting compliance and encouraging change in the online world. The Forum will help us pursue joint projects and research, and we look forward to sharing knowledge and best practices.”