Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum 2022-2023 workplan focuses on coherence, collaboration and building capacity
The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) is joint initiative between the major UK regulators that cover digital services. These include the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Information Commissioners Office (ICO), The Office of Communication (Ofcom) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The organization is one of the first of its kind in the world. The DRCF’s 2021-22 workplan was its first structured plan of work and sought to improve coordination in digital regulation through a joint statement between the ICO and CMA on the intersection of data and competition regulation, horizon scanning work on emerging technologies and producing findings from research on algorithmic processing. During this time the DRCF also appointed its first CEO, Gill Whitehead in November 2021.
The 2022-23 workplan:
The 2022-23 workplan from the DRCF aims to build on this early work through three core themes, coherence, collaboration, and capability. The work plan also highlights the important role the DRCF will place on external engagement, including with industry and academia.
Under each of the three themes the 2022-23 workplan details its aims and specific pieces of work:
Coherence between regimes: this part of the work plan aims to provide greater clarity and consistency between regulatory regimes with projects to address where regulatory tensions may arise.
Here the DRCF will work with its regulators to improve the supervision of services which fall under the Video Sharing Platform (VSP) and Age-appropriate Design Code (AADC) regimes by finalising a joint working framework and conducting scenario workshops to test this framework. The DRCF will also publish joint research on parental and children’s attitudes to age assurance as well as collaborating between regulators on the development of guidance and standards on age assurance.
Further the DRCF has also set out it’s aims to release a number of publications and statements under this theme. These include mapping interactions between relevant regulatory regimes; publishing a joint statement on the intersection of the online safety and privacy regimes; developing a clear articulation of the relationships between competition and online safety policy; continuing to develop its understanding of end-to-end encryption; and building on engagement between Ofcom and the FCA on online fraud and scams.
Collaboration on projects: under its collaboration workstream the DRCF will focus on two key initiatives. Supporting improvements in algorithmic transparency and enabling innovation in the industries covered by the DRCF regulators.
To achieve this the DRCF aims to build on the findings of its 2022 algorithmic transparency workstream by sharing knowledge on different algorithmic auditing techniques, as well as testing how to use digital solutions to monitor algorithmic processing systems to identify harms.
The DRCF will also produce research on the third-party algorithmic auditing market and aim to increase transparency in algorithmic procurement through a publication on best practices, harmful behaviours, and clarity on each of the DRCF’s regulator’s roles.
Importantly the DRCF workplan recognises the role regulators can play to make it easier for innovators to introduce new ideas, products and business models. The DRCF will produce research exploring how regulators can better support this and will use the conclusions to explore options to improve the experience for innovators across regulatory boundaries.
Capability building across regulators; the DRCF continues to recognise the demands of seeking to coordinate regulation across digital services.
In the 2022-23 workplan the DRCF will seek to improve its knowledge sharing through the development of knowledge networks, bridging the gaps in the horizon scanning work that each of the individual regulators undertake as well as committing to further efforts to recruit and retain specialist talent across all four regulators.
The knowledge networks proposed by the DRCF will create formal connections between regulators on common topics such as, regulatory and supervisory technologies; cloud services; advertising technologies; choice architecture; and privacy-enhancing technologies.
techUK’s engagement with the DRCF:
techUK and our members wish to see the DRCF become a successful and well-functioning part of the UK’s regulatory architecture. We see this as important to delivering the aims of the Government’s Plan for Digital Regulation. We are supportive of the DRCF model, seeing this as a more effective way of achieving regulatory coordination than the idea of a single digital regulator.
While the 2021-22 workplan was a good first step techUK and our members wished to see greater transparency in how the DRCF would deliver its the workplan and greater clarity on how it will engage with industry. These concerns were recognized in a letter from the DCMS Secretary of State to the DRCF and it is welcome to see the DRCF seek to address this in the 2022-23 workplan.
As the DRCF seeks to deliver this new workplan we look forward to engaging with the new CEO, particularly around how industry outreach and engagement can support the new workplan.
In particular members will be interested to understand:
- how industry can best support the plans for workshops and research detailed under each of the three themes,
- how the new knowledge networks will engage with industry to ensure they have a good understanding of trends in the market,
- the delivery schedule for publications and statements on regulatory coordination relating to online safety, fraud and scams and how industry can provide input into these,
- how to engage with initiatives sponsored by the DRCF to improve support for innovators who are developing products which cross the boundaries between regulators,
- how to engage further with the DRCFs horizon scanning work, which techUK has already sought to support.
You can read the full DRCF 2022-23 workplan here.
As Associate Director for Policy Neil leads techUK's domestic policy development in the UK. In this role he regularly engages with UK and Devolved Government Ministers, senior civil servants and members of the UK’s Parliaments with the aim of supporting government and industry to work together to make the UK the best place to start, scale and develop technology companies. Neil also acts as a spokersperson for techUK on UK policy in the media and at Parliamentary Committees.
Neil joined techUK in 2019 to lead on techUK’s input and engagement with Government on the UK-EU Brexit trade deal negotiations, as well as leading on economic policy. He has a background in the UK Parliament and in social research and holds a masters degree in Comparative Public Policy from the University of Edinburgh and an undergraduate degree in International Politics from City, University of London.
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