Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum has launched its plan of work for 2021 to 2022

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF), currently formed of Ofcom, the CMA and the ICO, has outlined its priorities for the coming year, marking a ‘step-change both in scope and ambition’ to coordinate regulation across digital and online services.

This announcement confirms the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will be joining the forum as a full member in April 2021 and outlines a roadmap for how regulators will work together to ensure a greater level of coordination and coherence across digital regulatory frameworks.

What is the DRCF?

The DRCF was formed in July 2020 by Ofcom, the CMA and the ICO to support regulatory coordination in digital markets, and cooperation of areas of mutual importance. It is a non-statutory voluntary network that does not have a decision-making role nor provide formal advice.  

Which forms of digital regulation does the DRCF focus on?

The UK Government’s agenda aims to both protect users online and support digital innovation and competition. This stretches accross different regulators:  

  • In 2020, Ofcom was given new powers to regulate UK-established video-sharing platforms and it was also confirmed as the official regulator to enforce the UK’s online harms framework.  
  • This year in 2021, the UK Government will seek to establish and resource a Digital Markets Unit in the CMA to oversee its planned new pro-competition regime.  
  • As required by the Data Protection Act 2018, in September 2021 the ICO’s Age-Appropriate Design Code will come into effect.  
  • Also in 2021, the Government plans to implement the National Data Strategy and intends to launch a new Digital Strategy covering its approach to regulating and governing digital technologies.  

2021 – 2022 DRCF workplan

This workplan sets out how the DRCF plans to achieve regulatory coordination and coherence by focusing on three priority areas:  

  1. Responding strategically to industry and technological developments  

DCRF plans to establish ‘joint strategic projects where our cooperation will help to provide clarity for businesses and digital service users; and regulatory coherence’, including for service design, algorithmic processing, digital advertising technologies (ASA) and service encryption.  

  1. Joined up regulatory approaches 

DRCF plans to develop approaches for delivering coherent regulatory outcomes where different regulations overlap, such as the ICO’s Age-Appropriate Design Code and Ofcom’s approach to regulating video-sharing platforms.  

This work will consider how planned new regimes for digital regulation may interact with existing regulation, such as financial regulation, intellectual protect rights and content regulation (including advertising led by the ASA).  

  1. Building skills and capabilities  

DRCF plans to develop practical ways of sharing knowledge, expertise, capabilities, and resources – e.g. in AI and data analysis.  

In addition to these three top priorities, the workplan aims to provide clarity for stakeholders through ‘collective engagement’, such as by working on planned joint public documents and using this work to strengthen domestic and international best practice.  

The DRCF will continue building its operational capacities to ensure it is achieving its stated aims with the publication of a report every 12 months to assess the forum’s progress.   

Next steps and engagement

techUK firmly supports the DRCF’s ambition in this workplan to harnesses collective expertise and ensure that the digital landscape is regulated effectively, coherently, and efficiently and that regulatory policy is developed in a responsive and holistic way.  

Alongside any efforts to coordinate regulation, the UK Government and DRCF should also consider the sequencing of legislation and possible cumulative impact of different forms of regulation for the range of digital businesses who are in scope.  

DRCF is encouraging comments and discussions on this plan of work and priorities for the year ahead. If you have any thoughts which you would like to share, feel free to submit directly to [email protected] or get in touch with [email protected] to discuss techUK’s response.  


Lulu Freemont

Lulu Freemont

Head of Digital Regulation, techUK

Lulu is Head of Digital Regulation at techUK, working across areas related to digital regulation, such as online harms and competition.

Prior to working at techUK, Lulu worked at social enterprise Parent Zone for a number of years, heading up the Policy and Public Affairs team. Working closely with technology companies, Parliamentarians and schools, her focus was on building digital resilience to help improve outcomes for children growing up in a digital world.

Lulu holds a MA (Hons) in Human Rights Law from SOAS, and a BA (Hons) in Politics from the University of Exeter.

[email protected]

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