Insights Digital Regulatory Cooperation Forum (DRCF) publishes policy paper on “Embedding coherence and cooperation in the fabric of digital regulators”

The DRCF is made up of the Information Commissioner’s Office, Ofcom and the Competition and Markets Authority, and was formed in July 2020. The Financial Conduct Authority joined the DRCF in April 2021. The aim behind the DRCF is to “help ensure online services work well for consumers and businesses in the UK”. Its goal is to strengthen existing collaboration and coordination between the three regulators, and harness their collective expertise when data, privacy, competition, communications and content interact.

The policy paper, which does not include the views of the FCA, has been published in response to the request from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in November 2020 for views on the challenges of delivering effective digital regulation, and whether further measures may be needed to support cooperation between digital regulators. It sits alongside the 2021-22 DRCF workplan, published in March 2021, which sets out the DRCF’s immediate plan for greater cooperation.

The document sets out a summary of the regulators’ ideas to address barriers to cooperation, and measures to strengthen digital regulatory cooperation in the future. In the DRCF’s view, the Government may want to consider measures to support cooperation between digital regulators in the following three areas:

  • supporting appropriate information sharing;
  • embedding coherence and cooperation in the statutory framework for digital services; and
  • providing transparency and accountability.

The DRCF recommends that the Government:

  1. reviews information sharing gateways of digital regulators to ensure that they are suitable for expected cross-regulatory engagement in the future, and supports the actions of the regulators in their functions with respect to online markets; and
  2. adopts measures to incorporate regulatory coherence and cooperation in the duties of digital regulators; options include:
  • aligned supplementary duties, for example to promote benefits for consumers, data subjects and citizens;
  • duties to consult; and
  • duties to cooperate.

The DRCF says that it also sees merit in the Government considering mechanisms that allow it to provide input on its strategic priorities with respect to digital services and platforms.

Ultimately, the DRCF says, establishing an appropriate framework for cooperation between regulators is a matter for the Government and it welcomes further discussion on the paper. To access the DRCF’s paper, click here.