Insights Government publishes Guidance on Digital regulation giving an overview of all government activity in this area

The web page provides a guide for those interested in the key upcoming digital regulatory activity that is being explored, developed or implemented by the Government. It covers a range of governance activities, from legislative change to the development of co-regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks, and provides links to all the key Government resources.

In terms of its overarching approach, the Government says that it will continue to develop and refine its overall approach to governing digital technologies, building on the Digital Regulation Plan (see item below). It also plans to publish a Digital Strategy in Quarter 4 of 2021.

On digital competition, the Government refers to the new Digital Markets Unit within the Competition and Markets Authority. It advises that businesses designated with “Strategic Market Status” will be subject to a mandatory code of conduct and further pro-competitive interventions such as data-related remedies. The Government says it is preparing to establish the new regime in statute, including launching a consultation on the new regime during this Quarter (Q3) of 2021.

On online safety the Government points to the draft Online Safety Bill, which it says will ensure that the major tech platforms keep their promises to their users by enforcing their terms and conditions. In the interim, the Government points to its Safety by Design guidance and its “One-Stop-Shop” on child safety online (see last week’s N2K). The Government says that it has also aligned its approach to the ICO’s Age-Appropriate Design Code, which it plans to review in 2022.

On data, the Government has been developing and implementing the National Data Strategy to “unlock the power of data for the UK”. As a part of this, the Government is exploring how Smart Data (the secure sharing of customer data with authorised third-party providers, upon the customer’s request) can improve consumer outcomes, reduce barriers to entry, enable innovation and support fair competition, including through the establishment of a cross-sector Smart Data Working Group. During this Quarter (QC) of 2021, we can expect an update on plans to deliver mission 2 of the National Data Strategy (securing a pro-growth and trusted data regime) as well as an update on National Data Strategy Implementation Framework. When parliamentary time allows, the Government says that it plans to introduce primary legislation “to extend the government’s powers to mandate participation in Smart Data initiatives”.

In terms of cyber security, the Government says that it is working to strengthen cyber and digital resilience in the UK. The Government says that it is looking to improve the regulatory framework for cyber and digital security and is working to make sure that connected technologies vital to the digital economy have effective security built in from the start. Later this year, we can expect to see a Business Resilience and Cyber Security Review, publication of a National Cyber Strategy, and a consultation on the Network Information Systems (NIS) & Cyber Security Regulation.

As far as digital identity is concerned, the Government says that it is looking to develop and implement a legal framework to remove regulatory barriers preventing the use of secure digital identities, establish safeguards for citizens, and increase confidence in this nascent market. A pre-legislative consultation this year will support the next stage of policy development.

As for online advertising, the Government says that it is committed to reviewing the online advertising ecosystem as part of DCMS’ Online Advertising Programme to ensure it is subject to appropriate regulation and that harms in advertising are minimised. Specific issues that may form part of the scope of the review include the use of personal and online behavioural data in the targeting of online ads, and ensuring robust levels of transparency and accountability in the regulation of online advertising with respect to content and placement. The review will include looking at the role of platforms in the online advertising ecosystem.

The Government is exploring the case for greater protections for online gamblers, and the rules around gambling advertising, largely through its Review of the Gambling Act 2005. The aim is to publish a White Paper on the Review during Quarter 4 of 2021.

As for the press, video and radio, the Government has commissioned reviews of broadcast and radio regimes to ensure they are fit for the digital age. It is also assessing how UK citizens consume media, and how to strengthen media literacy, particularly around the consumption of digital media. The Government plans to publish a White Paper on the future of broadcasting in Autumn 2021. The White Paper will set out proposals to ensure the UK’s framework is fit for the modern digital age, including measures to ensure public service broadcasting is given adequate prominence across distribution platforms. The White Paper will also follow a review of the regulation of video-on-demand services. The Government also says that it is committed to enhancing the sustainability of journalism, and the pro-competition regime for digital markets represents one aspect of the government’s support for news publishers. The mandatory code of conduct at the heart of the regime will support the sustainability of the news publishing industry, helping to rebalance the relationship between publishers and the online platforms on which they increasingly rely. Later this year, we can expect to see publication of the Digital Radio and Audio Review report, the Media Literacy Strategy and a Broadcasting White Paper.

Finally, on artificial intelligence, the Government says that its AI Sector Deal from 2018 identified the use of AI and data as a critical element of driving growth and innovation across UK economic sectors. During this Quarter (Q3) of 2021, the Government plans to publish a National AI Strategy, focusing on: (i) growth of the economy through widespread use of AI technologies; (ii) the ethical, safe and trustworthy development of responsible AI; and (iii) resilience in the face of change through an emphasis on skills, talent and R&D.

To access the new guidance page, click here.