Rapid digitisation has left many regulators playing catch up as they try to keep with the evolving times. The House of Lords has suggested a lack of collaboration and communication has led to regulatory gaps and overlaps, leading to inefficiencies.
Systems are not rigorous or accountable enough to address regulatory gaps and overlaps, according to the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee which says that better processes, as well as regulators, industry and experts working more closely together, are needed to deal with emerging challenges such as artificial intelligence advances.
A new Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum (DRCF) is “a small step” but a lack of overarching coordination and oversight of regulatory objectives remains, the committee said in a report published in December.
Key Findings from the report
- While welcoming the DRCF’s collaborative work so far, the committee is concerned that it lacks robust systems to coordinate objectives and to sort out potential conflicts between different regulators as the workload expands.
- Coordination needs to be extended and formalised between the DRCF and regulators, to enable more regulators with expertise in the digital world access to collaborate and ensure accountability.
- The UK has the opportunity to be world-leading as a centre for technology investment, not through regulating less but through regulating more effectively. More measures are needed to boost the DRCF’s long-term effectiveness and accountability, the committee believes.
- Information sharing between all relevant regulators, advisory bodies, the Government, industry and academia needs to be enhanced to avoid duplication of work and ensure that the greatest range of perspectives are fed into regulations.
- The committee recommends that an independent chair of the DRCF be appointed to resolve conflicts between regulators and to be accountable to Parliament.
Lord Gilbert, chair of the committee, said,
“Persistent challenges remain that the regulatory system is insufficiently equipped to confront.
“We called for more joined-up regulation and more resources as far back as 2019 and although the DRCF is a step in the right direction it doesn’t meet the challenges we face.
“We are concerned that not all regulators with digital interests and expertise have a seat at the table.
“Sharing information between regulators, advisory bodies, government, industry and experts needs to be enhanced to avoid duplication and ensure that the greatest range of perspectives feed into regulation.”
The committee wants to see a new committee of MPs and peers set up to oversee digital regulation.
Lord Gilbert added: “Given the pace of technological change and its impact across society and the economy, there is a notable gap in Parliamentary oversight.”