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Free Content The challenge of forward-looking regulation

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Good regulation must be forward looking, otherwise it is quickly obsolete. The 2003 Communications Act asked what the communications industries would look like in ten years’ time and set out a regulatory framework to address future developments in the interests of citizens and consumers. It decided that the key theme of the next ten years would be the convergence of platforms, industries and services including audio-visual. It created Ofcom ‐ a converged regulator that had the right powers to deal with a converged world. When Chi Onwurah was Head of Telecoms Technology at Ofcom, she worked closely with industry and legislators in the United Kingdom and across Europe to ensure that citizens and consumers benefitted from convergence. This was possible thanks to the forward-looking regulatory framework that had been put into place by the 2003 Act. There was a long period of debate and discussion with a green paper and a white paper before the 2003 Communications Act was passed. This was necessary to understand the likely impact of convergence. The next big transformation in communications is data ‐ and we are not even in the discussion stage, let alone in a position to legislate. From the regulation of opaque machine learning algorithms to fake news to data rights, technological evolution is generating challenges legislators and regulators do not seem close to solving. In this article the author will discuss these issues and the need to bring about forward-looking changes to the law.
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Keywords: algorithms; communications; data; digital; legislation; regulation; technology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of Digital Media and Policy (formerly known asĀ International Journal of Digital Television) aims to analyse and explain the socio-cultural, political, economic and technological questions surrounding digital media and address the policy issues facing regulators globally. This double-blind-peer-reviewed journal brings together and shares the work of academics, policy-makers and practitioners, offering lessons from one another's experience. Content is broad and varied, ranging from a mixture of critical work on technology, industry and regulatory convergence, to the emerging wider socio-cultural and political questions such as the application of online networks, the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things. We intend to examine critically emerging wider questions such as the role of 'digital citizens', the regulatory environment for the new platform industry and the role of state regulation in an increasingly global media industry.
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