The Government announced last week that, as part of its plans to design and deliver an AI regulatory framework, the DRCF will pilot a new multi-regulator service to help innovators develop their ideas “with regulatory compliance in mind.” Backed by “substantial” Government funding, the DRCF AI and Digital Hub will provide tailored advice to help businesses navigate the various technology and AI regulatory regimes. The service will launch in the first half of 2024 for a 12-month pilot.
What is the DRCF?
The Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum was established in 2020 to enable “coherent, informed and responsive regulation of the UK digital economy” and support cooperation and coordination between its members. Those members are the ICO, OFCOM, CMA and FCA, although we understand that it does sometimes host events that other regulators can join.
What will the service offer?
While details are fairly light at the moment, the aim of the service is to address questions that cross multiple regulatory remits. Questions from successful applicants will be directed to DRCF regulators through a single point of contact, and those applicants will receive tailored support to help them feel more confident in launching innovative digital and AI products in a safe and compliant way. The hope it that this will reduce the time that it takes for innovators to bring products and services to market.
The service will also share its learning to benefit other businesses, providing a case study archive and anonymised examples of support provided to individual firms that other innovators might find useful.
The DRCF has said that more information, including details of how to apply to the hub, will be provided later this year.
While the DRCF does not want to be seen as “the AI regulator”, it is likely to have a strong role to play in the UK’s new AI regime. The regime adopts a contextual, sector-based regulatory framework under which existing regulators will implement a common set of AI principles, supported by a suite of central functions (see our article for more background). Regulatory co-operation and co-ordination is key to the success of this approach, and the Government’s AI white paper confirms that the DRCF already plays a valuable role in “enhancing regulatory alignment and fostering dialogue on digital issues across regulators” (although the paper also notes that the DRCF was not created to support all of the functions planned under the UK’s AI framework).
The DRCF’s work to-date clearly highlights the overlapping concerns many regulators have – for example, the ICO and CMA recently collaborated on a paper around harmful online design under its remit, warning that businesses who use harmful website designs that can trick consumers into giving up more of their personal data than they would like, may be harming consumers and weakening competition. It is therefore easy to see the “one-stop shop” benefits that a DRCF AI and Digital Hub could bring to those designing innovative products and services. What is less clear to see is what will happen with other sectors (and sector regulators) not currently in the DRCF club.
For more information on the risks and opportunities around AI, explore the different publications and podcasts from our Regulating AI series.