back to article UK peers suggest one big 'Digital Authority' to watch the tech watchers, tighten up regulation

The world's tech titans have been warned that none are too big nor too international to be regulated on UK soil – though, Blighty's government must stop taking a piecemeal approach and ensure existing laws are effectively enforced. The latest in a long line of reports into measures for controlling companies in the internet age …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The chart lists MSN Messenger for Microsoft's Messaging. This is very recent.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The chart lists MSN Messenger for Microsoft's Messaging. This is very recent."

      It seems to have been copied out of a 2018 paper extracted from a 2017 paper by someone else. There seems to have been considerable shrinkage from the 2017 paper both in categories (28) and content (Microsoft Team [sic] in this particular case).

      It's difficult to decide what the table is supposed to show. Where, for instance are OpenStreetMap, Firefox and derivatives, Opera in just a couple of categories? It seems to be a handy list of a few things for people who don't want to look far (AKA people who want to get locked in)

      1. GruntyMcPugh

        @Doctor Syntax

        The Chart also makes a reference to Microsoft SkyDrive,.... which was renamed to OneDrive in 2014, so I'd guess this doc dates back to sometime around that period.

        Snapchat is missing, seems no excuse for that, it was available back in 2011.

        No mention of IBM in the cloud section, nor Rackspace, Dropbox or Evernote.

  2. Nick Kew

    Unintended Consequences?

    No, I don't have a crystal ball, either.

    But one driver for tech innovation is the prospect of being bought out by one of the Usual Suspects. Regulation that takes away or reduces that driver would seem to risk dampening that innovation.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Unintended Consequences?

      "But one driver for tech innovation is the prospect of being bought out by one of the Usual Suspects."

      And quite possibly to kill it. That also dampens innovation.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "It would also develop a pool of technical expertise for regulators to draw on – a common lament in the sector is that the regulators don't have the tech know-how, which is both costly and prevents them from being effective."

    Regulators won't have the tech know-how if they don't recruit it and it will cost them salaries if they do. The proposed body will also lack tech know-how unless they recruit it which will cost them salaries if they do. Not much difference there. I'm not saying the new authority isn't a good idea but this one comes down to spending money and it doesn't matter which body's doing the spending providing you're willing to spend it.

    I get the notion that a single body of expertise being switched back and forth as required is probably more efficient than keeping several teams of under employed experts on the payroll at each regulator but if shouldn't require the ICO to recruit a DBA to tell them what an RDBMS is; if that's really a problem it's not a matter of not enough staff, it's a matter of the wrong staff.

    An even more flexible approach to having sufficient staff is to take on freelancers (on non-IR35 terms of course) as needed. It goes against all Civil Service budgeting, of course, the notion that we have to make an unanticipated spend this year that we didn't make last years but if tried HMG might learn something about how flexible staffing works and why HMRC doesn't understand it.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      It is a valid point, but having one grouping body that pulls in some technical expertise (or makes existing regulators do so) is still cheaper than a whole new body duplicating existing civil service personnel.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Are there no good examples of effective regulation to draw on?

      I certainly welcome a plan to bring more technical expertise in to the problem of "digital regulation". However, that needs to also be balanced against some other factors.

      A big one is regulatory capture. Technical experts will certainly come from the world being regulated (with rotating doors), and there would even be pressure to minimise costs by accepting offers of "technical help" from the regulated companies. I am not convinced that any of our existing UK regulators are good models. Ofcom is certainly heavily captured by industry and, from the outside, I would guess Ofgem are as well.

      A related issue is to bring in enough diversity of opinions into discussions to make sure unexpected outcomes are minimised. One option is to include civil society but those groups, of course, tend to have their own agendas as well. Maybe if you can include enough of them, you can get good coverage.

      Last, but not least, is openness. Some of the issues above could be mitigated if everything was done in the open, including commissioning open studies by respected academics on both anticipated effects and analysis of previous decisions. Unfortunately, of course, much of the data, and even the options being considered, are commercially very sensitive, particularly if M&A activity is covered as well.

      Are there any good examples anywhere in the world of excellent regulation? Which works well for society as a whole balancing commercial, personal and government interests?

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    What's IT like in the Advanced IntelAIgent Space Servering You .....

    ... Others' Futures with Leading Derivative Ventures?

    Do you think tech innovation drivers will inform operating systems that they already have fine regulators which operating systems are invited to engage with and employ/deploy with novel projects in NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Environments?

    Or have you not imagined nor realised that you are playing catch-up with technology light years ahead of what is presently yours on Earth?

    Create a Buzz around that to Tease out and Populate ITs ProgramMING and that Feeds a Black Hole Information Spewing out New Knowledge for Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Novel and Noble Use. ....... Dynamite Nobel Utility for Immaculate Facility in Programs/AI BetaTesting Realities/Virtualised Presentations.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I'll believe it when I see the job adverts - and *not* based in London.

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