Committee Launches Inquiry Into Digital Regulation

Peers have launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of digital regulation as plans to regulate the internet progress.

The Communications and Digital Committee has announced the inquiry following the publication of the draft Online Safety Bill and the launch of a consultation on giving statutory powers to the new Digital Markets Unit.   

The News Media Association is working closely on both initiatives to ensure that the new digital ecosystem enhances the ability of news publishers to invest in the creation of high quality news and information.

Announcing the new inquiry, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, chair of the committee, said: “We want to investigate the effectiveness of digital regulation at a time when regulators are expected to take on new powers.”

In its report ‘Regulating in a digital world’, published in 2019, the Committee found that regulators “had failed to keep pace with advances in digital technologies” and recommended intervention to tackle the problems.  

The NMA’s evidence to that inquiry highlighted the need for action to protect journalism online and called for a review of competition regulation, with a focus on the tech companies’ exploitation of their dominant positions. 

In a report into the digital advertising marketplace in July 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority found the “exploitation” of commercial relationships with news media publishers by Google and Facebook was likely to lead to consumer harm as publishers were less likely to be able to monetise their content.

“Weak competition in digital advertising increases the prices of goods and services across the economy and undermines the ability of newspapers and others to produce valuable content, to the detriment of broader society,” the report said. 

The NMA will be responding to the new Select Committee inquiry which has a deadline of 22 October.