On 19 September, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) announced in a press release that it is to launch a pilot advisory service next year, called the DRCF AI and Digital Hub.

This service will be operated by members of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF), made up of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The DRCF AI and Digital Hub will provide businesses with tailored advice and support regarding how to meet requirements across multiple regulatory regimes. The DSIT anticipates that this service will expedite the process of getting new products and innovations to market, in a safe and responsible manner.

As such, the launch of the DRCF AI and Digital Hub will likely be welcome news for businesses across the UK, providing companies and innovators with the tools to navigate a challenging and multi-layered regulatory environment.

What is the DRCF?

The DRCF was formed in 2020, and, as mentioned above, is governed by the ICO, Ofcom, the CMA and the FCA. Its three core aims are:

  • promoting greater coherence – where regulatory regimes conflict, the DRCF will seek to resolve tensions, providing clarity for consumers and the industry;
  • working collaboratively on areas of common interest and addressing complex issues; and
  • working together to build necessary capabilities – learning from what each regulator is doing and striving to be best in class.

Though it was confirmed in the AI white paper that the DRCF will not perform all functions contemplated by the UK’s AI framework, the government confirms that it will play a defining role in the UK’s AI regime by “enhancing regulatory alignment and fostering dialogue on digital issues across regulators”.

Next steps:

Businesses and innovators seeking regulatory advice will apply to the DRCF and applications will be selected against a criteria as agreed by the regulators and the DSIT. Those who don’t directly benefit from the pilot will have recourse to the DRCF’s case study archive, and anonymised examples of advice provided.

The pilot is expected to launch in the first half of 2024, for a 12-month period, with the DRCF to provide details of how to apply to the hub later this year.