Ofcom are opening up their doors in Manchester — why now?
Ofcom are looking to Manchester’s talent in order to bolster their team following their new online regulatory powers.
What is Ofcom?
Ofcom is a communications regulator in the UK, whose remit includes regulating televisual content, radio content, postal communications and telecoms at large, which includes mobile/cell phone regulations.
It also acts as a competition authority, although this remit does not have a large or reaching effect in the mobile/cell phone sector.
Ofcom is charged with representing the interests of government, citizens, and citizens-as-customers. In similar fashion to various anti-trust laws, Ofcom must promote competition between companies from across the media, postal and telecoms sectors while also and ensuring the public is not harmed by comms or content.
Ofcom, on its own website, also says that “Ofcom’s job is to stand up for customers’ rights and make sure companies treat them fairly.”
Headquartered our of London, Ofcom has now also recently announced opening a new tech hub in Manchester.
Why are Ofcom moving to Manchester?
The organisation says it wants to tap into the city’s “huge array of tech, digital and data talent” — tremendously useful then for the next level of regulation that Ofcom will be able to handle, which involves online services and internet companies.
According to BBC news, “the Manchester [Ofcom] hub is expected to create 150 new jobs by 2025.”
It’s understood that Ofcom need to start hiring more media-savvy, internet-savvy professionals from Manchester and the surrounding counties, while also having easy access to the cybersecurity community within the city.
This is because Ofcom have recently gained new powers to both block websites and online services, as well as being able to audit, commission enquiries and even fine ‘big tech’ companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google/YouTube and others if they are deemed to not be doing enough to prevent public harm in the provision of their services.
In a report from December, the BBC reported that Ofcom can also “block [citizen or public] access to online services that fail to do enough to protect children and other users,” thanks to the Government’s recently proposed Online Harms Bill; which forms part of the responsibilities of the UK’s Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden.
While Ofcom’s regulations are policy and monetary-based; their powers in protecting the public from online harm — which can indeed include abuse, stalking, bullying and exploitation — these regulations and fines won’t actually include criminal prosecution, even though online harm can directly cause real-world harm.
However, Ofcom’s new powers provided by Government to protect the public from harm won’t actually do anything about online scams, ecommerce scams or internet fraud.
Could Ofcom block my access to apps?
If a breach of a duty of care is discovered, Ofcom will be able to use their powers to block access to apps.
Again, in theory, these apps could include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and the more private messaging apps such as Telegram and Signal.
Could Ofcom block my access to the internet?
In theory, if you’re in the UK, Ofcom could well block your access to websites that they deem harmful to the public at large.
The definitions between blanket blocking, targeted blocking, temporary blocking and citizen censorship have so far not been reported on in any significant way by the media in the UK, at the time of writing this piece.