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Gill Whitehead appointed Chief Executive of Digital Regulators Forum

Published: 5 July 2023
Last updated: 14 August 2023

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) has today announced the appointment of Gill Whitehead as its Chief Executive.

The DRCF was formed in July 2020 to harness the collective expertise of its members – the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and Ofcom – and ensure strong regulation of online services.

Gill Whitehead has been appointed as the DRCF’s CEO and starts on 15 November. She will bring insight from a career that has spanned the broadcast and digital media sector, having previously worked for Google, Channel 4 and the BBC.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and started her career as an economist for the Bank of England and then Deloitte.

Gill was most recently a member of Google’s UK Management Group, leading specialist teams in data science, analytics, measurement and UX, and she previously led Google’s consumer and market insights function across Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Before joining Google in 2016, she spent eight years as a member of Channel 4’s Executive Team, where she created and led its data strategy and Audience Technologies & Insight division.

Gill recently completed a Masters degree at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, and holds non-executive roles at Informa PLC, Camelot UK the operator of The National Lottery, and the British Olympic Association.

As Chief Executive of the DRCF, Gill will lead the collective expertise of its members to ensure the digital landscape is regulated effectively, efficiently and coherently, and will oversee the delivery of the forum’s established action plan. She will be in charge of the Secretariat formed by each of the regulators and work closely with their CEOs to develop joined-up approaches, and to ensure that regulatory policy is developed in a responsive and holistic way.

I’m delighted to have Gill on board as the forum’s chief executive. Her expertise and insight will be invaluable as we shape the regulatory landscape for the UK’s digital economy. This will be a pivotal role in bringing us together to tackle our shared challenges and secure a safer life online for everyone.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive and Chair of the DRCF

We’re at a critical juncture in establishing a digital regulatory framework that ensures UK citizens can benefit from the best that technology has to offer whilst being protected from the worst. I look forward to building a coherent and coordinated approach to digital regulation that is good for people using online services, and for business and innovation.

Gill Whitehead

Gill’s impressive experience in this sector makes her ideally suited to take on this challenging and important role. We look forward to working closely with Gill and the other DRCF members on a more joined up approach to digital regulation – ensuring that we are delivering for consumers and businesses across the whole of the UK.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA

The role Gill is taking on is vital to ensure digital regulation is co-ordinated for the future. The forum will benefit from her experience and we are looking forward to working with her and all the regulators involved to create a clear approach.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner

My colleagues and I very much look forward to working with Gill and the wealth of experience she brings, as we focus on delivering better outcomes for consumers. This appointment marks an important milestone for us, as we all work together on an ambitious workplan to ensure online safety, backed by effective legislation and regulation. The DRCF provides a step-change in how we engage and coordinate in our regulation of the digital landscape.

Nikhil Rathi, Chief Executive at the FCA

What is the DRCF?

The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum was established in 2020 by the CMA, ICO and Ofcom – with the FCA joining as a full member in April 2021. As a voluntary forum, the DRCF works to ensure a greater level of coordination between regulators of online services. It builds on the strong working relationships between these organisations to drive a coherent approach to digital regulation – for the good of internet users and the companies that serve them.

The nature of digital services means that different regulatory regimes will interlink and overlap.

The four organisations currently hold different regulatory responsibilities for online services. Together, these span: addressing competition concerns (CMA, FCA and Ofcom), protecting consumers (CMA, FCA, Ofcom and ICO), upholding information rights (ICO), news and media plurality and some types of online content (Ofcom), and the regulation of financial services (FCA).

The scope of regulations that apply to online services is increasing. For example: Ofcom will oversee and enforce a new duty of care for online safety; a Digital Markets Unit will be established in the CMA to oversee a new pro-competition regime; and the ICO’s new Age-Appropriate Design Code came into effect this year.

We will be pooling our expertise and resources, working more closely together on digital regulatory matters of mutual importance, and reporting on results annually.

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