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Gill Whitehead to lead Ofcom’s new online safety role

Published: 30 November 2022
Last updated: 17 March 2023
  • Former Google and Channel 4 executive joins as Group Director, Online Safety
  • Ofcom prepares for new duties to help create a safer life online

Gill Whitehead, a former Google executive and one of the UK’s senior leaders in data and technology, is joining Ofcom to oversee its new duties as the regulator for online safety.

Gill Whitehead

The Online Safety Bill, currently before Parliament, will hand Ofcom a remit and powers to help create a safer life online. The Bill is expected to become law in the spring, kicking off an intensive period of work as Ofcom establishes regulations that will hold tech firms to account for prioritising their users’ safety.

Gill will lead Ofcom’s Online Safety Group from April 2023, reporting to Chief Executive Dame Melanie Dawes. Gill joins from the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) where, as Chief Executive, she led the collective digital expertise of four member regulators: the Competition and Markets Authority, Financial Services Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office and Ofcom.

The DRCF is a pioneering body that co-ordinates digital regulators’ work into a coherent whole, allowing its members to pool resources and respond quickly to changes in the market. Gill has established the DRCF as a world-leading approach to implementing digital regulation.

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

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

Gill holds a Masters degree at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, and has non-executive roles at Informa and the British Olympic Association. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, having started her career as an economist for the Bank of England and then Deloitte.

Being online brings huge benefits, but right now it also comes with risk. Over time we can achieve a safer life online for everyone, and I’ve been impressed at how quickly Ofcom has developed its skills and brought in talent from across the tech sector. It will be a real privilege for me to lead those teams.

Gill Whitehead

Gill is a terrific appointment for Ofcom, as we gear up for taking on our online safety duties in the spring. She brings experience of expert leadership in data and technology, spanning the public and private sectors, including senior roles at the one of the world’s largest tech firms.

Ofcom is continuing to get ready by hiring more tech and data experts, and developing our approach to enforcing these new laws.

I’d also like to put on record my thanks to Kevin Bakhurst, our Group Director for Broadcasting and Online Content, who has led our online safety preparations so effectively until now. Kevin will continue in his current role until early next year, before returning to lead Ofcom’s broadcasting work.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive
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