To fast forward development towards the SDGs, countries need to embrace the next level of regulation, with a new attitude and a new toolbox. The dual role of regulators as guarantors of inclusion and consumer protection, on one hand, and stewards of future-proof digital markets, on the other hand, cannot be overemphasized.
The following 12 elements form the core of collaborative regulation best practice:
- Space for digital experimentation: From temporary licences to new technologies’ pilots to regulatory sandboxes, a range of tools and techniques can be used to create a dynamic regulatory environment in which digital market failures and opportunities have space and flexibility to address present and future challenges. Such methodologies can also be employed to design strategies to enhance digital applications and skills.
- Pro-competition frameworks for the digital transformation should consider longer value chains, more diverse market players, services and devices, stakeholder partnerships and digital infrastructure layers, and ultimately, their impact on markets and consumers and Internet neutrality. Nonetheless, excessive and unwieldy regulation must be avoided.
- Regulatory incentives can create a positive market dynamic and improve market outcomes with less regulatory effort.
- Stakeholder engagement vehicles, such as public hearings, high-level roundtables and expert workshops, hackathons, can allow pooling resources and expertise to inform major regulatory decisions.
- Robust and enforceable mechanisms for consumer protection including a set of rules on data protection, privacy and data portability as well as accessible mechanisms for consumer redress are essential to support the digital transformation in economic sectors across the board and ensure consumers’ interests are safeguarded.
- Market-based and dynamic mechanisms for spectrum management can allow for flexible, simplified and transparent use of scarce radio frequencies, also promoting technology neutrality.
- Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA): Enhanced with new benchmarks and data analysis, RIA allow for better decision making and should be introduced as a regular practice before major regulatory decisions are made as well as throughout the lifecycle of regulation.
- Agile data-driven monitoring solutions, based on standards for the interoperability of data systems and tools among regulators and market players, can facilitate market oversight in areas such as quality of service and experience, and regulatory compliance.
- Diversified mechanisms for consumer engagement and feedback multiply the regulatory inputs and allow for fine-tuning regulatory policies and their implementation.
- Effective channels for dynamic collaboration among regulatory authorities, such as the ICT, financial and competition authorities as well law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, are necessary to ensure coherent and reasonable regulations across economic sectors. Regulatory sandboxes involving multiple regulators can incubate key cross-sector regulations, such as for digital financial inclusion.
- Regional and international cooperation in defining regulatory rules on cross-border issues can ensure consistency, predictability and fluidity of digital markets and will catalyze the deployment of region-wide and global digital infrastructure, from fibre backbones to submarine cables to mobile networks and satellite connectivity.
- Regulatory expertise needs to be developed continuously to integrate new technologies, competencies and skills and allow for data and evidence-based decision-making.