To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether Ofcom’s principal duty in carrying out its functions to further the interests of (a) citizens in relation to communications matters and (b) consumers in relevant markets where appropriate by promoting competition will apply across all its new functions in the (i) Telecoms Security Bill and (ii) draft Online Harms Bill.
24 May 2021
Ofcom must take account of its general duties when carrying out all of its functions, as set out in the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom also has certain specific requirements it must comply with when carrying out certain regulatory functions.
The Telecommunications (Security) Bill will amend Ofcom's regulatory duties under Section 105A to D of the Communications Act 2003 to strengthen Ofcom’s existing role in ensuring the UK’s public telecoms networks are secure and resilient. As the Bill amends those duties, Ofcom will continue to have to comply with the requirements set out earlier in the Act in discharging their new functions.
The general duties referenced will apply to Ofcom’s new online safety functions. The Draft Online Safety Bill, published on 12 May 2021, proposes to amend the Communications Act 2003 to add a specific duty on Ofcom in relation to online safety. This will be to secure, in the carrying out of its functions, ‘the adequate protection of citizens from harm arising from regulated services, through the appropriate use by providers of such services of systems and processes designed to reduce the risk of such harm.’