Saturday, 29 February 2020

Melanie Dawes to take vacant CEO position at Ofcom

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 12 February 20

Veteran civil servant Dame Melanie Dawes will replace interim CEO Jonathan Oxley as Ofcom is set to receive new powers to regulate online harms

Melanie Dawes is one of the UK’s most senior civil servants, with over 15 years’ experience as an economist at the Treasury. Since 2015 she has been the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, a role she will retain alongside this new Ofcom appointment.   She was tipped to take the CEO position at Ofcom last November…

Melanie Dawes is one of the UK’s most senior civil servants, with over 15 years’ experience as an economist at the Treasury. Since 2015 she has been the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, a role she will retain alongside this new Ofcom appointment.
 
She was tipped to take the CEO position at Ofcom last November, following the announcement that incumbent CEO Sharon White was vacating the role.
 
“I am delighted that the Secretary of State has approved Ofcom’s appointment of Dame Melanie Dawes as the next chief executive of Ofcom,” said Ofcom’s chairman Lord Burns. “The Government’s statement that it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the regulator for online harms is a vote of confidence in Ofcom’s expertise.”
 
Lord Burns himself is standing down as Ofcom’s chairman, after the government decided a new chairperson was needed to oversee the significant planned expansion of Ofcom’s regulatory remit to include power over harmful online content. 
 
Lord Burns will remain in his position until the arrival of the new chairperson, scheduled to begin by the end of 2020.
 
Ofcom’s newfound regulatory powers will see them in charge of censoring internet content to prevent ‘online harms’. This is a drastic alteration to the body’s previous purpose, making it Britain’s first internet watchdog and giving them power to sanction companies and platforms that account for illegal and harmful content. 
 
Thus, Dame Dawes appears to have her work cut out for her: not only will she likely have to implement significant regulatory changes to support the UK’s FTTP rollout, but will also have to oversee this immensely complicated expansion of Ofcom’s powers, particularly in relation to content giants like Facebook and Youtube. 
 
The specifics of Ofcom’s new role have yet to be defined, meaning it is unclear if they will be fielding internet-related complaints from the general public.
 
 
 
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