WHO is running this blog?
The owner and principal author is Richard Allan. You can find out about me at www.ricallan.uk. Other authors may contribute over time – if you are writing on similar subjects and would be interested in publishing here then do please get in touch.
WHY are you doing this?
It is always good to go back to George Orwell’s ‘Why I Write’ when putting pen to paper. I am largely driven by two of his four motivations – “sheer egoism” and “political purpose”.
I want to share my ideas on subjects I have been thinking about for many years because I believe I have something interesting to say. And I hope they will be a useful contribution to what are very live political debates.
(There is also some spirit of “aesthetic enthusiasm” but this may be expressed more in my endless fiddling with the tech platform than in the words I use).
WHAT will you write about?
It has become a truism that the internet touches all aspects of modern life so this is a huge potential playing field. And I have worked across most areas of internet regulation so will have a tendency to go quite broad. But I do want there to be a common thread to all the content I write here and I will describe my framework for achieving this in more detail in some of the first posts I write.
WHERE are your countries of focus?
I am based in the UK and am most familiar with UK regulation so you should expect much of my thinking to reflect this. I want to develop practical, implementable solutions and this is often best done by reference to particular political systems. In many cases my reference model will be the UK, but I have also worked extensively on regulation in other countries, especially at EU level, and I will look at other models where I feel on solid ground.
WHEN will produce new posts?
I hope to produce a post every week or two throughout this year. My personal target is to have around 20 posts that cover most areas of interest by the end of 2020. Time will tell whether that works out!
HOW do you want this to work?
There are plenty of shoot-from-the-hip ideas for regulating the internet out there and new ones appear in the media on an almost daily basis. There are also people doing very good long-term research and thinking about regulation from an academic or government policy perspective.
I think I am somewhere in between – I want this to be more than running commentary on the issue of the day but also hope to move faster than more formal processes.
I like the concept in the tech world of the ‘minimally viable product’ where you launch as soon as you have something that can work and iterate with fast subsequent releases. This dynamic feedback and revision mechanism on genuinely open questions is not how governments typically do things. There are some good examples of public consultation but too often the debate only gets going when government is trying to build support for an already determined path.
I will push out some minimally viable ideas for regulation in the hope they can be chewed over and improved (or abandoned if I am way off the mark). My bias is towards robust deliberative processes as a way to get to the best policy outcomes. In that spirit, I will try to defend my ideas without becoming defensive and give credit to criticism that moves me on to better alternatives.