I spoke at the Westminster eForum event today on regulating the future mobile environment. It was a great event attended by a really good mix of people, with a lively audience.
My personal view is that self regulation is better, more nimble and more accurate than anything a legislature could impose. However, we have some interesting challenges ahead, because there are now – as I put it today – more cats to herd!
A mini summary of my talk, Twitter style:
– it’s all very complicated, lots more players
– keeping operators and apps developers happy/platform neutrality (no more banning Skype!)
– who’s behind the app/where do consumers get redress?
– payment streams getting complex/phones as quasi-credit cards
– some things never change/protection from inappropriate services and content (see in particular the good work being done by operators on the UK Code of Practice for the self regulation of new forms of content on mobiles
But my overriding theme was this: don’t let the lawyers over egg the pudding, let the market decide.
What did the others on my panel say?
– Sohail Bhatfrom MEF: figure out what your regulating first – the mobile phone environment has lots of different aspects of regulation (and Sohail had a great slide, which I’ll try and get a copy of to post here)
– Colin Browne from the Communications Consumer Panel played a video showing customers are not generally happy with mobile coverage in UK (at odds with David Stewart – Ofcom not Eurythmics – and his 94% consumer happy stat)
– Paul Whiting from Phonepayplus gave us all a reminder that premium can be clean (and wasn’t surprised that no one in the room stuck their hand up when asked ever used and adult premium rate service!)
– Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group made some very good points about how operators are still too restrictive and that we, as consumers and users, should be able to decide how we use our phone and any data carried over it – that we need an open market
– Simon Grossman of Orange had a tough slot at the end and fought valiantly against regulation: consumers have more choice, price points are lower, consumers are 94% satisfied, operators are not making super profits … so please don’t regulate!