What are the questions asked by network providers, systems providers, security, and infrastructure providers?


Are we digital?

Who can remember unplugging the phone and “dialling up” to send an e-mail and waiting with the “dial-up tone” for company whilst analogue technology did its work?

At the technical level, it reminds us that digital is the technology that generates, stores, processes, and transmits data in binary form. (The “digit” in digital also reminds us that data or signals are expressed as states of 0s and 1s.)

Each business may have a different view on whether it is a digital provider. Or, it may not have considered the issue at all. Or, it may have only been considered from a marketing or branding perspective, not a legal one!

But, it’s not a straight line.

At the policy level, providers of networks, systems, security and infrastructure are seen as digital providers.

In June 2022, the government issued The UK Digital Strategy aimed at promoting the growth of digital business.

This strategy does not specifically define digital but assumes a very wide application ranging from the actual technology and layers of infrastructure to a vast range of service delivery models that deploy that technology and data at many distribution layers via many intermediaries.

In the Plan for Digital Regulation (issued in July 2021), the Government also acknowledged this wide application, recognising that:

“Digital technologies and activities demand a distinct regulatory approach. This is because they have distinctive features which make digital businesses and applications unique and innovative, but may also challenge how we address risks to consumers and wider society.  These features include, but are not limited to:-

  • the accumulation, processing and portability of personal data;

  • oversight, accountability and verification of digital content;

  • transparency and use of advanced data analytics and algorithms, scale;

  • scope and network effects of digital businesses the relative ease and anonymity of disruption to digital services;

  • the global nature of data and digital;

  • the critical role of digital infrastructure and networks.”

Why does it matter?

It matters because digital businesses need to keep up!

Digital is a very active area at the policy level.

New laws and updates trickle as the regulatory machine tries to keep up with technological advancements and increasingly complex service deployment models. Overarching digital strategies, policies and white papers will flow through into a myriad of discrete regulatory and legal branches that businesses are going to need to apply to their own unique digital product/service mix.

If a business does not know what legal road its bespoke digital product/service mix places it on:-

  • the business cannot fully commit to a decision to stay in lane (current compliance); or
  • perhaps it does not know whether it is the wrong lane which could expose it to risk and/or waste time and money or
  • it may not know when to move lanes (new laws or internal changes that trigger application of existing laws, or de-application of certain laws).

It is already hard for businesses to manage general compliance.

It is harder still to consider additional compliance requirements arising from a business’ discrete digital product/service mix.

If a business can at least identify if it is potentially a “digital” provider at the policy level, it will make it a little easier to signpost to the right lane.

Conversely, not knowing whether a business’ digital product/ service mix makes it “digital” or assuming it is not digital may create strategic or operational risks, product gaps or missed opportunities.


So, what does that mean for providers of networks, systems, security and infrastructure?

It’s useful for providers of networks, systems, security and infrastructure to understand that:-

  • the digital umbrella sits wider than perhaps some would expect, and that is as much about facilitating the transmission and security of data rather than just the data or code itself,
  • they are very much a part of the digital family at a policy level, and that does and will continue to flow through into the digital legal stream.

If providers can get an understanding of their current digital regulatory profile in relation to their bespoke product/ service mix, it is going to make current compliance requirements easier to manage as well as help them keep a watching eye on truly relevant developments, which could help them get ahead in a very complex and fast-moving game.


Discover the benefits of Lawpoint 4 Digital Gateway, offering a complimentary digital legal audit for your unique digital product/service mix. Connect with Tracey at tracey@law-point.co.uk or call 01202 729444 to schedule your appointment.

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Information correct as at 11 January 2024