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Technology & Digital round-up: 1 July 2022

Welcome to our latest round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers digital assets and the courts, IP implications of new technologies, electronic signatures, vertical farming, and much more.

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Get in touch with Sally Mewies or Luke Jackson if you have any queries or need advice or assistance.

The legal part…

  • The government published the response to its consultation on how AI should be dealt with in patent and copyright systems. It plans to introduce a new copyright and database exception which allows text and data mining for any purpose. There are no current plans to change copyright law for computer-generated works or patent law for AI-devised inventions. Most respondents felt that AI is not yet advanced enough to invent without human intervention, although both areas will be kept under review.
  • In a significant decision on the recognition and protection of ownership of digital assets, the Commercial Court granted an injunction over stolen NFTs held on constructive trust, finding that there is “at least a realistically arguable case” that NFTs are to be treated as property as a matter of English law. Watch out for our upcoming briefing on this exciting development.
  • We’ve reported previously on different aspects of the litigation between Tulip Trading Ltd (a company owned by Dr Craig Wright, who claims to be the creator of Bitcoin) and software developers the Bitcoin Association for BSV. In a public statement about settlement of the claim, the Bitcoin Association explains it has agreed to release software which will make it possible for a Notary Service Provider to verify court orders asserting the rightful ownership of coins misappropriated in hacking incidents, and broadcast them to mining networks in machine readable language to allow miners to freeze the coins.
  • In related news, in an industry first, a US court approved a request to serve a defendant via digital token, with a hyperlink embedded into the notice sent to the defendant’s blockchain address.
  • HM Land Registry accepted the first completed conveyancing transaction using an electronic signature which does not require a witness. According to tech provider DocuSign, the process of transferring title took 24 hours rather than the norm of six to eight weeks. See our update on electronic execution for more information on electronic signatures generally.
  • According to an independent legal review, there is an urgent need for new laws governing biometric technologies which are being increasingly used outside the police, including by employers, schools and retailers.
  • The ICO published a new guide on its SME web hub to make data protection more accessible for beginners and provide small organisations with basic steps and tips.
  • In an open letter to public authorities, the Information Commissioner set out a revised approach to public sector enforcement. The two-year trial will see increased use of the ICO’s wider powers, including warnings, reprimands and enforcement notices, with fines only issued in the most serious cases.
  • The ICO also published guidance from international data protection and privacy authorities for organisations and the public on how to prevent, detect and mitigate the risk of credential stuffing attacks, identified as a significant and growing cyber threat to personal information.
  • The FCA is using data to tackle online fraud faster by scanning approximately 100,000 websites created every day to identify those that appear to be scams. This is part of an update on its data strategy which includes plans to invest heavily in its use of data in 2022/23, recruiting a significant number of skilled roles, across AI, analytics and data science as well as cloud engineering and digital technology.
  • The High Court ruled that it’s unlawful for the security services to obtain individuals’ communications data from telecom providers without having prior independent authorisation, when carrying out criminal investigations.

…and in other news

  • Lee Crook, Director in our Commercial Group, wrote an insight piece in the CCTA Magazine on ‘Moving to the cloud: Horizon scanning for financial services firms’.
  • In a recent speech, the head of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said that ransomware remains the biggest global cyber threat most organisations must manage.
  • The government published its response to the consultation on embedding standards and pathways across the cyber profession by 2025.
  • The amount of electricity consumed by the largest cryptocurrency networks has decreased by up to 50% as the crypto crisis continues (electricity consumption of the bitcoin network still reportedly equates to the annual consumption of Argentina).
  • A high-tech vertical farm, one of the largest in Europe, opened recently in Bedford. No soil or chemical pesticides are used in the crop production, and 95% less water than in traditional farming. Visit our Factory of the Future site to help with your smart technology needs.
  • Microsoft is limiting access to its facial recognition tool in an overhaul of its AI ethics policies.
  • Google Cloud announced new programs and tools for sustainable transformation to help companies and governments reach their climate goals.

More from Walker Morris

  • Want to watch a previous webinar? Visit our digital academy, home to a library of digital content including webinars, our bite-sized video nuggets and podcasts, including our 60 second videos on what is an NFT and what is a blockchain.
  • Want to learn more from our Technology & Digital experts and be the first to receive important updates, developments and events from the team? Then visit our #WMTechTalk page or sign up for our newsletter, the Technology & Digital round-up here.



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