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Technology & Digital round-up: 10 October 2022

Welcome to our latest round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers data reform, subject access requests, developments in Europe, robots, cyber, 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…

  • It’s being reported that the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill is on hold. In a speech given at the Conservative Party conference, the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced, “we will be replacing GDPR with our own business and consumer-friendly, British data protection system“. The Minister will be involving businesses “right from the start” in the design of the tailored system and they “won’t have to wrap their heads around complicated legislation“. Walker Morris will continue to monitor and report on developments.
  • Regulator Ofcom published its approach to competition and consumer issues in internet-based communications markets. Its main area of work over the coming year will be a market study under the Enterprise Act 2002 into cloud services in the UK. Ofcom will assess the strength of competition in cloud services and the position key companies hold in the market.
  • Catalogue retailer Easylife was fined £1.48 million for using customers’ personal information to predict their medical condition and target them with health-related products without their consent, and for making over 1.3 million predatory direct marketing calls.
  • Meanwhile, TikTok could be facing a £27 million fine. An ICO investigation found the company may have breached UK data protection law, failing to protect children’s privacy.
  • The DCMS Committee published the government response to its report on influencer culture. The report highlighted how market growth has exposed a number of regulatory gaps, particularly around advertising disclosure and protection for children.
  • The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum published the feedback from its two spring 2022 discussion papers on algorithmic processing. The DRCF says it’s conscious of the need to make sure any future interventions don’t create a disproportionate burden on the firms it regulates.
  • It’s been busy over in Europe, where the impact of legislative changes typically extends to businesses based elsewhere but operating in the EU market, including manufacturers. The European Commission adopted two proposals to adapt liability rules to the digital age, circular economy and the impact of global value chains. The first is a revised Product Liability Directive. The second is an AI Liability Directive aimed at making it easier for victims of AI-related damage to get compensation. The proposals will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and Council.
  • The European Parliament announced that, by the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation extends to laptops.
  • The European Council gave its final approval to the Digital Services Act. The DSA and the new Digital Markets Act together form the digital services package, the EU’s response to the need to regulate the digital space. They bring new rules for all digital service providers and apply 15 and six months respectively after coming into force.

…and in other news

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcased humanoid robot prototype ‘Optimus’ at the company’s annual Artificial Intelligence Day event. The plan is to mass produce the robots and make them available for sale in three to five years’ time.
  • Meanwhile, Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter is suddenly back on after a US court filing confirmed he will push ahead. The litigation between the two parties has since been postponed until 28 October to allow them to close the deal.
  • In a recent speech on the cyber dimension of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the National Cyber Security Centre’s CEO said that UK organisations – and their network defenders – should be prepared for this period of elevated alert to be here for the long haul, and the focus needs to be on building long-term resilience.
  • In related news, a Russia-linked cyberattack that took place in December could cost Gloucester City Council £1 million to finally fix.
  • According to a recent study, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has a greater climate impact than gold mining.
  • Vodafone confirmed discussions in relation to a possible merger of Vodafone UK and Three UK.
  • As part of the Made Smarter Innovation challenge, £14 million has been awarded to projects that harness digital technology to drive energy efficiency, productivity and growth across key manufacturing industries. They include using AI to improve steel production efficiency and sustainable 3D printing at scale.
  • And finally, Bruce Willis’ agent denied that the actor had sold the rights to his face to a deepfake company Deepcake.

If you have any queries or need further advice or assistance, please get in touch with SallyLuke or one of our Technology & Digital experts.

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