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Technology & Digital round-up: 17 March 2023

Welcome to our latest Technology & Digital round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers: the new Data Protection and Digital Information Bill; a new UK Science and Technology Framework; a new national fintech hub; 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 key development since the last edition of the Technology & Digital round-up was the government finally introducing the new, updated, Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to Parliament. Despite the Secretary of State’s announcement in October that the GDPR would be replaced with a new data protection system, the Bill proposes to amend our current laws, not replace them. It doesn’t create wholesale change. The intention is to update and simplify the UK’s data protection framework, reducing burdens on organisations while maintaining high data protection standards. See our briefing on the key features as described in the government’s introductory announcement. Watch out for our further, more detailed, commentary on different aspects of the Bill.
  • Following the creation of the new Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, the government published the UK Science and Technology Framework – a strategic vision which sets out 10 key actions to achieve the goal of becoming the most innovative economy in the world by 2030. A clear action plan for each strand of the framework will be in place by summer 2023, with delivery overseen by the National Science and Technology Council.
  • In related news, the government announced that it’s committing up to £3.5 billion to the future of tech and science following the Chancellor’s Spring Budget.
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office published updated guidance for businesses on AI and data protection. The government’s forthcoming white paper on AI regulation is hotly anticipated.
  • The ICO also produced new guidance to help designers, product managers and software engineers embed data protection into their products and services from the start.
  • Credit reference agency Experian was largely successful in its appeal against an ICO enforcement notice which ordered changes to how it processes personal data for direct marketing purposes. The ICO is planning to appeal, so watch this space.
  • The Law Commission advised the government that robust regulation is needed before remote driving technology is on UK roads.
  • WhatsApp, Signal and others warned they will not comply with measures in the UK’s Online Safety Bill that weaken end-to-end encryption.
  • The Financial Stability Board published a report assessing the stability risks of decentralised finance.
  • Our real estate litigators published an update on aspects of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 that will be of particular interest to landowners and telecoms operators.

…and in other news

  • A new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology – a government-backed national hub for fintech – was launched at an event in Leeds. The press release explains that the Centre won’t have a physical office presence, and instead will focus on helping firms achieve truly global scale in innovation hubs across the country, working across finance, technology, academia and policy-making.
  • William Hague and Tony Blair published a joint report setting out their ideas for a fundamental reshaping of the state around technology: “With America attracting vast investments through its Inflation Reduction Act, China seeking global leadership in the key industries of the future, and the EU moving to compete with them, we need to focus on how to mobilise and equip millions of Britons, with government and business, to get ahead. This cannot be done half-heartedly. And it cannot wait”.
  • In related news, MPs were told that the UK needs its own version of ChatGPT or it will face an uncertain future.
  • The company behind ChatGPT launched the latest version of the chatbot, GPT-4. Among other things, it can respond to images and process eight times as many words, but it still “hallucinates” facts and makes reasoning errors.
  • The FCA confirmed the decision was taken to sell the UK arm of the collapsed US Silicon Valley Bank to HSBC.
  • We mentioned in the last Technology & Digital round-up that the FCA worked with West Yorkshire Police to take action against unregistered crypto ATM operators in Leeds. It’s recently been taking similar action in East London.
  • The boss of one of the UK’s leading microchip firms is calling on the government to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in the sector, or risk firms moving abroad. Major UK chip designer Arm recently opted to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange and not London’s. We reported previously that the government is yet to publish its Semiconductor Strategy.
  • Tech startup Deep Green attracted headlines for its innovative use of small data processing centres to heat swimming pools, reducing their energy costs.
  • And finally, a shape-shifting robot in the US melted itself to escape from its miniature lab jail. It’s hoped that the material could eventually be used in medical procedures, for example minimal-invasive surgery, drug delivery, performing biopsies or removing foreign objects from the body.

If you have queries about any of the points covered in this edition of the Technology & Digital round-up, or need further advice or assistance, please get in touch with SallyLuke or one of our Technology & Digital experts.

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