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Technology & Digital round-up: 18 August 2023

Welcome to our latest Technology & Digital round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers: the new Electronic Trade Documents Act; reforming the UK’s product safety regime; the latest cyber security guidance; AI developments; and much more.

Click here to download our latest GC report on digital adoption, and watch out for our upcoming series on demystifying tech.

The Topline

“In this month’s edition of the Technology & Digital round-up we feature two examples of changes to outdated laws – one confirmed and one proposed – to keep pace with technology. The Electronic Trade Documents Act, which introduces digital trade documents, is set to radically reduce costs and waste and increase efficiencies and security, while proposed product safety reforms include accommodating the shift to online shopping and regulating innovations such as internet connected devices and AI.”  – Luke Jackson

Luke Jackson

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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 Electronic Trade Documents Act comes into force on 20 September 2023. Granting electronic trade documents the same legal status as physical trade documents is estimated to deliver a more than £1 billion boost to the UK economy over the next decade. See the press releases from the government and Law Commission, which recommended the changes.
  • The government’s consulting until 24 October 2023 on plans to overhaul the UK’s product safety laws to make them fit for the digital age, including introducing e-labelling. See the press release.
  • The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee wrote to the Business and Trade Secretary, setting out recommendations on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. Stressing that timely implementation is key, the Committee also said the Bill mustn’t be seen as an exercise in ‘bashing big tech’.
  • The government’s consulting until 27 September 2023 on the design, scope and impact of the proposed ban on cold calling for consumer financial services and products, including cryptoassets.
  • The government also announced plans to introduce new rules to tackle illegal paid-for online adverts, putting more responsibilities on major players across the online advertising supply chain.
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office and Competition and Markets Authority jointly called for all organisations, web designers and developers to stop using harmful design practices that could undermine people’s control over their personal information and lead to worse consumer and competition outcomes. Cookie consent banners are a clear example.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority’s Digital Sandbox was made permanent on 1 August 2023.
  • The Committee of Advertising Practice discussed avoiding misleading imagery in ads.
  • Meta confirmed it’s changing the legal basis used to process certain data for behavioural advertising for people in the EU, EEA and Switzerland from ‘legitimate interests’ to ‘consent’. It previously switched from ‘contractual necessity’ after a much-anticipated ruling by the Irish data regulator. The ICO’s assessing what this means for information rights in the UK.
  • The European Commission’s investigating whether Microsoft may have breached EU competition rules by tying or bundling Teams to Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

…and in other news

  • The National Cyber Security Centre published new guidance to help organisations manage the risks of ‘shadow IT’ – unknown IT assets used within an organisation for business purposes.
  • The NCSC announced its Cyber Incident Response scheme is available to a wider range of organisations, not just those running networks of national significance.
  • The NCSC and its international allies warned organisations about the importance of updating their systems after revealing that malicious cyber actors have been routinely targeting older software vulnerabilities.
  • The government appointed two leading experts to spearhead preparations for the UK’s global AI safety summit, as £13 million in funding was announced for 22 projects exploring how to develop and use AI in healthcare.
  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is consulting until 24 August 2023 on draft guidance recommending the use of nine AI technologies in radiotherapy treatment planning.
  • Meanwhile, leading AI companies in the US signed up to voluntary commitments to manage the risks posed by AI.
  • The Culture, Media and Sport Committee published its ‘Connected tech: smart or sinister?’ report. Recommendations include the ICO developing existing draft employee monitoring guidance into a principles-based code for designers and operators of workplace connected tech. The Committee says employee monitoring in smart workplaces should be done only in consultation with, and with the consent of, those being monitored.
  • A world-first cinema in Bristol will record audiences’ biometric responses, including their heart rate, eye movement and brain activity. Researchers will be able to monitor the electrical properties of people’s skin to gauge their subconscious emotional and sympathetic responses.
  • OpenAI’s CEO launched Worldcoin, a project giving people digital coins in exchange for a scan of their eyeballs. In a statement, the ICO reminded organisations they must conduct a data protection impact assessment before starting any processing that’s likely to result in high risk, such as processing special category biometric data.
  • And finally, don’t try this at home; a New Zealand supermarket app which uses AI to generate meal plans came up with a recipe for chlorine gas, after customers started experimenting with inputting non-food household items.

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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