Technology & Digital round-up – 10 December 2021Print publication
Welcome to our latest round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers recent CMA and ICO activity, the new Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, cyber attacks, digital trade and much more. If you would like to receive this and other similar updates direct to your inbox, please click here. Get in touch with one of our experts below if you have any queries or need advice or assistance.
The legal part…
- We reported in an earlier edition of the round-up that the Competition and Markets Authority fined Facebook £50.5 million for breaching an order imposed during the investigation into Facebook’s purchase of online database and search engine Giphy. The CMA has since blocked the deal and requires Facebook (now Meta) to sell Giphy, after finding that the deal could harm social media users and UK advertisers.
- The CMA recently hosted the first dedicated two-day summit with the heads of the G7 competition authorities to discuss cooperation across digital markets. See the press release.
- We referred in our previous edition to the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill which was introduced to Parliament on 24 November 2021. A copy of the Bill itself (which creates, among other things, a new regulatory scheme to make smart products more secure against cyber attacks) and the explanatory notes have now been published. Details of the relevant security requirements to be complied with will be set out in separate regulations.
- In related news, see our recent briefing on some of the telecommunication/infrastructure aspects of the Bill and what landowners and telecoms operators need to know.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office flagged a paper it has written on end-to-end encryption. It concludes that it does not see value in proposals that seek to weaken end-to-end encryption, but it does see value in accelerating innovations that allow the detection of harmful content without compromising privacy.
- The ICO fined the Cabinet Office £500,000 for disclosing postal addresses of the 2020 New Year Honours recipients online. It had failed to put appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of people’s information.
- The ICO also announced its provisional intent to impose a potential fine of just over £17 million on Clearview AI Inc, following an investigation into the company’s use of images, data scraped from the internet and the use of biometrics for facial recognition.
- The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum launched a technology horizon scanning programme, to provide a coherent view of new and emerging digital markets and technologies.
- The Bank of England published the minutes of the first meeting of the CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) Engagement Forum. The Bank’s and HM Treasury’s aim is to move towards a stance on whether or not a CBDC is needed in the UK. Were there a decision to proceed, progressive phases of development, design and technology work would commence.
…and in other news
- The government announced that it has developed an algorithmic transparency standard for government departments and public sector bodies, one of the first countries in the world to do so.
- It was reported that a possible supply chain cyber attack left more than 300 Spar supermarkets unable to process credit card payments. The National Cyber Security Centre’s guidance on how to effectively detect, respond to and resolve cyber incidents can be found here.
- As set out in its 2025 UK Border Strategy, the government is looking to use data, technology and trusted relationships to deliver robust upstream compliance which would allow processes to be moved away from the frontier and facilitate improved flow of goods. It is calling on stakeholders with an interest in movement of goods to submit their interest in piloting this ‘Ecosystem of Trust’ concept to develop a world leading technology enabled border.
- The Board of Trade published a new report on digital trade which, according to the press release, outlines the huge opportunities digital trade presents for boosting UK exports, turbocharging economic growth, and creating high-paying jobs across all parts of the UK. It was shortly followed by news of a bumper digital trade deal with Singapore.
- With a USD1.1 billion valuation, the Bank of London launched on 30 November 2021 as the world’s first purpose-built global clearing, agency and transaction bank. The Bank’s founder and Group Chief Executive said in a press release that veteran banking experts, leading creative innovators and visionary technologists had been brought together to build, patent and validate truly game-changing technologies and innovations to transform the very fundamentals of banking.
- Ubisoft is set to become the first major gaming company to launch in-game NFTs, following the announcement of its new “Digits” system. Digits will utilise the Tezos blockchain, which is claimed to be more energy efficient than some rival blockchains. The initial batch of NFTs will be limited edition items for the ‘Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint’ game.
- The UK will phase out 2G and 3G mobile services by 2033, as mobile-network operators agreed on the timetable to wind down the technology. The move will free up radio waves for 5G (and eventually) 6G networks that will power automated vehicles, drones and VR.
- It was reported that Google is suing two Russian individuals it claims are behind a sophisticated botnet operation that has silently infiltrated more than 1 million Windows machines worldwide.
- Amazon suffered its third outage this year. The outage affected Amazon Web Services, the biggest cloud computing company in the world, which provides services to governments, companies and universities.
- Google released data of search term trends in 2021: with ‘Euros’ being the UK’s most searched term of the year. ‘Covid vaccine’ was the most searched news event, ‘Squid Game’ topped the list of TV shows, ‘when will lockdown end?’ was one of the most frequently asked questions and ‘impeachment meaning’ the most commonly requested definition.