Technology & Digital round-up – 8 April 2022Print publication
Welcome to our latest round-up of legal and non-legal tech-related news stories. This edition covers cryptoasset regulation, data reform, electronic trade documents, cyber security, and much more.
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The legal part…
- The government announced its plan to make the UK a global cryptoasset technology hub. This includes legislating to bring stablecoins within regulation – paving their way for use as a recognised form of payment – and working with the Royal Mint to create an NFT this summer.
- In related news, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed that it will hold its first ever CryptoSprint on 10 and 11 May, exploring how the evolving world of cryptoassets could be regulated within the UK.
- The Advertising Standards Authority issued an Enforcement Notice to over 50 companies, as it continues its clampdown on misleading and irresponsible crypto ads.
- The High Court dismissed a multibillion dollar claim against bitcoin software developers. The claimant claimed to own a very substantial amount of digital currency assets that it was unable to control or use following an alleged hack which removed the private keys that would allow dealings in the assets, and information that would allow access to the keys. The claimant had argued that the developers owed fiduciary and other duties so that they should assist it to regain control and use of its assets, including writing and implementing a software patch. The court disagreed.
- Meanwhile, the European Parliament took the first steps towards agreeing new rules requiring cryptoasset transfers to be traced and identified to prevent their use in money laundering, terrorist financing and other crimes.
- In his first speech in the post, the UK’s Information Commissioner referred to the government’s proposed data reform, saying that it should not be seen as radical and that, while there is always a cost in moving from one regulation to the next, nothing in the proposals imposes additional burdens on business.
- The United States and European Commission announced an agreement in principle on a new ‘Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework’. The arrangement, yet to be legally finalised and adopted, aims to address the concerns raised in the so-called Schrems II decision which invalidated the previous EU-US Privacy Shield mechanism for transferring personal data. Activist Max Schrems has already commented that the new framework will likely be challenged in court if it is not in line with EU law.
- The Law Commission published its recommendations and draft legislation to allow for the legal recognition of electronic versions of trade documents such as bills of lading and bills of exchange, saying that the reforms could revolutionise global trade.
- The Competition and Markets Authority announced the launch of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum’s new digital research portal – bringing together over 80 pieces of recent research on emerging and future digital developments from eight regulatory bodies.
- The CMA published two papers discussing and summarising evidence on ‘online choice architecture’ – such as the order of products in search results, the number of steps needed to cancel a subscription, or whether an option is selected by default – and how it potentially causes harm to competition and consumers.
- The EU took a step closer to implementing the Digital Markets Act to comprehensively regulate the gatekeeper power of the largest digital companies, curbing Big Tech’s dominance.
…and in other news
- The National Cyber Security Centre published a blog post on the use of Russian technology products and services following the invasion of Ukraine.
- In a recent weekly threat report, the NCSC highlights key findings from the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 and notes that reported ransomware attacks have doubled in the UK.
- It was reported that thousands, if not millions, of people could have lost money in the second largest crypto hack in history.
- Global footwear brand Clarks teamed up with retail platform OtailO so that online shoppers can return purchases through a web application. The sustainable solution uses an inspection mechanism to streamline specific return scenarios and has already helped Clarks to cut waste and save costs.
- The Digital, Data and Technology Profession, part of the Civil Service, published the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook, setting out key policies and guidance for how digital projects and programmes are assessed, procured and delivered. All central government departments and their arm’s length bodies are expected to follow the 11 key policy reforms on a ‘comply or explain’ basis.
- Elon Musk joined the Twitter board after taking a $2.9 billion dollar stake in the social media platform. The company later denied that the idea for an edit button came from the Tesla CEO who held an online poll on the feature.
- Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s new social media app was branded a disaster, with a waiting list of nearly 1.5 million people unable to use it six weeks after it was launched.
- Finally, Facebook is reportedly planning on creating a web-based currency for its platform. Termed ‘Zuck Bucks’ the currency could lead to Facebook offering loans to small business. The story followed news of plans for Facebook to support NFTs on its website.
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