Digital Law Alert – March

This month’s Digital Law Alert brings you a selection of technology law news from March 2022:

Full text of UK Online Safety Bill presented to Parliament

On March 17, 2022, the UK government submitted the full text of its Online security bill (OSB) in Parliament, which includes recently added restrictions on the tampering or destruction of data and enhanced penalties against senior tech company executives who violate its provisions. The OSB aims to combat the proliferation of illegal content and online activities and to ensure that children and adults using online services are not exposed to harmful content. As failure to comply with the OSB could result in a fine of up to 10% of the group’s worldwide turnover, and it contains provisions applying to all businesses which offer UK consumers the opportunity to post content on site (including messages to other users), the introduction of the new legislation will have far-reaching consequences for many businesses targeting UK consumers. Read more about the Online Safety Bill in our report here.

AI regulation: recent developments

The world of AI regulation has been busy this month. A recently published report by the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in the Digital Age/AIDA has been adopted by a majority of its committee members on March 22, 2022. The report contains a roadmap for AI in the form of a set of policy recommendations for 2030, these recommendations covering among others sustainability, research, cybersecurity and regulation. Although it largely focuses on the potential benefits of AI, risk factors such as the potential of AI to restrict the free movement of EU citizens are also considered in the report. In other AI news, TechUK posted a stand March 15 on “Governance for an AI Future: Fostering Innovation and Ensuring Trust”. The paper summarizes four key priorities for a successful AI governance regime in the UK, namely: 1. taking a risk-based approach; 2. consider the entire life cycle of AI; 3. encourage and oversee the development of an efficient AI insurance market; and 4. recognize the role of existing regulation.

UK/Singapore Digital Economy Agreement

The UK and Singapore signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) on February 25, 2022, which will enter into force once implementation procedures and ratifications have been completed on both sides. The DEA demands that the UK and Singapore support the development of secure cross-border payments through interoperability measures and acceptance of internationally accepted standards, in addition to increased digitization of contracts, the billing process and administrative documentation. It also requires promoting data protection and prohibiting misleading, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair business practices as the two nations seek to strengthen their digital alignment.

EU Digital Markets Act passed by European Parliament

The European Parliament approved the Digital Markets Bill (DMA) with EU member states on March 24, 2022, some fifteen months after it was first proposed. The DMA will require digital gatekeepers such as cloud service providers, online marketplaces and search engines to adhere to clearly defined obligations and restrictions, with the aim of reducing bottlenecks between businesses and end consumers to enable the market for digital services to thrive. Together with the EU Digital Services Act, the DMA is part of a broad overhaul of European digital law which aims to bring EU law into line with current business practices in the European digital market.

Summary of responses to the UK digital regulatory plan

On March 9, 2022, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released a Overview of the responses he has received regarding the decision of the British Government Digital regulation plan published in July 2021. As the UK government seeks to execute the plan to support the UK’s digital economy, its approach through a series of regulatory measures targeting online safety, digital competition, Data protection and cybersecurity is at the forefront of scrutiny from those companies who have commented on the Plan. Although largely supportive of the Plan’s core objectives, the need to balance growth targets with other concerns such as sustainability and consumer protection are just some of the issues that respondents seem strongly committed to.

Adoption of the EU proposal for a pilot scheme for market infrastructures based on DLT

The European Parliament adopted the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on a pilot scheme for market infrastructures based on distributed ledger technology (2020/0267(COD) at first reading on 24 March 2022. The European Commission had it -even adopted the proposed regulation in September 2020 As part of its digital finance strategy, the regulation defines, among other key provisions, the conditions that apply to the granting of authorization to operate a market infrastructure DLT and also clarifies which DLT financial instruments may be traded in the future.

Publication of the Digital, Data and Technology Playbook for UK public bodies

The British government has published its Digital, data and technology playbook provide advice on procurement and contracting for digital, data and technology projects and programs. The Playbook sets out the policy reforms that all central government departments and independent bodies must follow through applying a ‘comply or explain’ approach. Additionally, on March 28, 2022, a “Business and Vendor Management Approach to Mitigate and Prevent Legacy Computing” guide was published alongside the Playbook, providing guidance to departments on the nature of legacy IT products and how to manage them. The guide makes it clear that legacy computing includes products that are no longer supported or have extended vendor support, those that are impossible to update, and/or those that are simply no longer profitable.

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