Techlaw News Round-Up

March 25, 2019

Report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Inquiry

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing has published its report on the Group’s Inquiry, “#NewFilters to manage the impact of social media on young people’s mental health and wellbeing”.  The report explores the positive and negative health impacts of social media, as well as putting forward recommendations to protect young social media users from potential health harms.  In particular, the authors of the report call for a duty of care on all social media companies to be established with registered UK users aged 24 and under in the form of a statutory code of conduct, with Ofcom to act as regulator. 

Consultation on junk food advertising

The UK Government has published a consultation on restricting advertising of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS foods). The government has set a target of halving childhood obesity by 2030 and one of its strategies to reduce the advertising of HFSS foods to children. Similar to the sugar tax, it also believes that restricting advertising may lead to reformulating products to make them healthier.  The primary focus of the consultation is broadcast and online advertising and introducing a 9pm-5.30am watershed for HFSS products. A watershed would be relatively straight-forward for broadcast advertising.  However, the government recognises that a watershed may be difficult to apply for particular types of advertising, for example in areas like viral marketing, some influencer marketing and advertising claims on advertisers’ own websites and social media space and seeks views on the scope of an online restriction. The consultation ends on 10 June 2019.

ICO issues fine to Vote Leave for unsolicited texts

The Information Commissioner’s Office has issued Vote Leave Limited with a monetary penalty of £40,000 for sending unsolicited text messages before the 2016 EU referendum. The ICOs investigation found that Vote Leave sent 196,154 text messages that promoted the Leave campaign with the majority including a link to its website. The investigation found that Vote Leave was unable to produce evidence that the people who received the messages had given their consent. The ICO has issued guidance on political campaigning and direct marketing.

Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation  issues Work Programme for 2019/2020

The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation has issued its work programme for 2019/20. The programme sets out the CDEI’s focus in its first year of operation. Two large-scale reviews, on targeting and bias, were identified as areas where government action is likely to be needed and prioritised based on feedback from the government’s consultation. The CDEI is an advisory body set up by the UK government and led by an independent board of expert members to investigate and advise on how the benefits of data-enabled technologies, including artificial intelligence, are maximised. The potential for bias in the use of algorithms in crime and justice will be jointly investigated by the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) and the Cabinet Office’s Race Disparity Unit. As data algorithms are increasingly being used in decision making processes, the investigation aims to consider the risk that human biases will be reflected in algorithmic recommendations. The CDEI wants to ensure that those using algorithms to improve their decision making understand that biases can integrate into data systems and put measures in place to mitigate this.