In Other News: This week’s techlaw news round-up

September 26, 2019

 CPS secures conviction for scammer jailed for £41.6m fraud

A defendant has been jailed for nine years after creating website scripts that mimicked the real websites of legitimate companies. This helped criminals defraud victims out of an estimated £41.6 million. He was extradited to the UK from Bulgaria and pleaded guilty to five offences. The fake websites were hosted on a server to lure victims to it by sending ‘phishing’ emails suggesting that accounts needed to be verified or that victims were due a refund. When the victim then completed the forms by inputting their personal financial information, the details were either logged or sent by email to criminals who would then use these for fraud or to sell them on the dark web. They were also provided with software that disguised their phishing sites from being identified as ‘risky’ by web browsers. Investigators established that the defendant had created website scripts for up to 53 UK based companies, or companies with a UK footprint. They estimated there were a potential half a million victims.

First UK conviction for firearms manufacture using a 3D printer

An individual has been sentenced to three years imprisonment in what is believed to be the first conviction and sentencing in the UK for manufacturing a firearm using a 3D printer. The defendant alleged the firearm was for a university film project and claimed not to be aware that the components he had made were capable of firing. He later refused to comment on what his film project was about. A search of his internet search history revealed that he had viewed videos demonstrating how to use a 3D printer to manufacture firearms which fired live ammunition. 

Irish government consults on transposition of Digital Copyright Directive

The Irish Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is consulting on the transposition of the Digital Copyright Directive 2019/790/EU into Irish law. The deadline for transposition of the Directive into national legislation is 7 June 2021. The Department intends to publish a series of public consultations regarding the transposition. The first consultation is seeking input on the transposition of articles 13 to 17 of the Directive and ends on 23 October 2019.

MEPs agree action to deal with terrorist content on the internet

MEPs have agreed to begin discussions with EU ministers on new EU rules to deal with the dissemination of terrorist content on the internet. Under the draft legislation, internet companies hosting content uploaded by users (like Facebook or YouTube) offering their services in the EU will have to remove terrorist content when told to do so by the competent national authority.  They would have to do so within one hour of receiving the order. The European Parliament adopted its position on this proposal in April 2019 and its Civil Liberties Committee has now endorsed it. European Parliament and Council negotiators will soon discuss the final text after it has been discussed in plenary. MEPs do not want platforms to be obliged to monitor the content they upload or to have to apply automatic filters. Parliament also wants to ensure that free speech and press freedom are guaranteed, so the expression of polemic or controversial views on sensitive political questions should not be considered terrorist content. 

Separately, the UK Home Office has announced funding to prevent sharing of terrorist attack videos online.

Ofcom consults on fair treatment of vulnerable consumers and trials of customer engagement remedies

Ofcom has issued a consultation on guidance suggesting practical steps that providers should consider taking to help ensure they are treating vulnerable consumers fairly and delivering good outcomes for them. Vulnerable people might face barriers to making full use of their communications services, particularly if providers don’t offer the right help and support.

It has also issued a consultation on trials of consumer engagement remedies. Ofcom’s work involves a range of regulatory measures and interventions. To help it assess the likely effectiveness of potential new measures, it is proposing a new rule which would enable it to require providers to participate in trials of customer engagement remedies. This rule, alongside Ofcom’s research and other evidence-gathering work, would be an additional tool to help customers get the best deals.

PSA publishes guidance on retaining consumer data for phone-paid services

The Phone-paid Services Authority has published new guidance about on the retention of data. It focuses on the handling and retention of consumer data. The guidance follows a consultation about the impact of the GDPR on the phone-paid services industry. It clarifies the PSA’s expectations on data retention, particularly on the handling and retention of consumer personal data by network operators and service providers, and the length of time they should be expected to retain data for; covers a broad range of data sets, including personal data; and updates and expands on the PSA’s existing draft guidance, which was published with its consultation following the introduction of the GDPR.