In Other News: This week’s Techlaw Round-Up

October 10, 2019

CMA alleges guitar firm illegally prevented price discounts online

The CMA has provisionally found that Fender Europe broke competition law by restricting online discounting for its guitars. It operated a policy designed to restrict competitive online pricing, requiring guitars to be sold at or above a minimum figure, constituting illegal resale price maintenance.  Guitars make up a significant part of the wider musical instrument sector which has an estimated turnover in the UK of around £440 million annually. Online sales of musical instruments have grown to around 40%, and the CMA says this makes it more important that people have access to competitive prices. The CMA’s findings are provisional, and no final decision has been made about whether there has been a breach of competition law. The CMA will now carefully consider any representations from the company before reaching a final decision. Separately, it has issued a fine to Casio of £3.7 million in a similar case regarding online sales of digital keyboards and pianos.

UK and US sign Data Access Agreement

The US and UK have signed an agreement about electronic data relating to terrorists, child sexual abusers and other serious criminals. The aim is to speed up investigations and prosecutions by enabling law enforcement agencies, with appropriate authorisation, to go directly to tech companies to gain access to data, rather than through governments, which can take years. Under the new scheme, the process should be reduced to a matter of weeks or days. The US will have reciprocal access, under a US court order, to data from UK communication service providers. It gives effect to the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent in February 2019 and was facilitated by the CLOUD Act in the US.

EU publishes report identifying expected security challenges to strengthening cybersecurity of 5G networks

The EU has published a report on the EU coordinated risk assessment on cybersecurity in 5G networks. This is part of the implementation of the European Commission Recommendation adopted in March 2019 to ensure a high level of cybersecurity of 5G networks across the EU.  It is based on the results of the national cybersecurity risk assessments by all EU member states. It identifies the main threats and threats actors, the most sensitive assets, the main vulnerabilities (including technical ones and other types of vulnerabilities) and a number of strategic risks.  By 31 December 2019, a toolbox should be agreed of mitigating measures to address the identified cybersecurity risks at national and Union level. By 1 October 2020, member states, in cooperation with the European Commission, should assess the effects of the Recommendation to decide if further action is needed. This assessment should take into account the outcome of the coordinated European risk assessment and of the effectiveness of the measures.  

ICO raids business suspected of illegal pension cold calls

The ICO has carried out a raid as part of an investigation into the making of nuisance calls related to pensions.  Computer equipment and documents was seized for analysis and the investigation into the matter is ongoing. The rules in regulation 21(b) of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 as amended on who can make a live marketing call in relation to pension schemes say: calls can only be made by a trustee or manager of a pension scheme or a person or firm authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority; and the person being called must have either specifically consented to being called by that company, or the caller’s relationship with the individual must meet strict criteria.

Law Society publishes guide on lawtech

The Law Society has published a guide on lawtech with the aim of helping solicitors and others delivering legal services to consider the merits of technology in their professional practice. It is designed around nine key questions about lawtech, and brings together Law Society research, information about the types of products that are available, information about the barriers and drivers to adoption and tips for successfully implementing new technology in firms. As well as summarising the key information, the guide also provides links to articles, reports and podcasts for those wanting to research lawtech in more detail. The guide is written, in particular, for smaller firms and sole practitioners, who typically lack the resources of larger legal businesses when considering adopting new technology. It provides ideas on how to align technology with your business strategy.

Nominet issues consultation on reducing phishing attacks

Nominet is consulting on .UK policy issues. The consultation seeks input on three important issues: reducing the use of .UK domain names for phishing attacks; implementing law enforcement landing pages following suspensions for criminal activity; and implementing a .UK drop list to provide a transparent and orderly process for the re-registration of expired domains. The consultation ends on 16 December 2019.