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

October 24, 2019

CAA publishes requirements for drone operators’ licences

The CAA has published its requirements for mandatory registration and education of drone operators, which take effect on 30 November 2019, although the online scheme goes live from 5 November. There will be two elements to the online system. Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to register as an operator. The cost for this will be £9 renewable annually. Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years. Holders of current CAA permissions or exemptions for drone operations will be exempt from sitting the test. 

CAP issues call for evidence on children’s recognition of online advertising

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has issued a call for evidence on children’s ability to recognise online marketing communications. Recognising when someone is being marketed to is important for all consumers. Therefore, it is a central requirement of the UK’s advertising codes. However, it is especially important for younger children who are still developing their understanding of the commercial world around them. CAP recently developed detailed guidance on recognition in online environments. After carrying out a 12-month review of the guidance, it is keen to update its understanding of the evidence base and ensure that its policies on children’s recognition are in the right place. The consultation ends on 5 December.

BEUC issues report on AI for consumers

The European consumer body BEUC has issued a report on AI for consumers. It says that AI is changing the way in which consumer markets and our societies function, powering new types of products and services, such as autonomous cars and smart devices. This benefits consumers, but the widespread use of AI also raises many concerns. Consumers are at risk of being manipulated and becoming subject to discriminatory treatment and arbitrary, non-transparent decisions. It is essential to ensure that consumers have strong and tangible rights to defend themselves when necessary and which empower them to reap the benefits of the digital transformation of societies. The report outlines a set of AI rights for consumers, which relate to principles that ensure a fair, safe, and just society and set to guarantee a high level of consumer protection. These rights should be made concrete and translated into enforceable rules so that AI serves consumers and does not harm them. Legislators must make sure that AI products and services are safe and that risks – including discrimination, loss of privacy, loss of autonomy, and lack of transparency – are avoided. In particular, consumers should have the following rights: right to transparency, explanation, and objection; right to accountability and control; right to fairness; right to non-discrimination; right to safety and security; right to access to justice and right to reliability and robustness.

EDPS carries out investigation into IT contracts

In April 2019, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) launched an investigation into the use of Microsoft products and services by EU institutions. The investigation identified the Microsoft products and services used by the EU institutions and assessed whether the contractual agreements concluded between Microsoft and the EU institutions are fully compliant with data protection rules. The EDPS also considered whether there were appropriate measures in place to mitigate risks to the data protection rights of individuals when EU institutions use Microsoft products and services. Though the investigation is still ongoing, preliminary results reveal serious concerns over the compliance of the relevant contractual terms with data protection rules and the role of Microsoft as a processor for EU institutions using its products and services. Similar risk assessments were carried out by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security confirmed that public authorities in member states face similar issues.  

Network and Information Systems (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 laid

The Network and Information Systems (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 have been laid before parliament. They are being made under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to amend the Network and Information Systems Regulations (SI 2018/506), which came into force on 10 May 2018 and implemented Directive (EU) 2016/1148. The 2019 Regulations are being made to correct deficiencies arising as a result of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Ofcom publishes annual report on BBC

The Royal Charter requires Ofcom to publish a report each year about its functions as the BBC’s independent regulator, and which assesses the BBC’s compliance with the requirements of Ofcom’s Operating Framework and associated documents. Separately, Ofcom must report at least annually on the BBC’s performance against the measures Ofcom sets alongside the Operating Licence. The report assesses the BBC’s performance in delivering its Mission and Public Purposes, protecting fair and effective competition within the areas in which it operates, and securing editorial standards in BBC programmes. The report finds that the BBC is broadly delivering on its remit through its provision of a significant volume of news and current affairs, a wide range of learning and educational content, as well as high-quality, distinctive and creative content for all audiences across its mainstream and specialist services. However, Ofcom has asked for the BBC’s next annual plan and budget setting process to set out a plan for addressing certain recurring themes: engagement with young people; representation and portrayal; commitment to transparency; and commitment to new original UK programmes, as well as how it will engage with the recommendations of a related review of news and current affairs.

UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy published

The UK government has published its new strategy for harnessing the economic and social benefits of unmanned aircraft, by reducing the risk posed by malicious or illegal use. The rapid development of drone technology presents significant commercial and leisure opportunities. However, drones can also be used to facilitate and commit crimes, and if flown recklessly or negligently can pose a risk to public safety. The UK Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Strategy sets out the government’s approach to mitigating the highest-harm risks to the UK resulting from the illegal use of aerial drones. These include: facilitating terrorist attacks; facilitating crime, especially in the UK’s prisons; and disrupting critical national infrastructure.