This Week’s Techlaw News Round-Up

January 31, 2020

Data Protection (Independent Complaint) Bill receives first reading in House of Lords

The Data Protection (Independent Complaint) Bill has received its first reading in the House of Lords. It amends the Data Protection Act 2018 to grant representative bodies and organisations power to exercise independent complaint and remedy rights on behalf of data subjects. The date for second reading is yet to be decided.

CMA identifies legal issues with StubHub’s ticket selling website

As part of regular monitoring, the Competition and Markets Authority has identified issues with the information about some tickets for sale via StubHub’s UK website. The CMA is concerned that StubHub is not complying with commitments it made following a CMA consumer law investigation. New issues have also been identified: failing to adequately warn people that tickets may not get them into an event; using misleading messages about ticket availability; targeting UK consumers with tickets for events listed on overseas websites, which may not comply with UK law; failing to ensure people know exactly where they will sit in a venue; and failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are displayed. StubHub has indicated that it will make changes to its website. If the changes do not go far enough to address its concerns, the CMA will consider taking court action. The CMA is also continuing to monitor resale site viagogo. As part of this, it has published an update from the latest independent review of viagogo’s compliance with a court order, which did not find any concerns.

EPO publishes grounds for its decision to refuse two patent applications naming a machine as inventor

The EPO has published the reasons for its recent refusal of two European patent applications in which an AI system was designated as the inventor. They were refused on the grounds that they do not meet the legal requirement of the European Patent Convention that an inventor designated in the application has to be a human being, and not a machine. In both applications a machine called “DABUS”, which is described as “a type of connectionist artificial intelligence”, is named as the inventor. The applicant stated that he had acquired the right to the European patent from the inventor by being its successor in title, arguing that as the machine’s owner, he was assigned any intellectual property rights created by the machine. In its decisions, the EPO considered that the legal framework means that the inventor designated in a European patent must be a natural person. The EPO said that various national courts have issued decisions to this effect. Moreover, the designation of an inventor is mandatory as it bears a series of legal consequences, notably to ensure that the designated inventor is the legitimate one and that he or she can benefit from rights linked to this status. To exercise these rights, the inventor must have a legal personality that AI systems or machines do not enjoy. Finally, giving a name to a machine is not sufficient. The decision may be appealed.

European Commission endorses EU toolbox and sets out next steps

The Commission is endorsing the joint toolbox of mitigating measures agreed by EU Member States to address security risks related to the rollout of 5G. This follows the European Council’s call for a concerted approach to the security of 5G and the ensuing Commission Recommendation of March 2019. Member states have since identified risks and vulnerabilities at national level and published a joint EU risk assessment. Through the toolbox, the member states are committing to move forward in a joint manner based on an objective assessment of identified risks and proportionate mitigating measures. With its Communication, the Commission is launching relevant actions within its competence and is calling for key measures to be put in place by 30 April 2020 and to prepare a joint report on the implementation in each member state by 30 June 2020.

Guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector published

The Government Digital Service and the Office for Artificial Intelligence have published joint guidance on how to build and use artificial intelligence (AI) in the public sector.

Ofcom changes rules for broadband trials

Ofcom is changing its rules with the aim of assisting broadband companies to upgrade customers to faster broadband more efficiently, and support trials aimed at providing customers with newer broadband and telephone services. Openreach will carry out trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall to test the processes for moving customers off older broadband and  home phone services. Ofcom is permitting Openreach to offer discounts for certain broadband services in these areas. The trials will be exempt from rules that require Openreach to provide services at the same price everywhere in the UK.  Current rules also mean Openreach must install new broadband connections within a set timeframe. A new process will allow upgrades  to be made in bulk batches at a street cabinet, reducing the cost per customer. Ofcom is making these orders exempt from the rules that require them to be completed within a set timeframe.

House of Commons Library Digital Services Tax briefing

The House of Commons Library has published a very useful briefing paper on the Digital Services Tax due to come int force in April this year. The paper discusses the background to the Government’s proposals, announced in the 2018 Budget, to introduce the tax, in the context of wider concerns as to the challenge of taxing digital businesses and moves to agree reforms to the international tax system.

Other news published on this week