This Week’s Techlaw News Round-Up

July 14, 2023

UK law

UK finalises first law enforcement data adequacy decision

The UK government has made the first law enforcement adequacy decision to enable personal data to be more freely transferred from UK law enforcement to authorities in the Bailiwick of Guernsey for law enforcement purposes. The UK government is also progressing law enforcement data adequacy assessments of the Bailiwick of Jersey and the Isle of Man, with the aim of concluding these assessments soon. The UK already recognises both jurisdictions’ EU adequacy decision for UK GDPR purposes. The Data Protection (Law Enforcement) (Adequacy) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Regulations 2023 SI 2023/744 implement the decision.

CMA publishes update on investigation into Emma Sleep’s selling practices

In November 2022, the CMA began an investigation following concerns about Emma Sleep’s online selling practices – including whether its “urgency claims”, such as countdown timers and “discounts”, were misleading consumers. The CMA says that it has now found evidence that discount claims made by Emma Sleep were not consistent with the actual savings made by customers. The CMA also has concerns that the use of countdown timers and claims of high demand for certain products could mislead consumers, and therefore breach consumer protection law. Emma Sleep’s website features extensive discount offers, illustrated by “was/now” pricing, that is, where a retailer shows the original (higher) price of a product and its “now” (cheaper) price. During its investigation, the CMA found evidence that only a small fraction of Emma Sleep products were actually sold at the full price and so the discounts did not represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of Emma Sleep’s products. The CMA has now written to Emma Sleep with its concerns and outlining the ways in which it can address these, which include stopping the use of misleading countdown timers and discount offers. Emma Sleep now has the opportunity to respond to the CMA’s concerns and avoid court action by signing undertakings to change its online sales tactics.

Committee on Standards in Public Life requests update on AI regulatory practices

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has requested an update on how regulators are adapting their regulatory practices to deal with the challenges posed by AI. Its 2020 AI report recommended that all regulators should consider and respond to the challenges posed by AI in the fields for which they have responsibility, with assistance from a regulatory assurance body. Three years on, it is clear that AI developments have moved on at some pace. As such, it is following up the recommendations made in that report with the intention of publishing a formal update on progress later in the year. The Chair has, therefore, written to regulators asking them for an update on how they are currently adapting to the challenges posed by Ai in their sectors and remits.

DSIT consults on proposals for regulations on the Electronic Communications Code regarding unresponsive occupiers

The consultation seeks views on regulations to implement section 67 of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022. In particular, DSIT asks about the terms that will accompany the time-limited code rights acquired by operators following a successful application to a court for a Part 4ZA order; whether to expand the definition of “relevant land” such that the Part 4ZA process can be used to seek rights over other types of land; procedural matters relating to the application process for a Part 4ZA order; and the length of time for which time-limited rights under Part 4ZA should remain valid, up to a maximum of six years. The consultation ends on 6 September 2023.

Ofcom issues a statement on regulation of broadcast, on demand and online advertising of less healthy food and drink

Following a consultation, Ofcom has published a statement about how it will implement new restrictions on advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products on TV, on demand, and online. The new restrictions are under the Health and Care Act 2022, and will take effect from 1 October 2025. From that date, TV services and on-demand programme services (ODPS) and will be prohibited from including advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products between 5:30am and 9:00pm. Paid-for online advertisements for these products aimed at UK users will be prohibited at any time. Ofcom has confirmed that it is designating the Advertising Standards Authority as a co-regulator for the new prohibition on online advertising for less healthy food and drink products. The existing co-regulatory arrangements between Ofcom and the ASA for TV and ODPS extend to the new restrictions in these media. To reflect the new restrictions, it will amend the BCAP Code (for TV advertising) and the Broadcasting Code (for sponsorship on TV).

HM Treasury issues consultation on the Digital Securities Sandbox

The UK government is consulting on the first financial market infrastructure sandbox, referred to as the “Digital Securities Sandbox”, aimed at enabling digital securities to be tested and ultimately adopted across financial markets. It will be the first financial market infrastructure sandbox delivered under the powers granted as part of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023. The DSS will facilitate the testing and adoption of digital securities across financial markets. Through the DSS, industry will be able to set up financial market infrastructures that utilise digital asset technology, which can perform a number of activities in relation to digital securities under a temporarily modified legislative and regulatory framework. The consultation ends on 22 August 2023.

CMA issues further consultation on mobile radio network services market investigation draft order

On 5 April 2023, the CMA published its report under section 136 of the Enterprise Act 2002. It set out the CMA’s decision that features of the market for the supply of communications network services for public safety and ancillary services in Great Britain, individually or in combination, prevent, restrict or distort competition in connection with the supply of Land Mobile Radio network services for public safety in Great Britain and there is an adverse effect on competition. The CMA has now published for consultation an Order which would impose a charge control, limiting the charges Airwave Solutions and Motorola Solutions may make for services within the scope of the charge control by more than 40%. It will, nonetheless, give Airwave solutions and Motorola Solutions the opportunity to recover their reasonable costs of providing the services and to earn a reasonable level of profit in doing so, that is, the level of profit that would be expected in a well-functioning market. The consultation ends on 18 July 2023.

EU law

MEPs adopt semiconductors legislation aimed at boosting EU chips industry

The European Parliament has adopted the so-calling Chips Act, which aims to secure the EU’s supply of chips by boosting production and innovation, and establishing emergency measures against shortages. The new law, already agreed upon between Parliament and Council, aims to create a favourable environment for chip investments in Europe, by fast tracking permitting procedures and recognising their critical importance via a so-called “highest national significance statute”. Small and medium-sized businesses will also benefit from increased support, especially in the area of chip design, to boost innovation. The legislation will support projects that boost the EU’s security of supply by attracting investment and building up production capacity. During the talks with the representatives of the Council, MEPs secured €3.3 billion for research and innovation related to chips. A network of competence centres will be created to address the EU’s skills shortage and attract new talent for research, design and production. It will now have to be endorsed by the Council of ministers to become law.

European Commission presents EU strategy to lead on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds

The European Commission has adopted a new strategy on Web 4.0 and virtual worlds to steer the next technological transition and which aims to ensure an open, secure, trustworthy, fair and inclusive digital environment for EU citizens, businesses and public administrations. The strategy is in line with the 2030 objectives of the Digital Decade policy programme and three of its key pillars of digitalisation: skills, business and public services. The fourth pillar, infrastructures, is addressed by the Commission’s connectivity package and its broader efforts on computing, cloud and edge capacities. It also addresses the openness and global governance of virtual worlds and Web 4.0 as a specific strands of action.