Predictions 2010: Seventh Post

December 10, 2009

{b}From Lilian Edwards, Professor of Internet Law at the University of Sheffield: see also the {Pangloss blog:} and Articles online at SSRN {here:}{/b}

1. The Digital Economy Bill will be talked out of time and fall before the election next year, but the Tories will then bring it back again, but hopefully in slightly less controversial form, ie, at least without the Henry VIIIth clause and conceivably with a more realistic test for introducing the stage 2 of disconnection.
2. Primary school children will find their curriculum so full of lessons about safe Internet use, not file-sharing, not giving away personal data on Facebook and not cyber-bullying that reading and arithmetic will have to be quietly phased out.
3. Phishing will rise to the point where banks will (a) force home customers to use dongles for all online transactions but (b) quietly stop accepting liability for all losses unless the consumer can prove they were not at fault.
4. The European Commission will begin the process of extending security breach notification to all-comers not just telcos, and succeed in preparing a first draft about the time Europe collectively settles into terminal breach disclosure ennui.
5. The Electronic Commerce Directive safe harbours, and especially the question of whether one should exist for search engines, will finally come under review because any sense of a European code will completely disintegrate with the ECJ finding for Google in the Adwords cases but against eBay in the luxury counterfeit goods cases.
6. Second Life will be wound up as a commercial concern and become a virtual worlds museum.

{b}From James Tuke, Head of Research at Intendance:{/b}

With money for web projects still tight and diminished marketing/web teams feeling the strain, after a year of online activities being largely restricted to a ‘housekeeping’ level I don’t expect to see much more significant activity in the first half of next year. A lot depends on how bullish partners feel come the new financial year, but there appears to be a real intent to invest more in ‘online’ during the second half of 2010 and make up some ground.
The hot topics will continue to be search marketing and social media, and the use of mobile technology, enabling lawyers to develop closer relationships with stakeholders and to adopt more flexible working practices.
To plug gaps in reduced teams and to help manage overhead, outsourcing is an increasingly attractive option for many firms and I am certain conversations on this topic will build next year. With this goes the expectation of a holistic service from their suppliers to help streamline online communications activities.
On the web design front, bolder concepts are making a come back as a way of standing out from the glut of blander professional services web offerings. Minimal designs that were created at the behest of good usability will start being ‘dressed up’ and added to as firms realise that you can have both good usability and eye-catching designs.
On the technology front, the line between the Internet and the desktop is becoming increasingly blurred, as software is seamlessly accessed via SaaS and the commoditising of cloud computing. It will be interesting to see how the offline versions of plug-ins (such as Adobe AIR and MS Silverlight) develop. Google is helping with Google Gears and the W3C is soon going to decide on the specification for HTML5, both of which enable off-line working.
As always, we will continue to report on how the legal profession – and other sectors – use online. Intendance celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2010, so here’s to it being a vintage year.