Predictions 2015: IT Lawyers’ Selection

December 9, 2014

If I dare revert to my chocolate box metaphor, we are now into the bottom layer. But there is no drop in quality (and there is more to come) nor is it a repeat of the predictions you have already consumed. Alistair Maughan, Peter Church, Ian De Freitas, Ashley Hurst and Paul Caddy look into the future – quite a long way into the future at times – and give their expert predictions.

{b}From Alistair Maughan, Partner at Morrison & Foerster (UK) LLP{/b}

If we thought that cloud was last year’s story, 2015 will prove us wrong. Cloud computing will continue to weave its magic on the technology marketplace. The concept of embedded cloud is now common – with XaaS (whatever-you-want-as a service) sitting alongside other traditional or hybrid sourcing elements as part of an overall multi-tower approach. The EU’s attempts to regulate the cloud market will come to naught – and no one outside Brussels will be surprised.

2015 will see continued recycling of outsourcing models. I’m not predicting the return of large-scale end-to-end outsourcing projects just yet – I’m saving that for the 2018 edition. But, having seemingly gone out of fashion for a while, there will be recurrence of interest in the build-operate-transfer model of engaging offshore services delivery. Partly, this is down to native offshore providers perceiving the revival of BOT offerings as a way to restore the direct offshoring relationships built up before the rise of SIaM. Re-disintermediation, anyone?

And many more companies will join the scramble to monetize the applications that IoT creates. They will realize that nothing is really new about IoT – except maybe the potential liability issues of overselling the predictive capabilities of new IoT applications – and there’s no better or safer approach than sticking to good old-fashioned concepts of managing the supply chain, flowing-down risk and applying both privacy/security-by-design.

{b}From Peter Church, Solicitor at Linklaters LLP{/b}

{i}Machine Intelligence{/i}

Machine, or artificial, intelligence will edge towards the Peak of Inflated Expectations as Google and other US tech companies start to really focus their efforts in this area. In the short term, the technology will slump back into the Trough of Disillusionment as it fails to deliver recognisable ‘human-equivalent’ consciousness.

However, in the medium term Big Data will enable the training of machine intelligence that will have a significant impact on society. This includes the gradual erosion of white-collar work, starting with activities such as language translation and basic diagnosis.

In the long term, strong forms of machine intelligence will emerge. What this will look like is hard to predict but it is likely to be very different to our preconceived notions of ‘intelligent robots’; when Kasparov played IBM’s Deep Blue he described it as ‘beyond my understanding and I was scared.’ From a legal perspective this will lead to difficult questions about the liability for the actions of machines and the extent to which they are agents for natural or legal persons. In the very long term, we might have to consider if conscious machines ought to acquire rights of their own.

{b}From Ian De Freitas, Partner at | Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP{/b}

An EU–wide ISP blocking injunction application?

The growth of US-style group actions for data protection breaches fuelled by a more liberal interpretation of the the damages provisions in the Data Protection Act 1998, s 13, coupled with a series of major data breaches?

A challenge to the (lack of) balancing of rights in the {i}Google Spain{/i} ruling, but this time taken to the European Court of Human Rights based upon Article 10 rights?

Grimsby Town FC will finally be promoted back into the Football League?

{b}From Ashley Hurst, Partner at Olswang LLP{/b}

Notwithstanding the recently published guidance from the Article 29 Working Party, internet intermediaries still face a sea of uncertainty following the {i}Google Spain v Costeja{/i} decision. Complaints that may previously have been brought as libel or harassment claims are now being made as data protection claims and this is placing under the spotlight the relationship between data protection law and other areas of law relating to internet content in terms of intermediary liability. In particular, {i}Costeja{/i} raises questions as to whether the protections against damages claims provided by Articles 12, 13 and 14 (mere conduit, caching and hosting) and protection against general monitoring obligation in Article 15 of the E-Commerce Directive provide sufficient protection for ISPs given that matters relating to data protection were expressly excluded by Article 1(5) of the E-Commerce Directive.

Was it really the intention of Europe’s law makers in 2000 to have greater protection for ISPs in relation to libel, privacy, and IP claims than for claims in relation to the unlawful processing of data by third parties? I expect we may be hearing more on this issue in 2015 and beyond.

{b}From Paul Caddy, who is a practising solicitor at Lexis®PSL Commercial with over 16 years’ experience advising on and writing about various aspects of commercial and IT law{/b}

Futurology rewards the brave. Therefore, I predict with some confidence that by 21 October 2015 automatic dog-walkers, bar code licence plates, food hydrators—oh!—and hoverboards will become a reality. Furthermore, Dr Emmett Brown, Martin McFly and Jennifer Parker will arrive to save Marty McFly (Junior) from being set up for a crime by Griff Tannen. Or am I thinking of Back to the Future II? Answers on a virtual postcard please. In any event, whilst I doubt there’ll be the widespread use of McFly-branded hoverboards, the use of drones will challenge regulators worldwide, particularly if companies such as Go Pro succeed in launching their own camera drone by the end of the year (as is predicted). Furthermore, increased use of wearable technology will demand that authorities provide greater guidance to businesses in this area—although this is probably more of a wish than a prediction.

Finally, I foresee 2015 being followed by ‘2016’. I’m willing to put money on this last one…