Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (Commencement No. 12) Regulations 2020 in force, Online Intermediation Services for Business Users (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 made, Digital Identity consultation, AI consultation and more in this week’s round-up of techlaw news from the past week.
Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (Commencement No. 12) Regulations 2020 in force
The Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (Commencement No. 12) Regulations 2020/766 came into force on 22 July 2020. They bring into force almost all of the remaining provisions in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. In particular, they bring into force section 12 and Schedule 2 which remove from various public authorities their powers to obtain communications data outside of the 2016 Act without the consent of the telecommunications operator or the postal operator holding the communications data. They also bring into force paragraph 54 of Schedule 10 which repeals Chapter 2 of Part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. They bring into force various other provisions in Schedule 10 to the 2016 Act which make changes consequential to the removal of these powers to obtain communications data. The Regulations also bring into force amendments in section 243(1)(a) of the 2016 Act to section 65 of the 2000 Act which relate to the scope of the powers of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal to investigate complaints relating to the conduct that may be permitted or required under Part 3 of the 2016 Act. Section 243(1)(h) is also brought into force with the effect that section 65 of the 2000 Act is amended to bring complaints about the giving, or purported giving, of a notice under section 49 of the 2000 Act (notices requiring disclosure) within the scope of the Tribunal.
Online Intermediation Services for Business Users (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 made
The Online Intermediation Services for Business Users (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/796 have been made. The Regulations amend the retained version of Regulation 2019/1150 on promoting fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services (Online Intermediation Services Regulation) to ensure that it functions correctly in domestic law at the end of the Brexit transition period. The rules and requirements applying to platforms and businesses under the Online Intermediation Services Regulation will remain substantively the same as before the end of the transition period. Amendments to the retained Platform to Business Regulation include: giving the Secretary of State the power to select those organisations designated to bring enforcement proceedings against platforms and removing the requirement to communicate such designation to the European Commission; applying where businesses and their consumers are located within the UK rather than within the EU; imposing restrictions on when platforms may identify mediators outside of the UK rather than outside of the EU and removing references that no longer make sense in a domestic context, such as member states and the European Commission.
European Commission consults on European Digital Identity
The European Commission has launched a consultation on European Digital Identity. With the adoption of the eIDAS Regulation in 2014, the EU introduced a cross-border framework for trusted digital identities and the so-called trust services such as electronic signatures that can be used to sign documents in the online world. The eIDAS Regulation aims at ensuring secure and seamless electronic interactions. The Commission will assess to what extent the eIDAS framework remains fit for purpose and whether it needs amending in light of experience and the latest technological, market and legal developments. The Commission believes that universally accepted public electronic identity (eID) is necessary for consumers to have access to their data and securely use the products and services they want without having to use unrelated platforms to do so and unnecessarily sharing personal data with them. A single, trusted, secure and convenient option to identify across the internet unlocks the digital world, protects against cybersecurity threats and empowers users. The Commission will consider revising the eIDAS Regulation to improve its effectiveness, extend its benefits to the private sector and promote trusted digital identities for all Europeans. The consultation ends on 2 October 2020.
European Commission consults on AI – ethical and legal requirements
The European Commission has published an initial inception impact assessment following its Communication on AI in February 2020. It concerns a possible initiative aimed at addressing a number of ethical and legal issues raised by AI. The ultimate objective is to foster the development and uptake of safe and lawful AI that respects fundamental rights across the Single Market by both private and public actors while ensuring inclusive societal outcomes. A full impact assessment is being prepared to support the preparation of this initiative and to inform the Commission's decision. The completion of the impact assessment is scheduled for December 2020. The consultation ends on 10 September 2020.
UK government to consult on banning online advertising for HFSS foods
The UK government has issued its updated obesity strategy in light of the coronavirus pandemic and previous consultations carried out by Theresa May’s government on restricting advertising and promotions for HFSS foods. The government has now announced that it will, among other things, ban the advertising of HFSS products being shown on TV and online before 9pm. It also intends to will consult as soon as possible on how it could introduce a total HFSS advertising restriction online. Any changes are unlikely to take effect until 2022.
UK government consults on the promotion of certain types of cryptoassets
The UK government has launched a consultation seeking views on a government proposal to bring the promotion of certain types of cryptoassets within scope of financial promotions regulation. The measure is intended to enhance consumer protection, while continuing to promote responsible innovation. Separately, the government is also consulting on proposals to strengthen the
Financial Conduct Authority’s ability to ensure the approval of financial promotions of unauthorised firms operates effectively. Both consultations end on 25 October 2020.
Consultation issued on implementing the European Electronic Communications Code
Ofcom has published a consultation on revised proposals to implement the new European Electronic Communications Code. In December 2019, it consulted on a broad package of protections for customers that reflect changes to the European regulatory framework. It is now consulting on two revised proposals before it publishes its final decisions in Autumn 2020: it is proposing to revise the scope of its annual best tariff information rules; and revising its proposed definitions for ‘microenterprise’ and ‘small enterprise’ customers, and not-for-profit organisations. The consultation ends on 11 September 2020.
Ofcom releases extra spectrum for wireless services
Following a consultation earlier this year, Ofcom is releasing airwaves in the lower 6 GHz band available for wifi services, without the need for a licence. It is also updating technical requirements for wifi routers to ease congestion in wireless networks with the aim of creating a better experience for users. It also aims to improve access to technology like high definition streaming, virtual reality and augmented reality.
Ofcom updates on review on broadband pricing
Ofcom had concerns that many customers in the broadband market, especially some who are facing challenges, are not benefiting from the best offers and discounts available and carried out a review. In September 2019 it secured commitments from BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to reduce prices automatically for vulnerable customers who are out of contract. It has now secured commitments from EE, Plusnet and Sky to do the same. EE and Plusnet have now also agreed to offer all existing customers access to new customer prices.
ICO publishes first reports from regulatory sandbox
The ICO has published its first reports published from its regulatory sandbox, outlining the outcomes of collaborations between the ICO and two of the organisations who were among the participants in the pilot phase of the scheme. The beta phase set out to road test the scheme ahead of a full launch. The pandemic affected businesses and organisations across the board in different ways. As a result some work was rescoped. Some projects have been extended and others are nearing their natural ends. The ICO says that the JISC and Heathrow Airport Ltd reports mark the first steps towards achieving the aim of the sandbox: to show that data protection can be combined with real world innovative solutions. Within the sandbox, JISC has developed a Wellbeing Code of Practice with universities and colleges who want to investigate the use of student activity data to improve their provision of student support services. Heathrow Airport’s Automation of the Passenger Journey programme aimed to streamline the passenger journey by using biometrics.
Report published on EU member states' progress in implementing EU Toolbox on 5G cybersecurity
The European Commission has published a report in cooperation with the NIS Group and ENISA. The report analyses the progress made by member states in implementing the measures recommended in the conclusions of the EU Toolbox on the cybersecurity of 5G networks, which was published on 29 January 2020. All member states reported that concrete steps have been taken to implement the Toolbox. Most member states carried out a gap analysis and launched a process to review and upgrade existing security measures and enforcement mechanisms. Many member states have already adopted or are well advanced in preparing more advanced security measures on 5G cybersecurity. However, work is still ongoing on defining the content and scope of the measures and in some cases, political decisions still need to be made in this regard. In addition, even where measures are in progress or being planned, not all member states have shared detailed information about every measure, due to diverse stages in the national implementation process or for national security reasons. Nevertheless, a number of findings can be formulated based on the analysis presented in the report regarding the implementation of the Toolbox and areas where specific attention is needed in the next phases of the implementation of the Toolbox at national and/or EU level.
New Commission to Address AI and Good Governance in Public Policy
A new commission has been formed by Oxford University to advise world leaders on effective ways to use AI and machine learning in public administration and governance. The Oxford Commission on AI and Good Governance (OxCAIGG) will bring together academics, technology experts and policymakers to analyse the AI implementation and procurement challenges faced by governments around the world. Led by the Oxford Internet Institute, the Commission will make recommendations on how AI–related tools can be adapted and adopted by policymakers for good governance now and in the near future. Its future working papers will look at the uses of AI in public service, including their development, procurement and implementation and provide evidence about the real-world impact of AI.
Consultation on space flight regulations launched
The UK government is consulting on draft regulations for the UK’s space flight programme. The regulations to support the Space Industry Act 2018 will enable a range of commercial space flight and associated activities to take place in the UK, including from any of the seven proposed spaceports across Great Britain, paving the way for the UK’s first ever space launch. A target has been set to grow the UK’s share of the global space market to 10% by 2030 with the government having awarded grants to establish commercial, vertical and horizontal small satellite launch from UK spaceports. The consultation seeks views on the various draft regulations and guidance documents needed to: operate a spaceport; carry out space flight activities; and provide range control services. The information comprises the: space industry regulations; accident investigation regulations; and appeals regulations. It also includes associated guidance documents, the regulator’s licensing rules and an impact assessment.