This Week's Techlaw News Round-up

Amended Surveillance Camera Code of Practice laid before UK parliament, CDDO publishes Algorithmic Transparency Standard, CMA consults on Annual Plan 2022 to 2023, Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum launches technology horizon scanning programme and more in this week’s round-up of UK, EU and international techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

Amended Surveillance Camera Code of Practice laid before UK parliament

The Amended Surveillance Camera Code of Practice has been laid before parliament. It has been issued by the Secretary of State under Sections 29 to 31 of Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. It provides guidance on the appropriate and effective use of surveillance camera systems by relevant authorities (as defined by Section 33(5) of PoFA 2012) in England and Wales who must, under Section 33(1) of PoFA 2012, have regard to the Code when exercising any functions to which the code relates. Other operators and users of surveillance camera systems in England and Wales are encouraged to adopt the code voluntarily. It is a significant step in the ongoing process of delivering the government’s commitment to the “further regulation of CCTV” which it believes is a task that is best managed in gradual and incremental stages. As understanding and application of the Code increases, the government may consider including other bodies as relevant authorities who will have to have regard to the Code.

CDDO publishes Algorithmic Transparency Standard

The CDDO has launched its Algorithmic Transparency Standard which is aimed at helping public sector organisations provide clear information about the algorithmic tools they use, and why they are using them. Algorithmic transparency means being open about how algorithmic tools support decisions. This includes providing information on algorithmic tools and algorithm-assisted decisions in a complete, open, understandable, easily-accessible, and free format. The standard is made up of an algorithmic transparency data standard and algorithmic transparency template and guidance that helps public sector organisations provide information to the data standard. The Algorithmic Transparency Standard is part of the government’s National Data Strategy. The strategy has a commitment to explore an appropriate and effective way to deliver greater transparency on algorithm-assisted decision making in the public sector. The National AI Strategy reiterated this commitment, with an action to conduct research that will help develop a cross-government standard for algorithmic transparency. 

CMA consults on Annual Plan 2022 to 2023

The CMA is consulting on its Annual Plan. The Plan explains how the CMA will protect consumers, promote competition and help support the economy. It aims to encourage innovation, productivity, and sustainable growth to benefit all nations and regions of the UK. The consultation sets out five themes on which the CMA proposes to focus in 2022 to 2023: protecting consumers from unfair behaviour by businesses, during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic; fostering competition to promote innovation, productivity and long-term growth right across the UK; promoting effective competition in digital markets; supporting the transition to low carbon growth, including through the development of healthy competitive markets in sustainable products and services; and delivering the CMA’s new responsibilities and strengthening its position as a global competition and consumer protection authority. The consultation ends on 21 January 2022.

Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum launches technology horizon scanning programme

The Digital Regulation Co-operation Forum (DRCF) has launched a technology horizon scanning programme, with the aim of providing a coherent view of new and emerging digital markets and technologies. The DRCF, which is formed of the CMA, ICO, Ofcom and the FCA, hopes to bring benefits for regulators, consumers and industry by “doing more to join up thinking on future technologies”.

General guidance on electronic court bundles issued by Judiciary UK

Judiciary UK has published guidance on electronic court bundles. The guidance is intended to ensure a level of consistency in the provision of electronic bundles (e-bundles) for court hearings (but not tribunal hearings) in a format that promotes the efficient preparation for, and management of, a hearing. It is subject to any specific guidance by particular courts or directions given for individual cases. It updates and replaces previous guidance published in May 2020.

ICO issues its largest fine to tackle illegal pension cold calls

The ICO has fined EB Associates Group Limited £140,000 for instigating over 107,000 illegal cold calls to people about pensions. Making pension cold calls was banned in 2019, to try and stop people being scammed out of their life savings. As well as a financial penalty, the ICO has ordered EB Associates to stop making further illegal calls about pensions or face court action. EB Associates came to the attention of the ICO during a wider investigation into organisations making pension cold calls. The company had asked lead generators to make calls on its behalf and paid up to £750 for the referrals. The ICO investigation showed that the EB Associates-instigated marketing campaign made 107,003 illegal pension cold calls between 11 January 2019 and 30 September 2019. The ICO found that EB Associates did not have the valid consent - freely given, specific and informed – to instigate the making of the calls. The ICO concluded that EB Associates contracted the lead generators to make the calls, knowing the cold calling ban was in place to try and bypass the law.

ICO fines Cabinet Office £500,000 for New Year Honours data breach

The ICO has also fined the Cabinet Office £500,000 for disclosing postal addresses of the 2020 New Year Honours recipients online. The ICO found that the Cabinet Office failed to put appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to prevent the unauthorised disclosure of people’s information. On 27 December 2019 the Cabinet Office published a file on GOV.UK containing the names and unredacted addresses of more than 1,000 people announced in the New Year Honours list. People from a wide range of professions across the UK were affected, including individuals with a high public profile. After becoming aware of the data breach, the Cabinet Office removed the weblink to the file. However, the file was still cached and accessible online to people who had the exact webpage address. The personal data was available online for a period of two hours and 21 minutes and it was accessed 3,872 times. Due to the data being published in the public domain, the ICO received three complaints from affected individuals who raised personal safety concerns resulting from the breach. The Cabinet Office was also contacted by 27 individuals with similar concerns.

EU law

Presidency and Parliament reach agreement on Data Management Act

The European Presidency and the European Parliament have reached a preliminary agreement on a new law that aims to promote access to data and create a reliable environment that will facilitate the use of data in research and the creation of innovative new services and products. The Data Management Act will aim to establish robust mechanisms to facilitate the re-use of certain categories of protected public sector data, increase trust in data transmission services and promote data altruism across the EU. It is an important part of the European data strategy, which aims to strengthen the data economy, increase prosperity and prosperity, and give Europe a competitive advantage for the benefit of its citizens and businesses. The new rules will apply 15 months after the entry into force of the Regulation. The agreement is tentative and needs to be approved by the Council. 

Published: 2021-12-03T11:00:00

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