This Week's Techlaw News Round-up

Ofcom consults on proposed commercial drone licences, Law Commission sets out options to UK government for reforming how companies are convicted of criminal offences, ASA issues statement on remit over online gambling products and more in this week’s round-up of UK and EU techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

Ofcom consults on proposed commercial drone licences

Ofcom has launched a consultation on its proposed new licensing regime for commercial services delivered by drone. The CAA sets out the rules governing how and where commercial drones can be flown safely. Along with the UK government, it is currently developing a framework for how they can be integrated into UK airspace. As the regulator of the radio spectrum, Ofcom currently allows drones to use airwaves designated for model aircraft or for Wi-Fi. This does not require a licence, but is unsuitable for the services offered by the latest generation of drones. As a result, Ofcom is now proposing new licences. The licences would also authorise the use of safety equipment to enable drones to operate safely in UK airspace. Although the proposed licence provides the framework for authorisation of the use of mobile terminals on a commercial drone, the licensee would need to have obtained a written agreement from the mobile network operator before use. It would be up to each mobile operator to decide whether they wish to permit this use, as they may not be able to allow such use on their networks. The consultation ends on 5 September 2022 and Ofcom says that it plans to publish its decision by November.

Law Commission sets out options to UK government for reforming how companies are convicted of criminal offences

The Law Commission has published its options for the government for how it can improve the law to ensure that corporations are effectively held to account for committing serious crimes. The Law Commission was asked by the government to carry out a review of the law on corporate criminal liability, and to present a set of options for strengthening the law, in a way that does not overburden businesses. The review followed concerns that the law falls short in adequately holding corporations, especially large companies, to account, particularly for economic crimes such as fraud. The Law Commission has presented ten reform options to the government. The proposed reforms are designed to ensure that corporations of all forms can be properly convicted of crimes, without placing an administrative burden on law-abiding businesses. The options for reform to corporate criminal liability include widening the scope for attributing liability to corporations for the conduct of senior management, which would reform the established “identification doctrine”. It also contains the option of extending “failure to prevent” offences so that they capture other economic crimes by corporations, including an offence of “failure to prevent fraud”. This would cover a situation in which the company has failed to put measures in place to prevent their own employees or agents committing fraud for the benefit of the company. New financial penalties and reporting requirements for corporations are also presented as possible reform measures.  With more regulation coming tech companies’ way, these reforms may be relevant outside a financial crime context.

ASA issues statement on remit over online gambling products

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has published a statement clarifying whether its remit in relation to online marketing communications extends to gambling providers following questions raised by research in 2021. The ASA and the Gambling Commission have a common understanding that all social media content published by licensed gambling operators must comply with the standards and protections set out in the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the CAP Code). These aim to ensure protection of under-18s and other vulnerable groups from the potential harms associated with gambling marketing.  The statement also considers content marketing, some of which may fall outside the scope of the CAP Code and be directly regulated by the Gambling Commission.

MoD publishes policy statement on AI

The Ministry of Defence has published a policy statement on AI. The policy statement should be read in conjunction with the Defence AI Strategy 2022 which was also published this week. It says that a broad “systems” perspective will ensure AI-related issues are addressed systematically and effectively. By focusing on outcomes, delivered through clear frameworks and processes, and in view of its opinion that AI can be a powerful force for good, it says that it will ensure that it is ambitious, in terms of the tools and operational effects it seeks to deliver; enable – rather than constrain – the delivery of those tools and effects; and deliver and use AI-enabled capability in a safe and responsible manner.

Published: 2022-06-17T11:00:00

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