UK government publishes joint statement on UK-US Data Access Agreement, CMA launches annual report and accounts and impact assessment for 2021-22, ICO updates guidance on BCRs for controllers and processors, Law Commission to consider the legal implications of increased autonomy in aviation and more in this week’s round-up of UK and EU techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.
UK government publishes joint statement on UK-US Data Access Agreement
The Home Office has published a joint statement by the UK and the US on the agreement on Access to Electronic Data for the Purpose of Countering Serious Crime, which is due to come into force on 3 October 2022. The statement says that the Data Access Agreement will allow information and evidence that is held by service providers and relates to the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of serious crime to be accessed more quickly than before. It further says that this will help law enforcement agencies gain more effective access to the evidence they need to bring offenders to justice, including terrorists and child abuse offenders. It says it does not compromise or erode human rights and freedoms.
CMA issues annual report and accounts and impact assessment for 2021–22
The CMA has published its annual report, which sets out the CMA’s key activities between April 2021 and March 2022. The report says that it has saved an estimated £2 billion on average for consumers over each of the last three years. The CMA has also levied a record level of fines in its role as competition regulator – it has imposed over £400 million of fines in the last year. The CMA has also acted in significant cases such as Google’s removal of third-party cookies and NVIDIA’s proposed acquisition of Arm. The CMA will be expanding its remit if the newly created Digital Markets Unit is given statutory powers to oversee businesses online.
ICO updates guidance on BCRs for controllers and processors
The ICO has updated its Guide to Binding Corporate Rules with new guidance, application forms and tables for controllers and processors. The BCRs are intended for “multinational corporate groups, groups of undertakings or a group of enterprises engaged in a joint economic activity such as franchises, joint ventures or professional partnerships”, and approved by the ICO under Article 58.3(j) of the UK GDPR.
Law Commission to consider the legal implications of increased autonomy in aviation
The Law Commission has announced that it plans to launch a new project to review the law around autonomous flight. In so doing, it aims to support the safe development of rapidly advancing technology. It will examine the existing legal framework to identify the challenges and opportunities linked to the introduction of highly automated systems into the aviation sector. Automation is already heavily used in aviation today, but recent breakthroughs have seen the development of new, innovative autonomous and highly automated systems and vehicles. These include drones, as well as advanced air mobility vehicles, such as electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which can provide short journeys for a small number of people. Increased automation has the potential to deliver substantial benefits to the entire aviation system, UK industry, and the public. The Law Commission says that to realise these benefits, the UK’s legislative and regulatory framework needs to be sufficiently agile to facilitate innovation, whilst robust enough to maintain the high safety standards that aviation enjoys. The project will review existing legislation to identify any legislative blocks, gaps or uncertainties. The Commission will consult with key stakeholders in the aviation and innovation sectors, before proposing a series of law reforms that will aim to ensure the UK is ready to take advantage of oncoming advances in automation. The project outcomes will inform the work of the CAA’s innovation hub that was set up in 2019 in response to a significant increase in innovation serving the aviation sector. The Law Commission expects to start the project in September 2022.
Ofcom publishes annual report and accounts for 2021-2022
Ofcom has published its latest annual report and accounts. The report sets out Ofcom’s key powers and duties, its performance against its key strategic objectives, accountability under governance arrangements, and includes its financial statements. It also includes some key statistics: this year, it has received 99,562 broadcasting complaints, 45 million people across the UK received a potential scam phone call or text and 96% of UK homes now have access to superfast broadband services.