BEIS consults on draft block exemption orders, Betway faces £400,000 fine for marketing on children’s webpages and more in this week’s round-up of UK and EU techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.
BEIS consults on draft block exemption orders
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has launched a technical consultation about the drafting of the Competition Act 1998 block exemption orders for particular specialisation and Research and Development agreements. This follows the CMA’s recommendation. The block exemption orders will exempt the agreements from the rules in the Competition Act 1998 which prohibit agreements between organisations that distort, restrict, or prevent competition. This aims to ensure that businesses are not prevented or discouraged from entering into agreements that the CMA does not consider to be anti-competitive. The orders replace similar block exemptions: the retained Specialisation Block Exemption Regulation and the retained Research and Development Block Exemption Regulation, which were made under EU law and retained in UK law after the UK left the EU. The retained block exemptions expire on 31 December 2022. The consultation ends on 7 October 2022.
Betway faces £400,000 fine for marketing on children’s webpages
Online gambling business Betway Limited will pay a £408,915 penalty for marketing on the children’s pages of West Ham United Football Club’s website. Gambling Commission enquiries revealed that between 14 April 2020 and 6 November 2021 the operator’s gambling logo, which linked to its website, was displayed on a webpage offering the opportunity to print a teddy bear for children to colour in. Enquiries also revealed a logo with a link to the operator’s webpage featured on the “Young Hammers at Home” webpage between 24 October 2021 and 15 November 2021. Both advertisements breached Commission rules stating gambling advertising must be socially responsible.
ICO launches second consultation on the draft data protection and journalism code
The ICO has launched a second consultation on a draft code of practice about using personal data for journalism. The code provides practical guidance on how to comply with data protection legal requirements and good practice when using personal data for journalism. It is a statutory code under section 124 of the Data Protection Act 2019. It does not concern press conduct or standards in general. Following the first consultation that ended in January 2022, the ICO considered the feedback received from the media industry and other stakeholders, and significantly reduced the length and overall complexity of the code by: focusing on the code’s key points by moving background information to supporting reference notes; distinguishing clearly between legal requirements and good practice by explaining what must, should or could be done to comply; developing quick reference guides to use; making the code more user-friendly with plainer language and explanations so that it is helpful to a broader audience; and providing greater clarity on the practical application of various areas of data protection where sought.
European Commission adopts European Media Freedom Act
The European Commission has adopted a European Media Freedom Act, aimed at protecting media pluralism and independence in the EU. The proposed Regulation includes safeguards against political interference in editorial decisions and against surveillance. It puts a focus on the independence and stable funding of public service media as well as on the transparency of media ownership and of the allocation of state advertising. It also sets out measures to protect independence of editors and disclose conflicts of interest. Finally, the Act will address the issue of media concentrations and create a new independent European Board for Media Services, comprised of national media authorities. The Commission also adopted a complementary Recommendation to encourage internal safeguards for editorial independence. The Act contains provisions against the use of spyware. It also includes safeguards against the unjustified removal of media content produced according to professional standards. In cases not involving systemic risks such as disinformation, very large online platforms that intend to take down certain legal media content considered to be contrary to the platform's policies will have to inform the media service providers about the reasons, before such take down takes effect. Any complaints lodged by media service providers will have to be processed with priority by those platforms.