This Week's Techlaw News Round-Up

Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption)(Amendment) Regulations 2023 made, High Court considers claim for copyright in Bitcoin format and other UK and EU techlaw news from the past week not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

Ofcom consults on guidance for broadband providers

Under the planned new guidance, broadband providers would only be able to use the terms 'fibre' and 'full-fibre' on their websites and in contracts if their network uses fibre-optic cables all the way from the exchange to the home. Customers would also be given a short, easy-to-understand description of the type of broadband network technology they are signing up to. Full-fibre networks are currently being deployed at pace, meaning customers are increasingly able to choose from a range of different technologies for their broadband service. However, the term 'fibre' is applied inconsistently by the industry, sometimes being used to describe older part-fibre, part-copper technologies, leading to confusion among customers. The consultation ends on 3 May 2023. A few years ago, the ASA carried out research into the same area and concluded that consumers were not confused - the issue was controversial and led to judicial review, although the courts agreed with the ASA. As a result, it will be interesting to see how the ASA and Ofcom make their respective approaches consistent.

Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 made

The Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 SI 2023/243 have been made. They amend and consolidate existing legislation which exempts the establishment, installation, and use of wireless telegraphy stations or apparatus which comply with certain terms, provisions, and limitations, from the requirement to be licensed under section 8(1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. They come into force on 23 March 2023.

High Court considers claim for copyright in Bitcoin format

In Wright and other companies v BTC Core and others, the Chancery Division refused the claimant's application to serve a claim outside the jurisdiction. The court said that there was no serious issue to be tried. The claim was for subsistence and infringement of copyright in an alleged literary work, the Bitcoin File Format. The claimant claimed to be the creator of the Bitcoin system, the writer of the original Bitcoin code and the author of a White paper which described the Bitcoin System. He claimed to be the owner of certain database rights, and that he or one of the claimants, owned the copyright in the White Paper and the Bitcoin File Format. The court considered the evidence and the requirement in section 3 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 for fixation. For a literary, dramatic or musical work to be protected by copyright it must be recorded or fixed. To get copyright protection in a file format, files in that format must have content indicating the structure, rather than just reflecting it. The Bitcoin File Format failed the requirement of fixation. Therefore, the judge gave permission to the claimants to serve amended statements of case of of the jurisdiction but only if claims of infringement of copyright in the Bitcoin File Format were deleted.

ICO and Australian Communications and Media Authority sign Memorandum of Understanding

The ICO and the Australian Communications and Media Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which formalises their commitment to work together on protecting people from unwanted nuisance calls and spam messaging. The ICO and ACMA already collaborate on electronic marketing and antispam regulation through the Unsolicited Communications Network. Most recently, they shared best practices regarding Covid-related unlawful electronic marketing and experience in investigating companies targeting people with home improvement predatory marketing calls. The MoU sets out how the authorities will continue to share experiences and best practice; cooperate on specific projects of interest; and share information or intelligence to support their regulatory work.

ICO approves fourth UK GDPR certification scheme

The ICO has approved the fourth set of UK GDPR certification scheme criteria. The scheme is aimed at training and qualification service providers and aims to enable their candidates to make informed choice when applying for training programmes, having confidence that their personal data will be processed in accordance with UK GDPR. This scheme follows three others that have been successfully approved and published on the ICO website; on offering secure re-use and disposal of IT assets and the other two looking at areas including age assurance and children's online privacy. Certification schemes were introduced under the UK GDPR to help organisations demonstrate compliance with data protection requirements and in turn, inspire trust and confidence in the people who use their products, processes and services.

Code of Practice for the Police National Computer and the Law Enforcement Data Service published

The Code of Practice for the Police National Computer and the Law Enforcement Data Service is issued by the College of Policing, with the approval of the Secretary of State, under section 39A of the Police Act 1996. This Code applies to every chief officer of a police force in England and Wales who has access to the PNC and LEDS in connection with the discharge of their functions. Every chief officer must have regard to the Code of Practice in discharging any function to which the Code relates. The aim of the Code is to provide public confidence in the legitimacy and integrity of information that is available through PNC or LEDS and the lawful purposes for which this is applied. To support these aims, the Code reflects current data protection and human rights legislation. The use of all data systems should be compliant with UK data protection legislation. The Code should also be read together with any relevant ICO guidance on general and law enforcement processing.

UK government plans science and technology investment and innovation

The Prime Minister and Technology Secretary have issued a press release launching the UK government's plan to "cement the UK's place as a science and technology superpower by 2023, alongside a raft of new measures backed by over £370 million to boost investment in innovation, bring the world's best talent to the UK, and seize the potential of ground-breaking new technologies like AI." The plans include a new Science and Technology Framework which has ten points: identifying, pursuing and achieving strategic advantage in the technologies that are most critical to achieving UK objectives; showcasing the UK's science and technology strengths and ambitions at home and abroad to attract talent, investment and boost the UK's global influence; boosting private and public investment in research and development for economic UK's global influence; boosting private and public investment in research and development for economic growth and better productivity; building on the UK's talent and skills base; financing innovative science and technology start-ups and companies; capitalising on the UK government's buying power to boost innovation and growth through public sector procurement; shaping the global science and tech landscape through strategic international engagement, diplomacy and partnerships; ensuring researchers have access to digital infrastructure for research and development that attracts talent, investment and discoveries; create pro-innovation regulation and influence global technical standards; and creating a pro-innovation culture throughout the UK's public sector to improve how public services are run.

EU law

European Commission announces initiative on Metaverses

The European Commission says that it will develop a vision for emerging virtual worlds (i.e. Metaverses), based on respect for digital rights and EU laws and values. The aim is open, interoperable and innovative virtual worlds that can be used safely and with confidence by the public and businesses. Informed by input from a "citizens' panel", the initiative is intended to describe this vision, address opportunities and societal challenges, and announce upcoming implementation measures.

WhatsApp agrees to EU rules on contract updates

Following a dialogue with EU consumer protection authorities and the European Commission (CPC network), WhatsApp has committed to being more transparent on changes to its terms of service. It will make it easier to users to reject updates when they disagree with them, and will clearly explain when such rejection leads the user to no longer being able to use WhatsApp's services. In addition, WhatsApp confirmed that users' personal data are not shared with third-parties or other Meta companies, including Facebook.

Irish Data Protection Commission publishes 2022 Annual Report

The Irish Data Protection Commission has published its 2022 Annual Report. In 2022, the most frequent GDPR topics for queries and complaints were: access requests, fair-processing; disclosure; direct marketing and right to be forgotten (delisting and/or removal requests). The most frequent cause of breaches reported to the DPC arose because of correspondence inadvertently being misdirected to the wrong recipients, at 62% of the overall total. As of 31 December 2022, the DPC had 88 Statutory Inquiries on-hand, including 22 large-scale border inquiries. In 2022, the DPC, as lead supervisory authority, received 125 valid cross-border complaints, with 246 cross-border complaints concluded by the DPC during the year. In the period 25 May 2028 to the end of 2022, the DPC received 1,205 valid GDPR cross-border complaints as lead supervisory authority. 854 (71%) of these complaints were concluded by the end of 2022. Through supervision action, the DPC has brought about the postponement or revision of seven scheduled internet platform projects with implications for the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Published: 2023-03-10T10:00:00

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