This Week’s Techlaw News Round-up

June 7, 2024

UK law

Data Protection and Digital Information Bill lost in Parliament wash-up period

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was lost in the “wash-up” period that preceded the prorogation of Parliament on Friday 24 May 2024 and its dissolution on 30 May 2024.  This was due to the UK general election that will be held on 4 July 2024. Any unfinished business is lost at dissolution. However, there is a carry-over motion so it is possible that it could be reintroduced by the next government, depending on who wins the election.

House of Commons Committee publishes final report on governance of AI

The Science, Innovation and Technology Committee has published its final report on the governance of AI, examining domestic and international developments in the governance and regulation of AI since its August 2023 interim Report.  The conclusions and recommendations of the report apply to whoever is in government after the election. The Committee agrees with the sectoral approach to regulation but says that the next government should be ready to legislate on AI if it encounters gaps in the powers of any of the regulators to deal with the public interest in this fast-developing field. The Committee revisits the Twelve Challenges of AI Governance set out in the interim Report with suggestions for how they might be addressed by policymakers. It identifies perhaps the most far-reaching challenge of AI as the way it can operate as a “black box”: the basis of and reasoning for its output may be unknowable, but it may nevertheless have very strong, and better than human, predictive powers. The Committee says that if the chain of reasoning cannot be viewed there must be stronger testing of the outputs of AI models, to assess their power and acuity. The report raises concern at suggestions the new AI Safety Institute has been unable to access some developers’ models to perform the pre-deployment safety testing that was intended to be a major focus of its work. The Committee calls on the next Government to identify any developers that refused pre-access to their models, in contravention of the agreement at the November 2023 Summit at Bletchley Park, and name them and report their justification for refusing. The Committee concludes that as AI developers command can vast resources, UK regulators must be equipped to hold them to account. The £10 million announced to support the UK’s sectoral regulators, particularly Ofcom, as they respond to the growing prevalence of AI in the private and public sectors will be clearly insufficient to meet the challenge, particularly when compared to even the UK revenues of leading AI developers.

CMA launches consultation on Meta’s varied commitments regarding use of advertising data

The Competition and Markets Authority invites views on a variation of the commitments offered by Meta to address the CMA’s competition concerns in the context of its prior investigation under the Competition Act 1998. These commitments related to Meta’s conduct in relation to the collection and use of data obtained by providing digital display advertising services. The CMA accepted binding commitments relating to the prior investigation on 3 November 2023. These required Meta to implement technical systems to prevent the use of certain advertiser data in the operation of Facebook Marketplace, and to ensure that employees refrain from using certain advertising data for product development in competition with advertisers. Meta’s proposed variation to the commitments (the Proposed Variation) includes the option for Meta to limit the use of certain data from all advertisers from being used in the operation and development of Facebook Marketplace. The CMA provisionally considers that the Proposed Variation addresses the competition concerns identified by the CMA for the reasons in the Notice of Intention to Accept a Variation of Commitments. Therefore, subject to consultation responses, the CMA proposes to accept the Proposed Variation.  The consultation ends on 14 June 2024.

CMA opens consultation on draft guidance for the new digital markets competition regime

The CMA is consulting on its draft guidance for the new digital markets competition regime under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act 2024. The Act provides the CMA with the power to designate powerful digital firms with Strategic Market Status in a digital activity and the power to impose three potential interventions to enhance greater competition and innovation. The CMA is now seeking views on how it will use its functions under the new regime and on two guidance documents which include guidance on the whole digital markets competition regime and guidance on the merger reporting requirements for firms designated as having SMS under that regime. The consultation will close on 12 July 2024.

CMA issues Emma Sleep with letter before claim

The CMA has notified Emma Matratzen GmbH, Emma Sleep GmbH and Emma Sleep UK Limited, and their directors (the Emma Group), that unless it commits to making changes to its practices the CMA will commence court action. The CMA wrote to the Emma Group on 24 July 2023 setting out in detail its concerns. To avoid taking court action, the CMA sought a formal commitment from the Emma Group, by way of undertakings, to change its online sales practices. The Emma Group has not agreed to provide undertakings that are sufficient to address the CMA’s concerns. The CMA has now informed the Emma Group that it is preparing to take court action and will launch proceedings if it does not commit to changing its practices without unnecessary delay.

DSIT publishes regulatory guidance on fees under Online Safety Act 2023

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology has published guidance on the fees payable by regulated services under the Online Safety Act 2023. The online safety regime will be funded by fees paid by regulated service providers whose qualifying worldwide revenue meets or exceeds a certain revenue threshold, and who are not otherwise exempt. Before Ofcom can charge fees, there are several implementation steps that need to take place.

UKIPO and USPTO sign MoU on Standard Essential Patents

The UK Intellectual Property Office and the US Patent and Trade Mark Office have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to co-operate in their work on Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). SEPs are patents that have been declared essential to a given technical standard. As part of the standards-setting process, patent owners may agree to license SEPs on fair, reasonable, and non discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The Memorandum will allow both offices to work together on certain matters related to SEPs, including for example conducting outreach activity to raise awareness of SEPs issues. The agreement will remain in effect for five years from the date of signing.

EU law

European Commission designates Temu as a VLOP under DSA

The European Commission has designated Temu as a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP) under the Digital Services Act. As Temu is above the VLOP DSA threshold with 45 million monthly users in the EU, it must comply with the DSA’s obligations to assess and mitigate systemic risks in its services by September 2024. The Commission will monitor Temu’s compliance with the DSA.

European Commission establishes AI Office

The European Commission has established the AI Office. The AI Office is aimed at enabling the future development, deployment and use of AI in a way that fosters societal and economic benefits and innovation, while mitigating risks. The Office will play a key role in the implementation of the AI Act, especially in relation to general-purpose AI models. It will also work to foster research and innovation in trustworthy AI and position the EU as a leader in international discussions.

EDPB publishes report of the ChatGPT taskforce

The European Data Protection Board has published a report by the ChatGPT taskforce, which it created to promote cooperation between regulators investigating the OpenAI chatbot.

EDPS publishes Orientations for EUIs on using generative AI for personal data

The European Data Protection Supervisor has published its Orientations on “generative Artificial Intelligence and personal data protection” to provide EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies with practical advice and instructions on the processing of personal data when using generative AI systems, to facilitate their compliance with the requirements of the data protection legal framework.