This Week’s Techlaw News Round-up

June 28, 2024

UK law

Two arrests connected to suspected illegal £1 billion cryptoasset business 

The FCA and Metropolitan Police, have conducted an operation to arrest two individuals suspected of running an illegal cryptoasset exchange. More than £1 billion of unregistered cryptoassets are believed to have been bought and sold through this business. The FCA’s investigation into the case is ongoing. Since 10 January 2021, cryptoasset businesses providing certain cryptoasset services in the UK must be registered with the FCA under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLRs). Cryptoasset exchange providers must be registered with the FCA and comply with the UK money laundering regulations to operate legally in the UK.

ICO issues statement on its public sector approach trial

In June 2022 the ICO revised its approach to working with public sector organisations and started a two-year trial, as set out in an open letter at the time. While the ICO has continued to issue fines to public bodies where it deems it appropriate, it says that it has also been using its other regulatory tools to ensure people’s information is handled appropriately and money is not diverted away from where it is needed the most. It says that it will now review the two-year trial before deciding about the public sector approach in the autumn. In the meantime, it will continue to apply this approach to its regulatory activities in relation to public sector organisations.

High Court rules that charge over IP addresses was floating

In Re UKCloud Ltd (in liquidation) [2024] EWHC 1259 (Ch) the High Court considered the law relating to fixed and floating charges in relation to Internet Protocol addresses.  The company in the case provided cloud computing services to UK customers and held around 23,500 IP addresses. The addresses permitted customers to access the cloud services and were valued around £700,000. A debenture purported to create a fixed charge over “all licences, consents and authorisations (statutory or otherwise) held or required in connection with the Company’s business or the use of any Secured Asset, and all rights in connection with them”. The court said that the natural and ordinary meaning of the language used (especially the word “authorisations”) could include IP addresses, and so there was intent to create a fixed charge over them. Nevertheless, the court held that the charge created was a floating charge because although the debenture’s terms provided for control, it was not in reality exercised regarding the IP addresses.

EU law

Rental apartment operator’s installation of antenna to receive TV broadcasts can constitute communication to public

In Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA) v GL (Case C-135/23) the Court of Justice of the EU followed Advocate General Szpunar’s opinion. It ruled that Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of “communication to the public” covers the deliberate provision, by the operator of a rented apartment building, of television sets equipped with an indoor antenna that, without further intervention, pick up signals and enable broadcasts to be made, provided that the tenants of those apartments can be regarded as a “new public”. Tenants of apartments that are let on a short-term basis, in particular as tourist accommodation, are capable of constituting such a “new” public.