This month’s Digital Law Alert brings you a selection of tech law news from March 2022:

  • Full text of the UK Online Safety Bill introduced to Parliament
  • AI regulation: Recent developments
  • UK/Singapore Digital Economy Agreement
  • EU Digital Markets Act agreed by European Parliament
  • Summary of responses to the UK’s Plan for Digital Regulation
  • EU proposal for pilot regime for market infrastructures based on DLT adopted
  • Digital, Data and Technology Playbook for UK public bodies published
  • Using AI to monitor your compliance risks: DLA Piper event
Full text of the UK Online Safety Bill introduced to Parliament

On 17 March 2022, the UK government introduced the full text of its Online Safety Bill (OSB) to Parliament, which includes recently added restrictions on falsifying or destroying data and enhanced sanctions against senior managers of technology companies that breach its provisions. The OSB is intended to address the proliferation of illegal content and online activity and make sure that both children and adults using online services are not exposed to harmful content. As failure to comply with the OSB could result in companies being fined up to 10% of worldwide group revenue, and as it contains provisions applying to all companies that provide UK consumers with the ability to publish onsite content (including messages to other users), the introduction of the new legislation will have far reaching consequences for many businesses targeting UK consumers. Read more about the Online Safety Bill in our report here.

AI regulation: Recent developments

The world of AI regulation has been busy this month. A report recently published by the European Parliament’s special committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age/AIDA was adopted by a majority of its committee members on 22 March 2022. The report contains a Roadmap for AI in the form of a set of policy recommendations for 2030, with such recommendations covering sustainability, research, cybersecurity and regulation, amongst other things. Although largely focusing on the potential benefits of AI, risk factors such as the potential for AI to restrict the free movement of EU citizens are also considered by the report. In other AI news, TechUK released a position paper on 15 March on ‘Governance for an AI Future: Enabling Innovation and Securing Trust’. The paper summarises four top priorities for a successful AI governance regime in the UK, namely to: 1. take a risk-based approach; 2. consider the entire AI lifecycle; 3. encourage and oversee the development of an effective AI assurance market; and 4. acknowledge the role of existing regulation.

UK/Singapore Digital Economy Agreement

The UK and Singapore signed a Digital Economy Agreement (DEA) on 25 February 2022, which will enter into force once implementation procedures and ratifications have been carried out on either side. The DEA requires the UK and Singapore to support the development of secure cross-border payments through interoperability measures and the acceptance of internationally accepted standards, in addition to increased digitisation of contracts, invoices process and administrative documentation. It also requires the promotion of data protection and bans misleading, deceptive, fraudulent and unfair commercial practices as the two nations look to strengthen their digital alignment.

EU Digital Markets Act agreed by European Parliament

The European Parliament agreed the draft Digital Markets Act (DMA) with EU Member States on 24 March 2022, some fifteen months after it was first proposed. The DMA will require digital gatekeepers such as providers of cloud services, online marketplaces and search engines to adhere to clearly defined obligations and restrictions, with the aim of reducing bottlenecks between businesses and end consumers to allow the digital services market to flourish. Together with the EU Digital Services Act, the DMA is part of a huge overhaul of European digital law that aims to bring EU legislation up to speed with current commercial practices in the European digital market.

Summary of responses to the UK’s Plan for Digital Regulation

On 9 March 2022 the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) published an overview of the responses it has received in relation to the UK government’s Plan for Digital Regulation published in July 2021. As the UK government seeks to execute the Plan in support the UK’s digital economy, its approach through a series of regulatory measures targeting online safety, digital competition, data protection and cyber security are at the forefront of the scrutiny of those businesses that have commented on the Plan. Although largely in support of the core aims of the Plan, the need to balance growth objectives against other concerns such as sustainability and safeguarding consumers are just some of the issues that respondents appear to feel strongly about.

EU proposal for pilot regime for market infrastructures based on DLT adopted

The European Parliament adopted the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on a pilot regime for market infrastructures based on distributed ledger technology (2020/0267(COD) at first reading on 24 March 2022. The European Commission had itself adopted the proposed Regulation in September 2020 as part of its Digital Finance Strategy. Amongst other key provisions, the Regulation defines the conditions that apply to the grant of permission to operate a DLT market infrastructure, and also provides clarity regarding which DLT financial instruments may be traded going forward.

Digital, Data and Technology Playbook for UK public bodies published

The UK government has published its Digital, Data and Technology Playbook proving guidance on sourcing and contracting for digital, data and technology projects and programmes. The Playbook sets out policy reforms that all central government departments and arm’s length bodies should follow applying a ‘comply or explain’ approach. In addition, on 28 March 2022 a ‘Commercial and supplier management approach to mitigating and preventing legacy IT’ guide was published alongside the Playbook, providing guidance for government departments on the nature of IT legacy products and how to deal with them. The guide makes it clear that legacy IT includes those products that are out of support or on extended support from the supplier, those that are impossible to update and/or those that are simply no longer cost-effective.

Access the previous articles here:

January 2022

February 2022

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Using AI to monitor your compliance risks: DLA Piper event

Using AI to monitor your compliance risks: Have you ever wondered what adaptive AI, cartel activity and a global law firm have in common? If the answer is ‘yes’, then please join us on 31 March 2022 for a webinar in which we will showcase our unique Aiscension tool that aims to strengthen competition compliance strategy. Register for the event here.