Digital Media & Technology Round-up – November 2016
Each month, our Digital Media & Technology team provides a round-up of key developments in the ever-changing world of technology and the law. If you read anything that piques your interest or raises questions within your own business, please get in touch with one of our team – they love a good chat!
Data Protection & Privacy
- The big news this month was, of course, the highly controversial Investigatory Powers Bill becoming law – dubbed by many a ‘Snooper’s Charter’. The Act provides a new framework for investigatory oversight by law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies in the digital age. At the very least, in legalising activities that have been going on for years, the Act clearly establishes the rights and powers that these organisations have and the checks and balances they are subject to. But watch this space – legal challenges by privacy rights groups, including Big Brother Watch and the Open Rights Group, are already under way.
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has succeeded in its efforts to make Facebook pause for thought regarding its plans to use WhatsApp user data for advertising and ‘product improvement’ purposes across the Facebook group. In a blog post by the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, she explained that the ICO has: “…asked Facebook and WhatsApp to sign an undertaking committing to better explaining to customers how their data will be used, and to giving users ongoing control over that information”. She went on to say: “We all rely on digital services for important parts of our lives, whether it’s keeping in touch with loved ones or doing our weekly shop. But our digital comings and goings create rich portraits of our lives, and vague terms of service when we sign up aren’t giving us the protection we need.”
- The ICO highlights the data protection risks of running on a skeleton staff over the holiday period – Ho Ho Ho!
- If you own a domain name ending .com, .net or one of newer extensions such as .xyz , you should have received an email from your registrar about a new policy for the transfer of those domain names which came into force on 1 December. The new policy deals with potential transfers of such domain names between owners (or ‘registrants’) and is triggered whenever you try to change the first name, last name, organisation or email address associated with a domain name (even if you are only updating your records). If any of those things happen, a series of emails will automatically be sent to require approval of the change before it is applied. Once the change has been approved, it cannot be reversed (i.e. if it was done in error) and, if enabled by the registrar, the domain name will be locked for transfer to any other registrar for a period of 60 days unless you expressly opt out of this before making the change.
- Automotive giant Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has succeeded in having 174 domain names including the words ‘JAGUAR’, ‘LANDROVER’ and ‘RANGE ROVER’ (registered trademarks of JLR) transferred from a family trust which was holding them on behalf of a family-owned company. The trust did not contest JLR’s ownership of the trademarks, however they argued that they were not infringing the trademarks by registering the domain names or doing anything that was misleading or deceptive. Instead, they believed they had a legitimate commercial interest in registering the domain names as part of an online platform which connects customers with automotive service providers such as suppliers of spare parts. In the end, it was their awareness of JLR’s trademarks which defeated their arguments concluding: “…the Panel finds that the [registrant] has registered the disputed domain names to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to its “MaintainMy” project website, by creating a likelihood of confusion with [JLR’s] trademarks.
- The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has issued a warning and guidance to online retailers about the illegality of agreeing price levels with competitors during the holiday period. Price fixing in the e-commerce industry is more common that you would think – with the CMA recently fining an online retailer of posters and frames over £160,000, for agreeing with a competitor not to undercut each other on Amazon.
- The highest court in Europe has ruled that, in certain circumstances, the lending of e-books may be treated in the same way as lending traditional books under the so-called ‘public lending right’. This may allow library members to download one copy of an e-book onto a personal device during the lending period. It is important to note that this ruling does not extend to the lending of e-books by private organisations. You can find a nice summary and initial comment on the ruling via the IPKat website.
- You could be forgiven for thinking that e-sports is “not really a thing”, but this emerging sector is apparently set to be worth $1bn globally by 2019! Trade body UKIE has published a whitepaper setting out recommendations to Government on how to make the UK an e-sports destination.
- The CMA have been busy little elves – securing commitments from BT, Dropbox, Google and Mozy to give consumers proper notice of changes to price, service or terms includin cancellation information and limiting the circumstances in which those companies can suspend or cancel services.
- The European Commission has published a paper reporting the findings of a consultation into Personal Information Management Services (PIMs). PIMs are online services that enable individuals to control the use of their personal data. The paper is useful in the sense that it provides a flavour of the emerging business models around PIMs platforms and identifies some of the potential business and regulatory challenges for this new sector.