Year: 2021

ICLR.4 and the genie in the bottle

Some years ago the editor of this Newsletter complained of the over-use of the description “artificial intelligence” in legal products: “hyping AI is unhelpful”, he said. “AI is just what computers do.” And he’s not alone in expressing scepticism about the often extravagant claims of AI. Much of the mystique around it stems from simple […]

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GDPR fines: implications of the WhatsApp decision

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) recently issued its largest ever fine in respect of a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by WhatsApp. Following an extensive investigation, it concluded that the messaging service, owned by Facebook, had failed to meet the transparency requirements under articles 12–14 of the GDPR. The DPC had […]

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The internet as a commons

Since the beginning of the “information revolution” there has built up a tension between the rights of the owners of information and other intellectual property and the practical ability and desire of others to exploit that property using the developing technologies. This tension heightened considerably with the popularisation of the internet and the web as […]

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Future Legal Worlds 2050: into the unknown

In June 2021, the Law Society of England & Wales published its report Future Worlds 2050: Images of the Future Worlds Facing the Legal Profession 2020-2030. This project was “set up to bring an exceptional group of thinkers to the table for raw, frank and honest discussions around future client needs, to postulate the legal […]

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Mapping legal innovation

Innovation has, for lawyers, become an area of intense interest. It is likewise a concern and an increasing imperative among lawyers. With the legal services industry undergoing major economic and technological changes − such as digitalization, open data, blockchain technology, and artificial intelligence − law firms and legal departments have no other option than to […]

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Big tech, small tax: time to pay?

The internet has been a significant contributing factor to globalisation over the past couple of decades, notably leading to the creation of tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Although many of these companies are based in Silicon Valley, their customers and users live all over the world. One of the issues which […]

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Pegasus spyware scandal: what lawyers need to know

Back in April 2021 I wrote an article for this newsletter about the Sunburst cyberattack, referencing a blog from Microsoft President Brad Smith in which he warned that mercenary-style technology companies, known as private sector offensive actors (PSOAs), are increasingly selling hacking tools to nation states. He specifically urged the US administration to take action […]

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The Post Office Horizon scandal: the law says computers are reliable

The Post Office Horizon scandal will probably have come to the attention of most lawyers over the last 12 months. There are a number of significant issues other than legal that surround the scandal, and Paul Marshall of Cornerstone Barristers, Gray’s Inn, succinctly summarises them in a lecture he gave at the University of Law […]

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UK mass surveillance breaches the ECHR

In the wake of the 2013 Edward Snowden affair, in which a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed that mass surveillance programmes were being operated by the UK and US intelligence services, a collection of journalists and human rights organisations brought a case against the UK government, challenging the bulk interception of […]

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How will the Online Safety Bill affect my online service?

No-one could fault the ambition of the new Online Safety Bill. It aims to keep children safe, reduce online racism, fraud and harassment, protect democracy and enshrine free speech. All of these are laudable aims, but those who practise in the field of online publication and safety know how hard it has historically been to […]

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What’s new at vLex?

Two years on from Justis Since Justis was acquired by vLex two years ago, the teams have now fully integrated. With centralised development and editorial operations, the vLex and Justis teams now work together to increase the volume of legal information available on the service. However, the formerly Justis sales, accounts and marketing teams continue […]

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The EU AI Regulations: taming the machine

Finally, after nearly three years of consultation, white papers and industry input, on 21st April 2021, the European Commission published its proposals for Laying Down Harmonised Rules on Artificial Intelligence (the “Regulations”). The over-arching aim of the Regulations is to ensure that fast changing AI technology is applied and supplied across Europe according to a […]

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