Author: Alex Heshmaty

Alex Heshmaty is technology editor for the Newsletter. He runs Legal Words, a legal copywriting agency based in the Silicon Gorge. Email alex@legalwords.co.uk. LinkedIn alexheshmaty.

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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The long road to driverless cars

In 2016 article in the Newsletter about driverless cars I noted that Google founder Sergey Brin had predicted that driverless cars would be available for consumers by 2017. When this failed to transpire, Ford claimed that it would be selling a self-driving vehicle with “no gas pedal” and “no steering wheel” by 2021. Half way […]

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When automated decisions fail

Managers are increasingly reliant on computer software and algorithms when assessing the performance of their staff. This is the case both in traditional forms of employment where there is a clear employer-employee relationship, and with gig economy arrangements which muddy the water by attempting (sometimes unsuccessfully) to classify staff as self-employed contractors. One of the […]

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State sponsored cyberattacks: what lawyers need to know

Sunburst: a moment of reckoning Towards the end of 2020, the National Security Agency (NSA) issued a warning, claiming that “Russian state-sponsored malicious cyber actors” had essentially hacked into a piece of network management software belonging to SolarWinds, which was installed on networks belonging to US government agencies and almost all Fortune 500 companies. Following […]

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Facebook flexes its muscles down under

Australia announced its News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code in 2020. The aim of the code is to force specified digital platforms (currently Google and Facebook) to pay news media outlets (notably the Murdoch press) in respect of any links hosted on these platforms which point to news content. At first this may […]

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Uber contractors are workers: a blow to the gig economy?

Uber drivers have by the company been treated as fully self employed contractors, as opposed to workers or employees. Uber has always argued that it merely provides a software platform rather than running a fully fledged taxi service – similar to the stance of social media companies that they are platforms rather than publishers. But […]

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Facebook moves UK users from EU to US terms

Facebook has announced that it will be moving all its users in the UK into user agreements with the corporate headquarters in California. Currently they have user agreements with the Irish subsidiary of Facebook, which are governed by EU law.  Facebook claims the reason for this change is due to Brexit: “Like other companies, Facebook […]

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Online Safety Bill upcoming

We previously reported on the Online Harms White Paper in 2019, in which the government set out various proposals to reduce illegal and harmful online activity. The government has now published its full response to the consultation process. The government plans to take forward most of its original proposals, in the form of a forthcoming […]

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ICO concludes Cambridge Analytica investigation

Although the internet was born out of a military research project, many of its original advocates touted its democratic potential to provide a platform for free exchange of ideas and creativity. But there were always voices of warning that the mass connectivity resulting from a global network could lead to something more Orwellian. The creeping […]

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Reform of the communications offences

The government published its Online Harms White Paper in April 2019, which set out a range of proposals to reduce illegal and harmful online activity. An initial consultation response was published in February 2020, with a full response expected before the end of the year and potential legislation coming in early 2021. Meanwhile, the Law […]

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NHS contact tracing app: teething troubles

Back in June, I wrote about the long delayed COVID-19 app, which was supposed to form a key part of the contact tracing system, famously hailed by Boris as “world beating”. The app was eventually launched on 24 September and has, according to government figures, been downloaded almost 20 million times. Although two million people […]

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Regulation of the gig economy

The gig economy has garnered heavy criticism since it became an integral part of the world of work over the past decade or so. On the one hand it has been credited with providing flexible work for millions of people unable or unwilling to secure full time employment. On the other hand, it has been […]

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