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.

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More

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 […]

Read More