Articles filed under Regulation

In the wake of growing data protection concerns around the turn of the century, a framework dubbed “Safe Harbor” was agreed between the EU and the US in 2000, which essentially permitted transatlantic free-flow of personal data.

Towards the end of 2015, as a result of one of several legal challenges brought by prolific Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, the European Court of Justice declared the Safe Harbor framework invalid on the grounds that it did not provide adequate safeguards for personal data.

One of the key changes brought about by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force on 25 May 2018, was a substantial increase in the maximum fines available for data protection breaches, to the higher of €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover. Any breaches which occurred prior to this date were subject to a maximum of £500,000 set by the Data Protection Act 1998 – and this former upper limit was only invoked once, in the case of Facebook and its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Many commentators pointed out that half a million pounds was “chump change” for the likes of tech giants. The same couldn’t be said of the £183 million fine which the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied on British Airways (BA) less than a year later.

Airbnb has been a phenomenal success since it was launched just over a decade ago, arguably creating more choice for travellers seeking accommodation while providing a user friendly platform which allows homeowners to rent out a spare room easily. However, it has also faced mounting criticism from various quarters: city officials claim that investors snap up rental properties to add to their Airbnb portfolio, making it more difficult for local residents to find homes to rent; neighbours often complain that Airbnb properties are continuously let out to noisy tourists in residential areas; and hoteliers and regulators argue that Airbnb simply offers a way for unscrupulous businesses to act as hotels whilst avoiding the overheads or regulation.

Internet regulation has been very much in the public eye lately, particularly following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the government recently published its Online Harms White Paper which seeks to address some of the concerns surrounding the ‘Wild West Web’. One of the key issues regularly raised is the protection of children from exposure to online pornography.

The Government published its Online Harms White Paper on 8 April 2019. The consultation, which is open until 1 July 2019, sets out proposals to reduce illegal and harmful online activity. The harms in scope include:

  • harassment and cyberbullying;
  • hate crime and incitement of violence;
  • terrorism, extremist and violent content;
  • revenge/extreme porn, child sexual exploitation and “sexting” by under-18s;
  • organised immigration crime and modern slavery;
  • encouraging or assisting suicide, self-harm and FGM;
  • coercive behaviour and intimidation;
  • sale of illegal goods (weapons, illegal drugs etc) and illegal uploading of content from prisons;
  • disinformation (fake news); and
  • underage exposure to pornography (this is separately being tackled by the heavily delayed age check scheme, now due to come into force on 15 July 2019).