Competition Law

Opt-out collective actions (i.e. US-style class actions) can only be brought in the UK as competition law claims.  Periodic proposals  to legislate to expand this regime to consumer law claims have so far faltered.  However, this is now back on the Parliamentary agenda.  Several members of the House of Lords have indicated their support for expanding the regime to allow consumers and small businesses to bring opt-out collective actions for breaches of consumer law, and potentially on other bases.

If implemented, this expansion would be very significant and would allow for many new types of class actions in the UK.  Tech companies are already prime targets as defendants to competition-related opt-out class actions.  An expansion of the regime to allow actions for breaches of consumer law, as well as competition law, would only increase their exposure further.

As there is now limited time for legislation to be passed to effect such changes before the UK Parliament is dissolved in advance of an upcoming general election, this may be an issue for the next Parliament.  It will therefore be important to assess what the UK’s main parties say on this – and any manifesto commitments – in the run-up to the election.Continue Reading UK Opt-Out Class Actions for Non-Competition Claims back on Parliamentary Agenda

Recent proposals to amend the UK’s national security investment screening regime mean that investors may in future be required to make mandatory, suspensory, pre-closing filings to the UK Government when seeking to invest in a broader range of companies developing generative artificial intelligence (AI). The UK Government launched a Call for Evidence in November 2023 seeking input from stakeholders on a number of potential amendments to the operation of the National Security and Investment Act (NSIA) regime, including whether generative AI, which the Government states is not currently directly in scope of the AI filing trigger, should expressly fall within the mandatory filing regime. The Call for Evidence closes on 15 January 2024.

This blog sets out how the NSIA regime operates, how investments in companies developing AI are currently caught by the NSIA, and the Government’s proposals to refine the scope of AI activities captured by the regime, including potentially directly encompassing generative AI.Continue Reading UK Government Consults on Amending Mandatory Filing Obligations for AI Acquisitions

On October 30, 2023, days ahead of government leaders convening in the UK for an international AI Safety Summit, the White House issued an Executive Order (“EO”) outlining an expansive strategy to support the development and deployment of safe and secure AI technologies (for further details on the EO, see our blog here). As readers will be aware, the European Commission released its proposed Regulation Laying Down Harmonized Rules on Artificial Intelligence (the EU “AI Act”) in 2021 (see our blog here). EU lawmakers are currently negotiating changes to the Commission text, with hopes of finalizing the text by the end of this year, although many of its obligations would only begin to apply to regulated entities in 2026 or later.

The EO and the AI Act stand as two important developments shaping the future of global AI governance and regulation. This blog post discusses key similarities and differences between the two.Continue Reading From Washington to Brussels: A Comparative Look at the Biden Administration’s Executive Order and the EU’s AI Act

Earlier today, the White House issued a Fact Sheet summarizing its Executive Order on a comprehensive strategy to support the development of safe and secure artificial intelligence (“AI”).  The Executive Order follows a number of actions by the Biden Administration on AI, including its Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and voluntary commitments from certain developers of AI systems.  According to the Administration, the Executive Order establishes new AI safety and security standards, protects privacy, advances equity and civil rights, protects workers, consumers, and patients, promotes innovation and competition, and advances American leadership.  This blog post summarizes these key components.Continue Reading Biden Administration Announces Artificial Intelligence Executive Order

On 4 May 2023, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) announced it is launching a review into AI foundation models and their potential implications for the UK competition and consumer protection regime. The CMA’s review is part of the UK’s wider approach to AI regulation which will require existing regulators to take responsibility for promoting and overseeing responsible AI within their sectors (for further information on the UK Government’s strategy, including its recent AI White Paper, see our blog post here). The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has also recently published guidance for businesses on best practices for data protection-compliant AI (see our post here for more details).Continue Reading UK’s Competition and Markets Authority Launches Review into AI Foundation Models

On 16 July 2020, the European Commission (“Commission”) announced that it has launched an antitrust sector inquiry into “consumer-related products and services that are connected to a network and can be controlled at a distance, for example via a voice assistant or mobile device.

Commission Executive Vice President and Competition Commissioner Vestager said that “[t]he sector inquiry will cover products such as wearable devices (e.g. smart watches or fitness trackers) and connected consumer devices used in the smart home context, such as fridges, washing machines, smart TVs, smart speakers and lighting systems. The sector inquiry will also collect information about the services available via smart devices, such as music and video streaming services and about the voice assistants used to access them.” Connected cars are outside of the scope of the inquiry.
Continue Reading IoT Update: The European Commission launches an antitrust sector inquiry into the sector of Internet of Things for consumer-related devices and services

On 8 October 2018, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) published a Working Paper on the ‘use of pricing algorithms to facilitate collusion and personalized pricing’ (the “Paper”). It follows a number of other initiatives from competition authorities regarding algorithms, including the recent German Monopolies Commission’s proposals regarding pricing algorithms, which was the subject of a Covington Competition Blog post. The CMA’s analysis reflects input from algorithm providers, other competition authorities, and the results of the CMA’s findings from pilot tests. The Paper is economic rather than legal in focus, and assesses the extent to which various algorithm models have the potential to affect competition.
Continue Reading The CMA’s Paper on Pricing Algorithms, Collusion and Personalised Pricing

On the 10th October 2018, BEREC (the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) launched its public consultation on the ‘Data Economy’. This comes at a time when different regulators are increasingly discussing the importance of big data, including the opportunities and risks that it brings about, how these may evolve, and how (and increasingly who should take the responsibility) to regulate. While the data protection and competition authorities have so far been most vocal in this deepening regulatory debate, the opening of this consultation represents a clear and decisive move by European telecom regulators to ‘throw their hat’ into the ring and get included in the discussion – and potentially future regulation – of Europe’s data economy.

All interested stakeholders, including public organisations, industry actors, consumers, associations, academics, financial advisers, and other stakeholders with expertise or interest in the data economy are strongly encouraged to have their say. BEREC’s consultation video can be accessed here, and the consultation is open until 21 November 2018.Continue Reading IoT Update: BEREC launches public consultation on the ‘Data Economy’

On 9 July 2018, the Economic Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (the “EP”) published a study identifying potential competition law concerns in the financial technology (“FinTech”) sector (the “Study”).
Continue Reading The European Parliament publishes a study on financial technology and competition law

On April 25, 2018, the European Commission (EC) published its “Artificial Intelligence for Europe” communication (the Communication), in which it sets out a roadmap for its AI initiatives. Having acknowledged the crucial need for a boost of AI in the EU, the EC commits to supporting investment, (re)considering legislation and soft law initiatives, and coordinating Member States’ efforts. This blog post highlights some of the EC’s initiatives.
Continue Reading AI Update: European Commission Publishes Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe