UK Government

On February 16, 2024, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) introduced specific guidance on content moderation and data protection. The guidance complements the Online Safety Act (OSA)—the UK’s legislation designed to ensure digital platforms mitigate illegal and harmful content.  The ICO underlines that if an organisation carries out content moderation that involves personal information, “[it] must comply with data protection law.” The guidance highlights particular elements of data protection compliance that organisations should keep in mind, including in relation to establishing a legal basis and being transparent when moderating content, and complying with rules on automated decision-making. We summarize the key points below.Continue Reading ICO Releases Guidance on Content Moderation and Data Protection

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

On 15 January 2024, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) announced the launch of a consultation series (“Consultation”) on how elements of data protection law apply to the development and use of generative AI (“GenAI”). For the purposes of the Consultation, GenAI refers to “AI models that can create new content e.g., text, computer code, audio, music, images, and videos”.

As part of the Consultation, the ICO will publish a series of chapters over the coming months outlining their thinking on how the UK GDPR and Part 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018 apply to the development and use of GenAI. The first chapter, published in tandem with the Consultation’s announcement, covers the lawful basis, under UK data protection law, for web scraping of personal data to train GenAI models. Interested stakeholders are invited to provide feedback to the ICO by 1 March 2024.Continue Reading ICO Launches Consultation Series on Generative AI

On 26 October 2023, the UK’s Online Safety Bill received Royal Assent, becoming the Online Safety Act (“OSA”).  The OSA imposes various obligations on tech companies to prevent the uploading of, and rapidly remove, illegal user content—such as terrorist content, revenge pornography, and child sexual exploitation material—from their services, and also to take steps to reduce the risk that users will encounter such material (please see our previous blog post on the Online Safety Bill).Continue Reading UK Online Safety Bill Receives Royal Assent

On September 19, 2023, the UK’s Online Safety Bill (“OSB”) passed the final stages of Parliamentary debate, and will shortly become law. The OSB, which requires online service providers to moderate their services for illegal and harmful content, has been intensely debated since it was first announced in 2020, particularly around the types of online harms within scope and how tech companies should respond to them. The final version is lengthy and complex, and will likely be the subject of continued debate over compliance, enforcement, and whether it succeeds in making the internet safer, while also protecting freedom of expression and privacy.Continue Reading UK Online Safety Bill Passes Parliament

On 31 August 2023, the UK’s House of Commons Innovation and Technology Committee (“Committee”) published an interim report (“Report”) evaluating the UK Government’s AI governance proposals and examining different approaches to the regulation of AI systems. As readers of this blog will be aware, in March 2023, the UK Government published a White Paper setting out its “pro-innovation 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, see our blog post here).

The Report recommends that the UK Government introduce a “tightly-focused AI Bill” in the next parliamentary session to “position the UK as an AI governance leader”.Continue Reading UK Parliament Publishes Interim Report on the UK’s AI Governance Proposals

On July 7, 2023, the UK House of Lords’ Communications and Digital Committee (the “Committee”) announced an inquiry into Large Language Models (“LLMs”), a type of generative AI used for a wide range of purposes, including producing text, code and translations.  According to the Committee, they have launched the inquiry to understand “what needs to happen over the next 1–3 years to ensure the UK can respond to the opportunities and risks posed by large language models.

This inquiry is the first UK Parliament initiative to evaluate the UK Government’s “pro-innovation” approach to AI regulation, which empowers regulators to oversee AI within their respective sectors (as discussed in our blog here).  UK regulators have begun implementing the approach already.  For, example, the Information Commissioner’s Office has recently issued guidance on AI and data protection and generative AI tools that process personal data (see our blogs here and here for more details). Continue Reading UK House of Lords Announces Inquiry into Large Language Models

On 29 March 2023, the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (“DCMS”) published the draft Media Bill (the “Bill”), which will deliver on a number of legislative reforms set out in the Government’s White Paper entitled “Up Next; the Government’s vision for the broadcasting sector”, published in April 2022.

The Bill forms part of the UK Government’s wider efforts to ensure the regulation of TV and radio evolves in line with changing technology.

The proposed legislative package, which is distilled into six parts, includes significant developments in the regulation of video-on-demand (“VoD”) service providers.Continue Reading Evolving Regulatory Landscape for VoD Providers: UK Government Publishes Draft Media Bill

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 29 March 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published updated Guidance on AI and data protection (the “Guidance”) following “requests from UK industry to clarify requirements for fairness in AI”. AI has been a strategic priority for the ICO for several years. In 2020, the ICO published its first set of guidance on AI (as discussed in our blog post here) which it complemented with supplementary recommendations on Explaining Decisions Made with AI and an AI and Data Protection risk toolkit in 2022. The updated Guidance forms part of the UK’s wider efforts to adopt a “pro-innovation” 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 approach to AI regulation, see our blog post here).

The updated Guidance covers the ICO’s view of best practice for data protection-compliant AI, as well as how the ICO interprets data protection law in the context of AI systems that process personal data. The Guidance has been restructured in line with the UK GDPR’s data protection principles, and features new content, including guidance on fairness, transparency, lawfulness and accountability when using AI systems.Continue Reading UK ICO Updates Guidance on Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection