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Global Media and Communications Watch

The International Legal Blog for the Tech, Media and Telecoms Industry

Posted in Consumer Privacy, Policy & Regulation

Gearing up for enhanced consumer protection: the impact of the EU’s new rules

On 7 January 2020, Directive (EU) 2019/2161 (the “Directive”) came into force, setting into motion a swathe of measures aimed at modernizing the existing consumer protection rules, bolstering the level of protection available to consumers and providing an enhanced level of transparency in the face of ever-growing digital complexity.

Part of the EU’s ‘New Deal for Consumers’, the Directive amends four key pieces of EU consumer protection legislation. Member States must implement the Directive within national regulations by 28 November 2021. The deadline for the actual application of the measures is 28 May 2022.

What do you need to know?

Significant penalties for infringements

Fines for breaches of consumer protection law can be now levied at a maximum level of at least 4 percent of the trader’s annual turnover in the relevant Member State. Member States may elect to impose higher fines for particularly egregious infringements.

Private enforcement by individual consumers

Consumers are to be provided with direct rights to individual remedies where they have been harmed by unfair commercial practices.

Big implications for online sales

Several provisions are aimed at fostering increased transparency for online transactions:

  1. Personalized pricing: an obligation on traders to inform consumers where the price offered has been personalized based on automated decision-making and profiling of consumer behavior.
  2. Fake reviews: a prohibition on the manipulation of reviews (i.e., publishing only positive reviews) and a prohibition on traders procuring the submission of fake reviews.
  3. Ticket touts: a prohibition on traders reselling event tickets that have been acquired through the use of automated ‘bots’.
  4. Search results: an obligation to inform consumers about the parameters determining the ranking of offers within search results and to disclose where payment has been made for higher rankings.

Protection for consumers contracting for digital services in exchange for personal data

Contracts where no price is paid by the consumer, but where personal data is provided, are now caught by existing consumer protection legislation. Consumers that have entered into such contracts may now for example take advantage of a 14-day cooling off period.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a trader with consumers within the EU, then you will need to ensure compliance with the new rules irrespective of where you are based.

  • Check your consumer-facing terms. Are they compliant with the new rules?
  • Check your website wording. Does it fit with the new rules?
  • Does your business collect data? Consider the implications of how that is monetized.
  • Do you do personalized pricing or pay for higher rankings in search results, or are you at risk of fake reviews? Consider if the new rules apply to you.

The clock is ticking to 2022 – in order to avoid the possibility of significant fines, make use of the next two years to ensure your business is compliant with the new regime.

The authors are part of a leading and internationally acclaimed network within Hogan Lovells that can support you and your products anywhere in the world. The Hogan Lovells Global Products Law practice is internationally renowned for their work in product liability, litigation, safety and compliance for universally recognised brands in every industry sector.

Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Mark BrennanArpan SuraJohn Castle

Seventh Circuit Joins Third and Eleventh Circuits in “Autodialer” Circuit Split

Slowly but surely, the U.S. Courts of Appeal increasingly agree on how to interpret the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (“ATDS” or “autodialer”) in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). On February 19, 2020, a unanimous Seventh Circuit panel refused to revise a putative class action in Gadelhak v. AT&T Services, Inc. after concluding that the dialing system used by AT&T did not qualify as an autodialer. Like the Eleventh Circuit in Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC and Third Circuit in Dominguez v. Yahoo, Inc., the Seventh Circuit held that an “autodialer” must use “a random or sequential number generator” to either store or produce numbers. Because the system used by AT&T simply pulled numbers from a database, the court found that the system was not an autodialer and the texts did not violate the TCPA. Continue Reading

Posted in intellectual property Steven LevitanAnna-Katharina FrieseZhen FengGrace GuoJulia PengDr. Frederick ChenHiroto ImaiStanislas Roux-ValliardChristian StollFederico FuscoRuud van der VeldenNatalia GulyaevaAlastair ShawAna CastedoBernardo Herrerias F.Valentina Schmid

Global Trade Secrets Guide 2020

Businesses are increasingly turning to trade secrets as a mechanism to protect their innovations and know-how. From the implementation of the EU Trade Secrets Directive, to recent amendments to China’s Anti-Unfair Competition Law, many countries have taken significant strides to increase protection for trade secret owners and their rights.  However, mobile workforces, advancements in technology, and inconsistencies in enforcement regimes pose new challenges for rights holders. With further political and economic changes on the horizon, learning how to navigate this rapidly evolving legal and regulatory landscape is essential.


Our guide
We are delighted to launch the second edition of our guide to trade secrets legislation and legal developments around the world. Knowing how, when and where to enforce your rights is essential. This guide assesses the current state of legal protection afforded to rights holders within each jurisdiction, as well as the changes that are taking place.

Understanding the law and how it can help you can mitigate potential losses and save vast amounts in legal fees and potential loss of revenue.

What’s new for 2020?
Our 2020 edition introduces new chapters examining trade secrets legislation in Japan and Mexico, as well as the latest developments across China, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, UK, and the United States.

Download the Global Trade Secrets Guide here

Posted in Internet, Policy & Regulation Peter WattsPenny Thornton

Online Harms White Paper: UK Government publishes its consultation response

The UK Government Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has today published its initial response to the public consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019.  In its response, DCMS gives an indication of how it plans to adapt the proposed regulatory framework to take account of some of the concerns raised by industry stakeholders, including the fact that is it minded to make Ofcom the new regulator and that Ofcom will be providing guidance on the companies in scope.

The Online Harms White Paper, published in April 2019, set out proposals by DCMS for tackling online harms and included consultation questions on the proposed new regulatory framework. Key aspects of the proposals include the introduction of a statutory duty of care on companies whose services allow users to share user-generated content or interact and the establishment of a new regulator to enforce the new framework, with the power to impose fines. The government’s response to the consultation provides an indication of how it intends to deal with some of the concerns raised as part of the consultation process, pending the publication of a full response in the Spring.

Continue Reading

Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Michele FarquharArpan Sura

Kari’s Law Compliance Obligations Begin February 16, 2020

Kari’s Law, signed into law on February 16, 2018, requires organizations that use multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) to provide callers with the ability to dial 911 directly from any telephone in the system. MLTS are often used in hotels, office buildings, corporate and educational campuses, and other enterprises. As a result, a wide variety of organizations will be impacted by Kari’s Law and must comply with its requirements.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently published its implementing regulations. The regulations went into effect on January 6, 2020, with a compliance date of February 16, 2020Continue Reading

Posted in Internet David TaylorJane Seager

Czechs say no to Internationalised Domain Names, again

CZ.NIC, the Registry for the .CZ country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), recently published the results of a survey that indicate that Czechs have once again rejected the possibility of registering Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) under .CZ.


IDNs are domain names that contain at least one non-ASCII character – for example, a character with diacritics like é, ü, ñ, or a Chinese character like 飛.  Registering IDNs is already possible in many ccTLDs such as Belgium (.BE), Brazil (.BR), China (.CN), Hong Kong (.HK), France (.FR), Germany (.DE), Greece (.GR), Hungary (.HU), Spain (.ES) or Tuvalu (.tv), and in most generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs).

According to the published survey results, 88% of corporate respondents and 64% of ordinary Internet users were either strongly opposed, or would rather that IDNs under .CZ not be introduced. The survey was undertaken during the autumn of 2019 and 1,015 representatives of organisations and 1,206 individual Internet users took part.

The above figures represent a 2% increase in resistance to IDNs among corporate respondents and a 9% increase among ordinary Internet users when compared to the last survey in 2016.  Moreover, this is the seventh time that CZ.NIC has undertaken a survey concerning the introduction of IDNs under .CZ and the seventh time that those surveyed have expressed their opposition to their introduction.

The CEO of CZ.NIC, Ondřej Filip, has stated in connection with the latest survey that:

“The repeated rejection of IDN in the .CZ domain zone is not surprising. Among other things, the survey also showed that for Internet users, IDN is not a desirable feature or a priority. The respondents stated that topics of Internet security, online protection or the availability of a quality Internet connection were more important to them.”

According to CZ.NIC, users who participated in the survey view the current situation with .CZ as satisfactory and, in turn, view the use of diacritics as confusing and unnecessarily complicated for foreign users.

Only time will tell whether Czechs will change their views in future with regard to registering IDNs under .CZ, but on the basis of the current trend, that does not look likely.

Authored by Anchovy News Team

Posted in intellectual property, Technology

Tech Tax – Looking Forward to 2020

Following-up from our previous blogs on Tech Tax, we thought it would be useful to take a whirlwind tour of what to expect in tax and transfer pricing related topics in 2020. But for those that are curious, why are such seemingly dry topics so relevant to tech companies? It’s because their dynamism and continual state of change almost inevitably have tax consequences, or attract attention from tax authorities. It is also relevant because of the importance of IP to their business models and value creation, the inexorable growth of the digital economy, and simply, because it’s where the money is.

Digital Services Tax (DST)
Reform of International Tax (OECD’s Pillar 1 & 2)
Transfer Pricing (General/Non-Financial Transactions)
State Aid
Transfer Pricing and Financial Transactions
Transparency
Disclosure – DAC 6
Anti-Avoidance – EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive II

The key messages are that in this area, tech companies need to stay vigilant, keep up-to-speed with what is happening, and strategise accordingly. They also need to get used to a world which is steadily becoming more transparent, and where the old ways of doing things often no longer work. It’s a time of change.

Digital Services Taxes (DST)

Despite U.S. threats to impose punitive tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of French goods in response to the country’s introduction of a digital services tax effective 1 January 2019, a number of other countries introduced their own versions of the tax on 1 January this year. These include Italy and Austria, whilst the UK (see here for an article on legal issues  concerning the UK’s measure) and Turkey are to follow suit on 1 April. A host of other countries have either done the same, are in the process of doing so (e.g. Spain and the Czech Republic), or are considering it. Norway, for instance, has indicated that it will be prepared to introduce a similar unilateral measure if an international consensus is not reached at the OECD on global reforms to the international tax system. It’s also not inconceivable that the EU may try again in such circumstances. U.S. retaliation against France using tariffs is still possible (which is ironic given that the U.S. State of Maryland has proposed its own DST), even though the two appear for the time being to have stepped-back from a full-blown dispute (noting nonetheless that the new EU Commissioner for Trade has stated that the EU will stand firmly behind France in any dispute over its DST and retaliatory tariffs). The UK appears to be standing firm, at least for now, but given all the political maneuvering, a lot can be expected to happen on this topic within the next 12 months.

Continue Reading

Posted in Policy & Regulation, Telecoms & Broadband Mark BrennanArpan Sura

Eleventh Cir. Rejects Broad Reading of “Autodialer”

On January 27, 2020, an Eleventh Circuit panel released a landmark ruling in Glasser v. Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC. The key issue in the case was how to interpret ambiguous language in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS or autodialer). In recent years, imprecise statutory phrasing and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) liberal reading of the legislative history empowered plaintiffs to assert TCPA claims based on a wide array of calling systems. The Eleventh Circuit panel’s decision in Glasser rejects that trend, joins the D.C. Circuit in adopting a much narrower view of the TCPA’s scope, and establishes a clear circuit split with the Ninth Circuit. Continue Reading

Posted in consumer privicy, Cybersecurity, Internet, Policy & Regulation, Technology

UK Government set to move forwards with regulation on consumer IoT device security

UK Government set to move forwards with regulation on consumer IoT device security

The UK Government has just announced that it intends to draw up legislation aimed at ensuring that all consumer smart devices sold in the UK adhere to rigorous security requirements for the Internet of Things (“IoT“).

Over the last couple of years, the Government has been considering the need to develop a robust regulatory framework governing the cybersecurity of consumer IoT devices, to ensure that these devices are sufficiently secure from cyber-threats.

What will the new legislation look like? 

The Government has indicated that the new legislation will focus on three key security requirements for the manufacture and sale of IoT devices:

  1. All consumer IoT device passwords must be unique and not resettable to any universal factory setting.
  2. Manufacturers of consumer IoT devices must provide a public point of contact so that anyone can report a flaw or vulnerability, and these reports are to be acted on in a timely manner.
  3. Manufacturers of consumer IoT devices must explicitly state the minimum length of time for which devices will receive security updates at the point of sale (both online and in stores).

What does this mean for businesses?

  • The Government aims to deliver the legislation “as soon as possible” though it is currently unclear how this legislation will reflect the three key security requirements.
  • It is likely to come as a relief that the Government has decided against launching a security labelling scheme at this time, recognising the potential disruption to businesses caused by affixing a label to physical products.
  • The Government plans to conduct further stakeholder engagement in order to refine its regulatory proposals, and determine the most appropriate way for businesses to communicate important security information to consumers.

What next?

The Government has promised a “staged approach” to regulation, which will include:

  • Inviting further stakeholder feedback to develop the regulatory proposals.
  • Providing businesses with sufficient time to implement the proposals effectively and sustainably.
  • Publishing a final stage regulatory impact assessment later in 2020, which we expect will shed further light on the regulatory proposals.

We are monitoring relevant updates in this area and encourage manufacturers to keep an eye on further invitations from the Government for stakeholder engagement, as their proposals develop.

You can find further information on the Government’s proposals here.

We regularly work with companies in preparing submissions to government on proposed legislation and regulation. Get in touch with our leading Global Products Law practice to hear how we can support you in making sure your voice is heard.

You can also keep up with news from our Global Products Law team by signing up for our quarterly publication, International Products Law Review – please contact Samantha Tharle.

The authors are part of a leading and internationally acclaimed network within Hogan Lovells that can support you and your products anywhere in the world. The Hogan Lovells Global Products Law practice is internationally renowned for their work in product liability, litigation, safety and compliance for universally recognised brands in every industry sector.

Posted in Copyright, intellectual property

Tom Kabinet: CJEU rules resale of e-books requires permission of copyright holder

The CJEU in its Tom Kabinet judgment has ruled that the supply of e-books qualifies as “an act of communication to the public” under the InfoSoc Directive instead of “a distribution to the public” as is the case with physical books. It follows that copyright  in e-books cannot be exhausted. This means that the resale of e-books requires the authorization of the copyright holders or else violates the author’s or publisher’s copyrights. The same reasoning is expected to apply to all digital formats of copyright protected works covered under the InfoSoc Directive, including audiobooks, music and also video games. This notably differs from the approach to the resale of software, which was deemed permitted under the Software Directive, in the CJEU’s UsedSoft judgment.


In its judgment of 19 December 2019 in Tom Kabinet (C-263/18), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that the supply by downloading, for permanent use, of an e-book is not covered by the right of “distribution to the public”, but is covered by the right of “communication to the public”. This means there is no exhaustion of rights and thus the second-hand trade of e-books is not permitted without the authorization of copyright holders. This judgment provides guidance on copyright in a digital environment. Continue Reading