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Back in 2006, Sheffield mathematician Clive Humby declared “data is the new oil” after reaping the benefits of helping to set up a supermarket loyalty card scheme. This was the same year that Facebook went mainstream, accelerating the pace of data harvesting and spawning an entire industry devoted to the collection, analysis and monetisation of large sets of personal data. Although many concerns were raised over the following years regarding the potential dangers of the…
Governments around the world have grappled with the challenge of sufficiently taxing international companies – particularly peripatetic tech giants – which aggressively pursue policies of (perfectly legal) tax avoidance. One of the main reasons that so many Silicon Valley icons decide to base their European operations in Dublin (including Google and Apple) is due to the low rate of corporation tax in Ireland (compared to most other EU countries) – and the ability to further…
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…
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…
Information overload is defined by Wikipedia as “the difficulty in understanding an issue and effectively making decisions when one has too much information about that issue” – although, ironically, it offers alternative definitions based on multiple sources! History The concept of excessive information is nothing new. Back in the 16th Century, renaissance scholar Erasmus blamed the printing press for creating too much reading material: “Is there anywhere on Earth exempt from these swarms of new…
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…
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. Back in 2013, former PM David Cameron announced that, following extensive discussions between government and internet service providers…
The debate around workplace monitoring of employees has rumbled on for many years now; employers argue that they are entitled to analyse how their staff spend their working day whilst employees claim it impacts upon their privacy. In 2017 the European Court of Human Rights held, in the case of Bărbulescu v Romania, that the actions of an employer in monitoring the instant messaging accounts of an employee breached Article 8 of the European…
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…
A recent major IT failure on the Ministry of Justice network, which reportedly led to the disruption of thousands of cases, highlighted how reliant courts already are upon technology. Commenting in the wake of the fallout, Richard Atkins QC, the chair of the Bar Council, noted that “it illustrates how vulnerable the delivery of justice is with reliance on weak IT systems in our courts.” Although HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has big plans…