Global menu

Our global pages


Welcome | TMT Outlook 2019

Welcome | TMT Outlook 2019
  • United Kingdom
  • Technology, Media and Telecoms



These are exciting times for anyone working in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications space. Having said that, it can be said that everyone is now in that space! Technology and digital transformation lies at the heart of organizations across all sectors and industries. Businesses are adjusting to ensure they are on the right side of innovation and don’t get left behind by the whirlwind of technological advancement. Innovative use of technology provides competitive advantage.

In this overview, we provide some of our thinking around the key trends in digital transformation across the globe, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the various associated legal challenges.

There is a critical conversation taking place around ethical AI; it is important that systems and safeguards are put in place to ensure that AI is employed in an ethical manner and for the good of the planet. The European Union and other jurisdictions have engaged heavily in this debate.

Digital media is also growing at an exponential rate, and it is important for businesses and their legal advisors to be on top of these trends. Various countries are working hard to update their regulatory regimes to ensure that licensing and regulation overall is enhanced to cover these advances. We discuss this below, along with other trends.

I hope you will find this future outlook helpful. We welcome your feedback and thoughts.

Nasser ali Khasawneh, Global Co-Head of TMT, Partner

View Nasser's profile > 

Ethics becomes a key focus for artificial intelligence adoption 

In the last few years, there has been an increasing focus on the need for adequate ethics guidance for the use of artificial intelligence and robots – something we have regularly written and spoken about. For example, in 2017, MEPs from the EU parliament’s legal affairs committee passing Mady Delvaux’s report into robotics and AI and Germany laid out a set of ethical rules for automated and connected vehicular traffic. In 2018, more than 90% (1000+ signatories) at the Asilomar Conference agreed on a set of AI Principles On 18 December 2018, the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on AI (“AI- HLEG”) issued its draft ethics guidelines for ‘trustworthy AI’ in Europe:

Read the full article.  For more information please contact: Charlotte Walker-Osborn

Brexit - immigration and freedom of movement implications

Predicting what will happen next is far from an exact science. However, we have had further clarity on proposals for EU citizens who live and work in the UK in the event of no deal. Our regular update examines what has changed recently in light of the current political uncertainty when it comes to employment and immigration law. This compares any deal (whether the Prime Minister’s current one or otherwise) with no deal, which is a very real risk.

View the Brexit immigration infographic.  For more information please contact: Wie-men Ho

The 'transfers from EU back in to the UK' conundrum...

The issue? Processors in the EU are required under Art 44 GDPR to ensure lawful mechanisms apply to any transfers they make from the EU to ‘third countries’. After Brexit the UK will be a ‘third country’ unless and until there is a formal adequacy decision from the EU Commission. That is not expected to happen anytime soon (certainly not in the next 12 months). The UK has told the EU authorities that transfers from UK to the EU won’t be problematic. The EU has not done this in return. There is risk an EU processor might ‘refuse’ to make transfers of personal data back to the UK controller after Brexit.

Read the full article. For more information please contact: Paula Barrett

Brexit - Implications for intellectual property

Trade marks

Following Brexit, the UK will no longer be an EU member state and consequently the unitary European Union trade mark (EUTM) and Registered Community Design (RCD) will no longer cover the UK, subject to any agreements to the contrary. As such, if no action is taken by the UK Government, EUTMs and designs will no longer provide protection in the UK post-Brexit. 

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is still looking to reach an agreement on IP cooperation that will mutually benefit UK and EU rights holders. If a deal is reached, it has been provisionally agreed that some form of transitional period lasting until 31 December 2020 will be implemented post Brexit, to maintain rights as far as possible. On 24 September 2018, the UK government released notices setting out the likely outcomes for businesses in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. In terms of trade marks, in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, the government has announced that it will ensure that at the date of Brexit. 

Read the full article. For more information please contact: Kate Ellis, or Adrian Toutoungi.


Cybersecurity forecasts remain frightful for 2019

Last year was brutal for cyberattacks — against U.S. cities, against major hotel chains and against global airlines — and a watershed year for new privacy and cybersecurity regulations. Europe’s GDPR, Australia’s encryption law and California’s Consumer Privacy Act and internet of things law are just a few of the global privacy and cybersecurity laws that hit the scene in 2018.

Unfortunately, 2019 offers no promise of respite, putting a premium on early compliance, proactive planning and remaining abreast of the rapidly evolving threat and regulatory environments. Companies that develop the capacity to tag and track their data from cradle to grave will find themselves more able to successfully navigate the global regulatory crosscurrents and seize business opportunities in new markets or with new technologies.

Read the full article. For more information contact: Michael Bahar, Mark Thibodeaux or Ali Jessani

Internet of Things become the Internet of Everything

Technology companies will continue to focus on the growth potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) in a big way – it abounds, whether in vehicles, wearables, sensors, software, and more. The opportunities are expansive, especially with IoT becoming commonplace for consumers and in the home. However, congestion in the Internet remains problematic. Whilst 5G, in part, will come to the rescue, data centres and edge computing will have to work together in a harmonious way in order to allow the technology community to make the most of IoT. It will be very interesting to see if further potential legislation comes into play to deal with energy consumption. Of course, security remains the hottest issue for IoT with privacy and cyber legislation across the globe affecting the risk matrices of deals. Suppliers who deal with security and cyber risk upfront and with a fair risk allocation will be able to complete deals more quickly.

For more information please contact: Charlotte Walker-Osborn

Connected and autonomous vehicles

Like IoT, this is a place many technology suppliers want to play. We are increasingly seeing more of the larger players enter into this market – which, perhaps even five years ago, was an area where start-ups in particular were focused. Like IoT and AI, security and ethics remain key issues for consumers but also for the manufacturers and therefore for the suppliers. 2019 will see a much more increased focus by the legislators on the laws surrounding connected and autonomous vehicles. For example, the UK is undertaking a wholesale review of various legislation to enable autonomous vehicles onto the roads and other countries, such as Germany, are arguably further ahead in this respect. Technology suppliers will definitely need to consider an ability to have configurable technology for the car to allow for differing laws and rules in differing countries. Please see our [US up to speed blog] to keep you up to date on some of the industry news in this area.

For more information please contact: Charlotte Walker-Osborn

Analysing blockchain security risks to your supply chain

In the first article of our blockchain series, we explained how the use of blockchain technology had the potential to offer security benefits to its users.  This is because blockchain technology can enable the secure transmission of information between users.  It also provides visibility and traceability of data to users.

Given this, introducing blockchain technology into supply chain processes presents an attractive prospect, particularly from an ethical trading and verification/authenticity perspective. 

Read the full article. For futher information contact Adam Fisher or Ridah Iqbal.

Trends and disputes | technology predictions

In 2019, expect to see more disputes, claims and litigation arising from data/system security breaches and (un-)availability issues, whether brought by individuals, via group litigation or between organisations.  Private information is one aspect, but there is a wealth of confidential corporate data, intellectual property and trade secrets that is vulnerable to internal and external breaches in the hyper-connected world. The role of product and managed services providers can come under intense scrutiny when their corporate or governmental customers suffer incidents and providers, whatever their size, should take steps now to assess that potential exposure should the worst happen.

Tech innovation will continue apace and with it, because of its novelty, complexity, connectivity and scale, the continuing trend of more frequent and larger technology and communications related disputes. The issues that we have seen in 2018, relating to (for example) managed/outsourced services, software licensing, complex ICT procurement and tech product safety will all feature prominently in 2019 and will link to the increasing prevalence of IoT, AI, automation and autonomy across all industry sectors.

Read the full article. For more information contact: James Hyde

Ofcom's priorities for telecommunications

On 3 December 2018 Ofcom released its proposed Annual Plan for 2019/2020 titled “Making communications work for everyone” requesting comments from the industry (responses to be provided by 8 February 2019) prior to producing its final annual plan in March 2019. Ofcom’s proposed telecommunications priorities for the next financial year are:

Moving towards universal availability of high quality and secure communications networks

This priority is focused on ensuring universality of broadband services and universal mobile coverage. It also aims to improve the quality of broadband through supporting long term investment in fibre networks. Ofcom has issued a number of consultation to support this priority:

For more information contact: Simon Cloke

Electronic signatures

Electronic or digital signatures have been in use for many years. Their treatment was codified in the EU, Australia and the US as long ago as 1999 and revised pan-European rules came into effect with the eIDAS Regulation in 2016. In the era of the “digital economy”, companies operating across all sectors, including DI, are looking to move to a paperless model. As such many companies are embracing electronic signatures for agreements with customers, vendors and employees and, increasingly, for strategic arrangements including corporate re-organisations and M&A.

However, some barriers remain (for example certain documents to be filed at the UK Land Registry still require “wet ink” signature) and there is still some perceived legal uncertainty as to the validity of electronic signatures with some companies (and their lawyers) uneasy about using electronic signatures for key, high value documents. To address this uncertainty the UK Law Commission has held a recent consultation. As an early adopter and advocate of e-signature technology, Eversheds Sutherland submitted a response, which can be read in full here

Read the full article. For more information please contact: Craig Rogers

US CLOUD Act/proposed regulation on “European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters”

Following the enactment of the US CLOUD Act in March 2018, the European Commission has submitted a proposed Regulation on “European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters”. Both the CLOUD Act and the proposed EU regulations mean that law enforcement agencies in the US or EU can obtain data directly from your service provider, without your consent, if it meets certain criteria. Global industrials will need to consider where their service providers are located, as well as where your data is stored. A revision of your terms of service with your providers is also encouraged. Aerospace, defense and security clients are strongly advised to review any data of highly sensitive or confidential nature, ensuring the necessary protections are in place and considering whether or not the hosting of this data exposes you to any risk.

For more information please contact: Emma Gordon

Employment – ethnicity pay gap

On 11 October 2018, just over one year on from the introduction of compulsory gender pay gap reporting, the Government has published a consultation regarding the potential introduction of a similar scheme for disclosure of differences in pay according to ethnicity. Population census figures show that Britain is increasingly ethnically diverse, yet labour market participation, earnings and progression vary widely between ethnic groups. The Government has a stated aim to break down the barriers that hold back under-represented ethnic groups, on the grounds of fairness and because it makes economic sense for employers and the country.

Importantly, beyond societal demands resulting from an increasingly diverse UK population, there is an increasing body of research as to the positive impact inclusion and diversity has on business growth and performance. A study by McKinsey, for example, found that companies in the top-quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity amongst their executive teams were 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

Read the full article. For more information please contact: Naeema Choudry