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Digital Regulation Hub

This is a busy time for digital and tech firms. Among other legislation, the Online Safety Act and EU’s Digital Services Act are coming into force, and the UK’s Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is becoming law. We have created this hub to help your business navigate the digital regulatory maze.

Digital regulation

UK vs. EU

Digital background security systems and data protection

Online Safety Act

The Online Safety Act received Royal Assent in October 2023. It is intended to ensure the safety of online users, especially children. It places specific obligations upon various online service providers to prevent illegal and harmful content on their services. Ofcom regulates the service providers caught by the Act.

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Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act comes fully into force in February 2024. The DSA regulates online intermediaries and platforms. Its main goal is to prevent illegal and harmful activities online and the spread of disinformation. It aims to ensures user safety, protect fundamental rights, and create a fair and open online platform environment.

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DMCC (Consumer law changes, Subscriptions, fake reviews)

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is currently passing through the UK parliament. It introduces new consumer laws, particularly regarding subscriptions, as well as powers for the Competition and Markets Authority to impose GDPR style fines. It also regulates digital markets and updates competition law.

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Digital Markets Act

The Digital Markets Act aims to make the markets in the digital sector fairer and more contestable. It establishes a set of clearly defined objective criteria to identify “gatekeepers” and imposes various obligations on them. Gatekeepers are large digital platforms providing so called core platform services, such as online search engines, app stores, messenger services.

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Dark Patterns / Online Choice Architecture

Online Choice Architecture is the way websites are structured to “nudge” consumers into certain behaviours. “Dark patterns” relates to OCA that can act against a consumer’s best interests. Examples include countdown timers and suggestions that stock is limited. They are increasingly coming to the attention of regulators and lawmakers.

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EU Consumer proposals (Dark Patterns, EU fitness check)

The EU is currently carrying out a Fitness Check of consumer law, and is particularly considering dark patterns and subscription models. The Commission’s full report is set to be published in the second quarter of 2024. The full report will likely give a firmer idea of whether changes may be made to EU consumer laws and if so, where.

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Online Advertising Programme

The Online Advertising Programme is focused on tackling illegal advertising and increasing protections for children and young people under 18 against adverts for products and services that are illegal to be sold to them. The government intends to introduce a new and targeted regulatory framework for online advertising, which focuses on tackling illegal advertising (as defined under existing criminal provisions) and increasing the protection of under-18s online.

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Media Bill

The Media Bill is aimed at modernising the regulatory framework for media companies. Among other things, mainstream video-on-demand (VoD) service consumed in the UK - such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ - will be required to follow similar Ofcom content rules to those currently in place for traditional broadcasters. There will also be accessibility rules as well as rules about smart speakers and programme guides.

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Media Freedom Act

This aims to establish a common framework for media services in the EU internal market and to safeguard media freedom, media pluralism and editorial independence in the EU. It builds on other legislation such as the DSA and the Audio-Visual Services Directive.

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