Greta Barkle

Data regulation: An ‘empathetic’ approach from the ICO, but risks remain

While the tragic human consequences of COVID-19 have played out on nightly news bulletins, regulators across Europe have scrambled to adjust their approach to minimise its immediate and longer-term economic consequences. Early on, the UK’s Information Commissioner (‘ICO’) declared its reasonableness and pragmatism in the face of the health emergency and, on 15 April, it fleshed this out in a publication setting out its regulatory approach during the coronavirus pandemic. The ICO’s document is one of a series issued by the data watchdog in recent weeks and will be welcomed by data controllers and processors under exceptional pressure. Nevertheless, those seeking dispensation from data security obligations at this time will look in vain, and risks remain for the unwary.

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Infodemic: Tackling COVID-19 online disinformation

Updated 22nd April 2020

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet was fertile territory for the spread of dangerous disinformation. Hostile states and malicious or misguided individuals quickly adopted the online sphere as a means of disseminating misleading and harmful material to a global audience for personal, financial or political aims. Steps were already taking place around the world to tackle the scourge of disinformation, often igniting concerns about freedom of speech. The global spread of the coronavirus has laid bare the lethal backdrop to this debate and galvanised social media giants and governments alike to tackle what the World Health Organisation (‘WHO’) has described a massive ‘infodemic’ accompanying the disease – an over-abundance of information, some accurate and some dangerously false, often leaving the public bewildered and vulnerable.

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Online Harms regulation – getting closer?

The Government’s much anticipated response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation has finally been released but those seeking clarity at this stage may be left scratching their heads. It appears to represent no more than an indication of the Government’s direction of travel under considerable media pressure to ensure that “something must be done” writes BCL partner, Julian Hayes and associate, Greta Barkle.

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