On February 11, 2021, the European Commission launched a public consultation on its initiative to fight child sexual abuse online (the “Initiative”), which aims to impose obligations on online service providers to detect child sexual abuse online and to report it to public authorities. The consultation is part of the data collection activities announced in the Initiative’s inception impact assessment issued in December last year. The consultation runs until April 15, 2021, and the Commission intends to propose the necessary legislation by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

Continue Reading European Commission Launches Consultation on Initiative to Fight Child Sexual Abuse

On 25 November 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on European Data Governance (“Data Governance Act”).  The proposed Act aims to facilitate data sharing across the EU and between sectors, and is one of the deliverables included in the European Strategy for Data, adopted in February 2020.  (See our previous blog here for a summary of the Commission’s European Strategy for Data.)  The press release accompanying the proposed Act states that more specific proposals on European data spaces are expected to follow in 2021, and will be complemented by a Data Act to foster business-to-business and business-to-government data sharing.

The proposed Data Governance Act sets out rules relating to the following:

  • Conditions for reuse of public sector data that is subject to existing protections, such as commercial confidentiality, intellectual property, or data protection;
  • Obligations on “providers of data sharing services,” defined as entities that provide various types of data intermediary services;
  • Introduction of the concept of “data altruism” and the possibility for organisations to register as a “Data Altruism Organisation recognised in the Union”; and
  • Establishment of a “European Data Innovation Board,” a new formal expert group chaired by the Commission.


Continue Reading AI Update: The European Commission publishes a proposal for a Regulation on European Data Governance (the Data Governance Act)

In this edition of our regular roundup on legislative initiatives related to artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, the Internet of Things (IoT), and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), we focus on key developments in the European Union (EU).

Continue Reading AI, IoT, and CAV Legislative Update: EU Spotlight (Third Quarter 2020)

On January 23, 2020, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee approved a resolution on artificial intelligence (“AI”) and automated decision-making (“ADM”). The resolution references several major pieces of work carried out by the European Commission on AI and provides a list of existing EU instruments that are relevant to AI and ADM — which together present a potential roadmap of areas of reform.

The resolution was approved in committee by 39 votes in favor, none against and four abstentions. It will next be voted on by the full Parliament in an upcoming plenary session. If adopted, it will be transmitted to the EU Council and the Commission for consideration. The Commission’s Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager is expected to present plans for a European approach to AI in a Commission meeting on February 19, 2020.

Continue Reading AI Update: European Parliament Committee Approves Resolution on AI for Consumers

On April 8, 2019, the EU High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (the “AI HLEG”) published its “Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI” (the “guidance”).  This follows a stakeholder consultation on its draft guidelines published in December 2018 (the “draft guidance”) (see our previous blog post for more information on the draft guidance).  The guidance retains many of the same core elements of the draft guidance, but provides a more streamlined conceptual framework and elaborates further on some of the more nuanced aspects, such as on interaction with existing legislation and reconciling the tension between competing ethical requirements.

According to the European Commission’s Communication accompanying the guidance, the Commission will launch a piloting phase starting in June 2019 to collect more detailed feedback from stakeholders on how the guidance can be implemented, with a focus in particular on the assessment list set out in Chapter III.  The Commission plans to evaluate the workability and feasibility of the guidance by the end of 2019, and the AI HLEG will review and update the guidance in early 2020 based on the evaluation of feedback received during the piloting phase.
Continue Reading AI Update: EU High-Level Working Group Publishes Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI

Wearable watches that help consumers obtain a better understanding of their eating patterns; wearable clothes that send signals to treating physicians; smart watches: they are but a few examples of the increasingly available and increasingly sophisticated “wearables” on the EU market. These technologies are an integrated part of many people’s lives, and in some cases allow healthcare professionals to follow-up on the condition or habits of their patients, often in real-time. How do manufacturers determine what wearables qualify as medical devices? How do they assess whether their devices need a CE-mark? Must they differentiate between the actual “wearable” and the hardware or software that accompanies them? In this short contribution, we briefly analyze some of these questions. The article first examines what “wearables” are, and when they qualify as a medical device under current and future EU rules. It then addresses the relevance of the applicability of EU medical devices rules to these products. The application of these rules is often complex and highly fact-specific.
Continue Reading IoT Update: Are Wearables Medical Devices Requiring a CE-Mark in the EU?

The European Commission estimates that the global market for the Internet of Things (“IoT”) will grow to 75.4 billion devices by 2023. It also estimates that the economic value of spectrum enabled services is at present worth €500 billion per year. This is expected to increase by 200% – up to €1 trillion a year by 2023 – making the availability of spectrum (needed to send and receive data) and the development of 5G technology increasingly significant.

The European Electronic Communications Code, part of the Commission’s Digital Single Market (“DSM”) Strategy, is nearing the end of the legislative process. It contains a range of safeguards aimed at European-level harmonization for 5G and spectrum management, high-speed broadband technology, and seeks to level the regulatory playing field for “Over the Top” (“OTT”) services with that of traditional telecoms services.

Continue Reading IoT Update: The European Electronic Communications Code – Developing the Future of IoT in the EU

City leaders across the globe are predicted to spend upwards of $41 trillion by 2020 to deploy smart city technologies within their locales. From Toronto to Tokyo, cities are vying to harness the benefits of the Internet of Things (“IOT”) in order to help make their streets safer, transportation more efficient, and their environments greener. While exciting, there are a number of challenges facing cities on their quest to get smart. Resources are scarce, building the required infrastructure is expensive and obtaining the necessary consensus and cooperation amongst municipal stakeholders can be downright impossible. For vendors looking to capitalize on this momentum, learning from successful smart city projects and planning around the common conflicts that tend to arise is crucial. Below are a number of best practices gleaned from the strategies and progress of a number of cities who have found success in implementing smart city solutions.
Continue Reading Covington IoT Update: Best Practices for Outsmarting Common Pitfalls in Smart City Projects

The “Internet of Things” (IoT)—the network of consumer devices connected to the Internet through digital connections and sensors—has dramatically grown over the past five years. A McKinsey analysis estimated that the potential annual economic impact of IoT in 2025 could be between $4 trillion and $11 trillion, with value accruing in manufacturing, urban spaces, human wellness, retail, autonomous vehicles, homes, and other sectors. An analysis by Gartner, Inc. estimated that in 2018, nearly 11.2 billion connected things will be in use globally, and that this figure will surpass 20 billion by 2020.

IoT already has global reach. Nearly one-third of the overall installed IoT base is located outside China, North America, and Western Europe. And although IoT use will continue to grow in commerce and industry, more than 63% of IoT-connected units are already available on the consumer market. Some “smart” consumer products—such as fitness monitors, wearable devices, smart thermostats, and smart TVs—are well-established. In the coming years, connected devices will continue to expand in other categories, including kitchen appliances, toys, and medical devices, among many others.
Continue Reading Covington Internet of Things Update: U.S., U.K., and E.U. Regulators Turn Focus to IoT

This post was originally published on the Covington InsidePrivacy blog on January 19, 2018.

On January 12, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas closed its doors for another year.  Each CES raises a new set of technology themes, ranging from robots to smart fridges — and this year, the winner was voice technologies.  Such technologies, while not entirely new, are now becoming mainstream:  sales of smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo more than tripled in 2017, and it is now estimated that one in six Americans own a smart speaker.  It is always difficult to predict the future, but voice enabled cars, home appliances, and other devices are all either on the way or already on the market, and the potential for voice interfaces to become new “platforms” — supporting third party services just like smartphones supported apps — is now clear to us all.
Continue Reading Covington Internet of Things Update: Voice Technologies, Meet the EU E-Privacy Regulation