The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has just released a 75-page Green Paper on Modernising Consumer Markets, setting out the Government’s main priorities for the digital economy in a post-Brexit Britain. The Green Paper reflects on the current state of consumer markets and regulation, and lays down the key challenges and opportunities which will be the focus of the UK’s regulatory and competitive framework going forward. This poses consultation questions to stakeholders on hot topics in digital markets, including questions on: the adequacy of the current competition rules and privacy protections, supporting consumer-friendly innovation, use of and access to big data, whether personalised pricing should be regulated, sufficiently protecting customers without stifling innovation, and alternative dispute resolution solutions.

It also includes various proposals to ensure new technology and data are used to benefit customers, strengthen national enforcement of consumer rights, modernise the approach taken by regulators, and improve consumers’ access to alternative dispute resolution services. In this Covington blog post, we explore some of the key messages and questions posed by the Green Paper.


Continue Reading The UK Government Seeks Views on the Regulation of Digital Markets for a Post-Brexit Great Britain

The UK House of Lords Select Committee on Communications has recently opened a Public Consultation on ‘The Regulation of the Internet’, with submissions being accepted until Friday 11 May. The Call for Evidence can be accessed here.

The nine questions posed are relatively broad in scope, including: whether there is a need to introduce

Inflection Point for IoT

In a relatively short amount of time, the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its applications— from smart cars to the myriad of interconnected sensors in the General Service Administration building reminiscent of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey— has rapidly proliferated, providing significant opportunities and benefits. However,

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission sent a letter to an individual in Brooklyn, New York, alleging that a device in the individual’s residence that is being used to mine Bitcoin is generating spurious radiofrequency emissions, causing interference to a portion of T-Mobile’s mobile telephone and broadband network.

The letter states that on November 30, 2017,

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

This is the final instalment in our series looking at accessibility in the workplace. Part 1 looked at the importance of deploying accessible IT in order to benefit employees and businesses. Part 2 examined national equality laws requiring businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees in the workplace. In part 3, we set out how industry standards are playing an increasingly important role in helping organizations demonstrate compliance with accessibility requirements.

In this final instalment, we look at practical steps businesses can take to improve their accessibility credentials.

Practical steps

In light of the increasing importance of ensuring workplace accessibility and diversity, both as good business practice and in order to meet legal obligations, it is advisable that enterprises start pushing accessibility higher up the agenda. Companies can kickstart this process by reviewing their policies on workplace inclusion, procurement of IT and accessibility in the recruitment process.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 4

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

Part 1 of our accessibility series explored the importance of businesses deploying accessible IT to recruit and retain employees with a view to reducing job polarization and inequality. Part 2 described how national equality laws are imposing affirmative obligations on businesses to make “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace for employees with disabilities — which may include ensuring that IT devices and services are enabled with accessibility functions.

This third instalment in our series looks deeper into the compliance landscape, at global rules and standards in the U.S., EU and beyond. Although many of these standards currently apply to public sector entities, rather than private entities, we expect this to change as technology transforms the nature of the workplace — not only within back offices and factories, but also on the front-line for customer-facing operations, in sectors such as the hospitality industry and retail.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 3

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

As we noted in Part 1 of our series, there are strong business incentives to invest in accessible IT in order to recruit and retain employees with disabilities. However, aside from the business imperatives for ensuring workplace accessibility, businesses should also consider the compliance landscape — especially national equality laws. These too argue in favor of deploying accessible IT.

The compliance landscape

In many jurisdictions, equality laws place affirmative obligations on private companies, as employers, to protect their employees from discrimination on the grounds of a disability. Equality laws (and their equivalent, anti-discrimination laws) expect employers to make “reasonable accommodations” or “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace for employees with disabilities.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know: Part 2

By Fredericka Argent and Hannah Edmonds-Camara

In our increasingly hyper-connected, technology-reliant society, it is important to ensure that the information technology (“IT”) that we use is accessible for all individuals. “Accessible IT” refers to technology that individuals with disabilities can navigate, perceive, understand and interact with and that enables them to consume and create content independently. It is incumbent on businesses, in particular, to provide their employees and customers with accessible IT so that nobody is left behind. This is not simply a matter of good business ethics; it is also reflected in the legal and compliance landscape. For example, in the U.S., regulators have recently taken strides to increase the accessibility of IT for persons with disabilities and to harmonize IT accessibility standards with those in other countries through the adoption of new rules pertaining to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 508”). Section 508 requires all IT developed, procured, or used by federal agencies to be accessible to federal employees and to the public, except where unduly burdensome.

Compliance with the new Section 508 standards was required as of January 18, 2018. In order to mark the coming into effect of the new version of Section 508, this blog is running a short series highlighting the importance of accessibility, especially in the workplace. We will look at the business imperative for providing accessible IT to employees and customers, the legal and compliance landscape, the role of standards in the U.S., EU and Australia, and offer some practical guidelines for meeting accessibility goals.


Continue Reading Accessibility In The Workplace: What Businesses Need To Know