The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently completed its market study into online platforms and digital advertising, building on the recommendations of the Furman review. Privacy was an important aspect of the CMA's study, which found that the collection and use of personal data by big online platforms for personalised advertising is another indication that these platforms do not face strong enough competitive constraints.
In what was meant to be the biggest year ever for video games, there is now a question mark over the release date for the next generation of consoles and the many games being developed exclusively for them. There will inevitably be legal challenges ahead and commercial issues to be considered (eg, console manufacturers will be considering whether COVID-19 constitutes a force majeure event for the purpose of their contracts with component suppliers).
The government recently published its initial response to the public consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, in the first substantive update since its publication in April 2019. The consultation response is described as an indication of the direction of travel and it is clear that the policy development process is at an early stage. Certain things have been clarified, while much remains up for grabs. The government's full response to the consultation is expected in Spring 2020.
The Information Commissioner's Office recently published its draft Code of Practice on Direct Marketing. Covering traditional e-marketing but also newer tools increasingly relevant to marketers such as social media and adtech, the code is essential reading for those engaging in direct marketing activities in the United Kingdom. It includes important clarifications and updates to previous guidance, particularly in relation to in-app marketing messages, refer-a-friend schemes and marketing via social network platforms.
From Facebook's 'thumbs up' to Reddit's 'upvote' and Instagram's and Tik-Tok's 'likes', so-called 'vanity metrics' used by social media platforms are ubiquitous. For these platforms, it is important to consider the impact that shifting engagement trends might have on user-generated content in the context of online harms. Platforms should therefore examine what can be done to improve self-regulation (eg, removing 'addictive' structures such as visual metrics) to ensure that the online world is a supportive place.
The government recently released the much-anticipated Online Harms White Paper. Jointly authored by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office, the paper sets out the government's proposals to address harms ranging from terrorism and child sexual exploitation to disinformation and harassment. It proposes fundamental changes to internet regulation in the United Kingdom and suggests that, among other technologies, AI may be both a source of the challenges and a means to resolve them.