An early Christmas present for the tech sector from the CMA?
In recent years there has been lively discussion about artificial intelligence revolutionising the way we work and live our lives. In its policy paper on the AI Sector Deal, the UK government predicted that the development of AI technology could have the same dramatic impact on society as the invention of the printing press. The anticipation of a new AI era, and the increased deployment of algorithmic decision systems, has been accompanied by wariness about how such technology will be used and regulated. In June 2018 the European Commission created a High-Level Expert Group on Artificial intelligence with a remit to work on ethics guidelines and in late 2018 the UK launched the AI-focused Centre for Data Ethics + Innovation (CDEI). The Chair of that Centre, Roger Taylor, said that it was established because the government had “woken up to the fact that algorithmic decision making systems, artificial intelligence… present novel problems and they are testing, to destruction possibly, our current regulatory arrangements”.
Over the coming months our Public Law and Criminal Litigation teams will look at opportunities and challenges for those looking to create and use algorithmic decision systems, and implement AI solutions, in the public sector and criminal justice system. We will consider the existing legal framework and how it may develop further to deal with these methods of decision making. In the first of these posts we will be briefly look at the technology, how it is already being utilised in the public sector, and areas of focus for later blog posts.
Algorithmic decision systems are “specific types of algorithms that focus on decision making”. They can include systems that utilise artificial intelligence (explained further below) and systems that analyse data in different ways. Some algorithmic decision systems are classified as “semi-automatic” systems which can assist humans who are still empowered with making the final decision. Other systems, are “fully automatic” and require no human input at all before a decision is made.
There is no universally accepted definition of artificial intelligence. The Government Office for Science defines AI as “the analysis of data to model some aspect of the world. Inferences from these models are then used to predict and anticipate possible future events”. The ICO differentiates this from normal data analysis by explaining that “AI programs don’t linearly analyse data in the way they were originally programmed. Instead they learn from the data in order to respond intelligently to new data and adapt their outputs accordingly”. In other words, the decision making process is not simply pre-programmed by a human but is itself analysed and modified. It would be possible to predict a decision made using normal automated data analysis by understanding how a program dealt with the different variables. In contrast, when AI is used it would not be possible to make such a prediction because the program or system is not only being tasked with analysing the data but also with the method of analysis.
Governments in the UK, Europe and throughout the world have already begun using AI technology. The government guide to using artificial intelligence in the public sector explains how the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has used AI to help ensure that MOT standards remained high and the Department for International Development (DFID) has used it to help developing countries better understand their population distribution. In Europe, the Danish government agency tasked with handling benefits has been using AI, and it has been used to improve efficiency at the Swedish Land Registry.
Controversially, AI and other forms of algorithmic decision-making, have also been deployed in the field of criminal justice, particularly in the United States. In some states judges are using automated systems that generate scores to indicate the likelihood of re-offending when determining whether bail should be granted, and when determining prison sentences for convicted criminals. In the UK its use has been much more limited. Durham Constabulary has developed with Cambridge University the Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART), a machine learning system which analyses 34 categories of data to predict the likeliness of reoffending. The tool is not though used to determine bail or sentencing decisions but only to inform the selection of candidates for a rehabilitation programme.
The European Parliament’s Panel for the Future of Science and Technology described algorithmic decision-making as being used in “energy, education, healthcare, transportation, the judicial system and security”.
Different algorithmic decision systems, including those employing AI, are already impacting on a wide variety of government work. The technology can be used to improve efficiency and effectiveness, saving valuable time and resources, but also has the capability to impact on individual rights. Given the range of technology and potential effects, it is unsurprising that it has been looked at as a challenge by public sector organisations and those affected by decisions made, or influenced, by it.
Further blogs will be looking at how administrative law might work to meet the challenge of these new methods of decision making, and what can be done by those developing and employing the technology to ensure that it works within the constitutional cornerstones of equality, legal accountability and transparency.
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Fred Allen is an associate within the Public Law Department and International Crime Group. His clients have included businesses, trade associations, religious institutions, schools, education providers, charities, and private clients including high net worth individuals, and senior political and business figures. He has worked on a range of public law challenges and matters including public inquiries; inquests; judicial review proceedings; tribunal appeals; defences against extradition requests and European Arrest Warrants; and applications to the European Court of Human Rights in relation to extradition and criminal proceedings.
In the last instalment we talked about the ways in which the founders of KNow Wear Limited could protect the intellectual property in their business. Since then, the business has been progressing well and our founders have been working on developing a prototype.
In our last instalment our founders, Sarah and Chris, considered the basics in establishing their tech startup and they incorporated a company under the registered name ‘KNow Wear Limited’.
Many companies in the tech sector will be aware of the new immigration system and Skilled Worker category opening in a couple of weeks on 1 December. For those companies without a sponsor licence, they will need to apply for one in order to recruit both non-EU and EU citizens. EU citizens resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Welcome back to the blog series covering the lifecycle of a tech startup, from a legal perspective.
Alex (tech), Andy (tech), Emer (investments) and I (investments) work alongside startups and founders day to day and thought it might to helpful to some of you out there to bring together our expertise on the legal issues that tend to arise and how we deal with them.
This blog will explore the difficulties currently facing tech coworking spaces in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, how providers can keep tenants engaged and what the future may hold for these spaces. For an audio introduction to this topic, please listen to episode 7 of our Tech in Two Minutes podcast.
In recent years there has been lively discussion about artificial intelligence revolutionising the way we work and live our lives. In its policy paper on the AI Sector Deal, the UK government predicted that the development of AI technology could have the same dramatic impact on society as the invention of the printing press.
The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has today (18 December 2019) given the tech sector an early Christmas present by publishing its interim report on its market study, commenced earlier this year, into online platforms and digital advertising.
If you are a trader selling to consumers online, whether that is through a web-based platform or a mobile app, it is important that you understand and comply with relevant consumer protection laws. Eager to launch, many traders fail to satisfy the key legal requirements of fairness and transparency in their online consumer terms despite serious consequences for non-compliance.
After a 13 year legal battle, the Supreme Court has awarded £2m in compensation to a professor for an invention he created during his employment, nearly forty years ago. This ruling poses the question; will Shanks v Unilever open the floodgates to future compensation claims from disgruntled employees?
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Whether you are in the market for short-term profit or making long-term investments, adequate planning is certainly a worthwhile (and small) investment of your time and money. If you’ve been savyy enough to successfully invest in crypto-assets, make sure you are smart enough to ensure your loved ones can benefit, should the worst happen.
Trust is the cornerstone of commercial activity and can be enhanced in the online world by the use of e-signatures and trust services. In this blog we review the different types of e-signature and consider their legal validity and security for executing contracts and deeds.
A strong online presence is often a crucial component of a business’ marketing strategy. If your business doesn’t have sufficient resources to develop its website in-house, it will need to engage a website developer. It is imperative to enter into a carefully drafted legally binding contract with your website developer from the outset of the project in order to protect your business interests and minimise the risk of any future disputes.
On 11 June, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a “Dear CEO” letter on how banks should deal with the financial crime risks associated with “cryptoassets”. The FCA defines cryptoassets as publicly available mediums of exchange that feature a distributed ledger and decentralised system for exchanging value, such as Bitcoin and Ether. These assets are more commonly known as cryptocurrencies.
Last month the National Crime Agency (‘NCA’) published its annual strategic assessment of Serious and Organised Crime (‘SOC’) in the UK. The data has come from a variety of law enforcement agencies and other sources including the National Cyber Security Centre (‘NCSC’).
Bitcoin, Ehtereum, Litecoin... cryptocurrencies are all over the press. Most of us are now broadly aware that cryptocurrencies are digital currencies which use blockchain technology. But how many people actually understand how the underlying technology works, what it means to ‘invest’ in a cryptocurrency, and appreciate the risks behind them? For anyone thinking about investing in cryptocurrencies, set out below is a summary of the main concerns, which should hopefully encourage you to stop and think before jumping on the crypto band wagon.
Increasingly, facts and figures about the negative effects of social media are being reported in the press. Recent statistics have shown that three-quarters of children aged 10-12 already have social media accounts, and that the amount of time children aged 12-15 spend online has more than doubled in a decade. Just last week, the Children’s Commissioner announced that schools should be playing a bigger role in preparing children for social media’s “emotional demands”. Such reports are understandably very concerning, and raise questions about the morality of social media giants benefiting at the expense of the emotional wellbeing of children. However, thought should also be given to the legal aspect of these relationships, and in particular, the terms and conditions that children are signing up to when creating social media accounts.
One in five NHS Trusts were hit by a cyber-attack known as “Wannacry” on 12 May 2017 leading to PCs and data being locked up and held for ransom. The malicious ransomware known as WanaCrypt0r has hit companies and other organisations, from Russia to Australia, and Europol estimated there had been 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries. It was alleged that NHS networks were left vulnerable because they were using outdated Windows XP software, which is no longer supported by Microsoft, and therefore security upgrades had not been installed. The National Cyber Security Centre warned that more cases of the ransomware were expected to come to light beyond the NHS and “possibly at a significant scale”.
We published a blog last year about Uber’s pilot and driverless cars and, at that point, it seemed straight out of the pages of a science fiction novel, but driverless cars are now well and truly amongst us, and it seems that everyone is jumping on the band wagon.
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