European Union

On 9 October 2023, the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) and Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) agreed revised wording to amend the European Commission’s (the “EC”) proposed new Product Liability Directive (the “Directive”). The vote was passed with 33 votes in favour to 2 against. If adopted, the Directive will replace the existing (almost 40-year old) Directive 85/374/EEC on Liability for Defective Products, which imposes a form of strict liability on product manufacturers for harm caused by their defective products.Continue Reading EU Legislative Update on the New Product Liability Directive

On June 27, 2023, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a political agreement on the Data Act (see our previous blog post here), after 18 months of negotiations since the tabling of the Commission’s proposal in February 2022 (see our previous blog post here).  EU lawmakers bridged their differences on a number of topics, including governance matters, territorial scope, protection of trade secrets, and certain defined terms, among others.

The Data Act is a key component of the European strategy for data. Its objective is to remove barriers to the use and re-use of non-personal data, particularly as it relates to data generated by connected products and related services, including virtual assistants. It also seeks to facilitate the ability of customers to switch between providers of data processing services.

We’ve outlined below some key aspects of the new legislation.Continue Reading European Parliament and Council Release Agreed Text on Data Act

Late yesterday, the EU institutions reached political agreement on the European Data Act (see the European Commission’s press release here and the Council’s press release here).  The proposal for a Data Act was first tabled by the European Commission in February 2022 as a key piece of the European Strategy for Data (see our previous blogpost here). The Data Act will sit alongside the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), Data Governance Act, Digital Services Act, and the Digital Markets Act.Continue Reading Political Agreement Reached on the European Data Act

On 31 May 2023, at the close of the fourth meeting of the US-EU Trade & Tech Council (“TTC”), Margrethe Vestager – the European Union’s Executive Vice President, responsible for competition and digital strategy – announced that the EU and US are working together to develop a voluntary AI Code of Conduct in advance of formal regulation taking effect. The goal, according to Vestager, is to develop non-binding international standards on risk audits, transparency and other requirements for companies developing AI systems. The AI Code of Conduct, once finalized, would be put before G7 leaders as a joint transatlantic proposal, and companies would be encouraged to voluntarily sign up.Continue Reading EU and US Lawmakers Agree to Draft AI Code of Conduct

On 11 May 2023, members of the European Parliament’s internal market (IMCO) and civil liberties (LIBE) committees agreed their final text on the EU’s proposed AI Act. After MEPs formalize their position through a plenary vote (expected this summer), the AI Act will enter the last stage of the legislative process: “trilogue” negotiations with the European Commission, Parliament and the Council, which adopted its own amendments in late 2022 (see our blog post here for further details). European lawmakers hope to adopt the final AI Act before the end of 2023, ahead of the European Parliament elections in 2024.

In perhaps the most significant change from the Commission and Council draft, under MEPs’ proposals, providers of foundation models – a term defined as an AI model that is “trained on broad data at scale, is designed for generality of output, and can be adapted to a wide range of distinctive tasks” (Article 3(1c)) – would be subject to a series of obligations. For example, providers would be under a duty to “demonstrate through appropriate design, testing and analysis that the identification, the reduction and mitigation of reasonably foreseeable risks to health, safety, fundamental rights, the environment and democracy and the rule of law prior and throughout development” (Article 28b(2)(a)), as well as to draw up “extensive technical documentation and intelligible instructions for use” to help those that build AI systems using the foundation model (Article 28b(2)(e)).Continue Reading EU Parliament’s AI Act Proposals Introduce New Obligations for Foundation Models and Generative AI

On April 18, 2023, the European Commission published its proposal for an EU Cyber Solidarity Act (“CSA”).  It aims to strengthen incident detection, situational awareness, and response capabilities, and to ensure that entities providing services critical for day-to-day life can access expert support to manage their cyber risk and respond to incidents.  Specifically, the CSA aims to promote information sharing about cyber incidents and vulnerabilities, to help improve the cyber resilience of critical entities, and to create an EU-wide resource for incident management.

The CSA adds another layer to the increasingly crowded landscape of EU cybersecurity laws.  The proposed law would interact with the revised Network and Information Security Directive (“NIS2”) and certifications issued under the Cybersecurity Act. Private companies in specific sectors will also have to consider potential overlap with the forthcoming Cyber Resilience Act and the financial services-focused Digital Operation Resilience Act.

Below, we set out three striking features of the CSA that are likely to be of particular relevance to private companies.Continue Reading Three Interesting Features of the Proposed EU Cyber Solidarity Act

On March 22, 2023, the German Conference of Independent Supervisory Authorities (“SAs”) adopted an opinion on websites that offer users a choice between (i) a free version that tracks users’ behavior or (ii) a (usually paid) version that does not track users’ behavior.Continue Reading German Supervisory Authorities Publish Opinion on (Paid) Subscription Websites

On March 24, 2023, the Italian data protection authority (“Garante”) approved a Code of conduct (“Code”) on telemarketing and telesales activities.  The Code was promoted by various Italian industry and consumer associations, pursuant to Article 40 of GDPR. 

The Garante notes that the Code reflects broad industry consensus, and welcomes it as an important step to ensuring the lawful performance of the covered activities.  The Garante have been historically active in regulating telemarketing and telesales companies, and has applied some of its largest fines to this sector. We provide below an overview of the Code’s key provisions and obligations.Continue Reading Italian Garante Approves Code of Conduct on Telemarketing and Telesales

On March 24, 2023, the Austrian Supervisory Authority (“Austrian SA”) held that a credit referencing agency (“Agency”) breached the GDPR by unlawfully processing personal data obtained from a third party in order to process it to conduct credit assessments.  It decided that the Agency breached the GDPR’s principle of lawfulness because it did not have a valid legal basis to process the personal data.  This case will be relevant for organizations assessing their lawful basis for processing personal data.Continue Reading Austrian Supervisory Authority Issues Decision on the Collection of Personal Data by Credit Referencing Agency

The EU’s AI Act Proposal is continuing to make its way through the ordinary legislative procedure.  In December 2022, the Council published its sixth and final compromise text (see our previous blog post), and over the last few months, the European Parliament has been negotiating its own amendments to the AI Act Proposal.  The European Parliament is expected to finalize its position in the upcoming weeks, before entering into trilogue negotiations with the Commission and the Council, which could begin as early as April 2023.  The AI Act is expected to be adopted before the end of 2023, during the Spanish presidency of the Council, and ahead of the European elections in 2024. 

During negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament, we can expect further changes to the Commission’s AI Act proposal, in an attempt to iron out any differences and agree on a final version of the Act.  Below, we outline the key amendments proposed by the European Parliament in the course of its negotiations with the Council.Continue Reading A Preview into the European Parliament’s Position on the EU’s AI Act Proposal