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UK taxmen turn heat on tax-swerving big biz, hope to smoke out £1bn

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has increased its focus on international businesses it suspects of using profit shifting techniques to avoid taxes in the UK, according to figures obtained by Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind A freedom of information (FOI) request made by the firm showed that the department's large …
OUT-LAW.COM, 22 Jan 2013
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Hooking offshore wind farms into UK grid will HIKE bills, MPs warn

It is "unlikely" that a new licensing system intended to connect offshore wind farms to the national grid will save consumers money, an influential committee of MPs has warned. In a report, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the offshore transmission operator (OFTO) licensing regime could instead "lead to higher …
OUT-LAW.COM, 15 Jan 2013
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Biz barons jumpy over EU draft data protection reforms

An MEP's suggested reforms to EU data protection laws, which are to be put to a vote before the European Parliament, would damage the interests of businesses, an alliance of business groups has said. In a statement, the Industry Coalition for Data Protection (ICDP) criticised the draft report that Jan-Phillip Albrecht …
OUT-LAW.COM, 14 Jan 2013
French cartoon, 1790: devil disguised as man walking tightrope

Happy now? Mobiles, cloud, big data now 'a growing security risk'

Innovations in mobile and cloud computing, social technology and the use of "big data" present an emerging risk to organisations' IT security, experts have warned. The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), which is an EU advisory body, said that those technologies would increasingly provide the platform for …
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Jan 2013
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A pre-ticked box in web forms should NOT mean consent - EU report

Businesses will not be able to use pre-ticked boxes to gain user consent for the processing of their data under changes proposed by the European Parliament to new EU data protection laws. In a new report, Jan-Philipp Albrecht, a rapporteur for the European Parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on the …
OUT-LAW.COM, 10 Jan 2013

New gov rules stick pin into bloated ICT frameworks

Following an internal review of government IT procurement, the Cabinet Office has announced that it has scrapped plans to use some existing ICT frameworks. It has said that government departments will only be able to establish framework agreements in future if they can show it will "explicitly deliver against key strategic …
OUT-LAW.COM, 08 Jan 2013
The male 'Blue moon' butterfly. Image credit: Sylvain Charlat

Chill out, biz barons... your new IT system might not look like the old one

Organisations that wish to update their IT systems and transform their business need to be careful not to be overly prescriptive with suppliers and overlook other important considerations, an expert in resolving IT disputes has said. Ian Birdsey of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that organisations often …
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Dec 2012
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ICO hits the road to crack 'underlying problem' at data-leak councils

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) will meet representatives from local authorities to address what it has called an "underlying problem" with the bodies' approach to data protection. The ICO made the announcement after it reported that it had served civil monetary penalty notices to four separate local authorities in …
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Dec 2012
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Tweeting bankers warned: U better not mislead customers...LOL

Banks must remember regulatory compliance issues when interacting with customers via Twitter, says an expert. Banks face regulatory risks when responding to customers through social media channels, a legal expert has said. A new study by Virgin Media Business has revealed that 63 per cent of banks now respond to customer …
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Dec 2012
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Silicon Roundabout £50m THING to spew 200 startups A YEAR

Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson have unveiled plans to establish a £50 million "technical and creative institute" around the area dubbed the Silicon Roundabout at Old Street in London. The plans, set out at a conference organised by LSE Cities, propose an architecture-designed scheme housing 200 …
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Dec 2012
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Start the clock! Public sector web MUST be disabled-friendly by 2015

Public sector organisations will be required to ensure that disabled users of their websites have the same access to certain content and services as other internet users by the end of 2015 under new European Commission proposals. The Commission said that more than 100 million EU residents would benefit from the rules it has …
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Dec 2012
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ICO: Anonymised data doesn't HAVE to guarantee your privacy

Data anonymisation does not have to provide a 100 per cent guarantee to individuals' privacy in order for it to be lawful for organisations to disclose the information, the UK's data protection watchdog has said. The view of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), detailed in a new code of practice (108-page/2.15MB PDF) …
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Nov 2012

OEMs and sellers must pay refunds on software faults - OFT

Businesses that sell digital content to consumers should generally be responsible for providing refunds when services connected to that content fall below "quality standards" due to faults with the content, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has said. The UK's consumer protection regulator said that consumers should have a " …
OUT-LAW.COM, 30 Oct 2012
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EC tells Euro rebels: Hike up your ebook tax to 15%, or else

Luxembourg and France must stop applying a reduced VAT rate to electronic books because doing so distorts competition across the rest of the EU and is in breach of EU tax laws, the European Commission has said. The Commission said it had issued both member states with "reasoned opinions" formally requesting that countries …
OUT-LAW.COM, 29 Oct 2012

Brace yourselves, IT suppliers: You'll be squeezed HARDER next year

IT law specialist Clare Murray of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that cost-cutting requirements and the changing needs of organisations are behind a rise in the number of IT outsourcing contract renegotiations. She said she expects the trend to continue. "Customers are under pressure to cut costs and are …
OUT-LAW.COM, 26 Oct 2012
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Sky staffer plundered database to benefit naughty false firms

A former Sky employee who took Sky customers' information from its databases and passed it on for use by others was guilty of misusing the company's confidential information and infringing the firms' database rights, the High Court has ruled. Steven Lee, who worked for Sky In-Home Service for more than five years, was also …
OUT-LAW.COM, 25 Oct 2012
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Brazilians strip Google News bare: News barons decide to pull out

Members of the National Association of Newspapers in Brazil (ANJ) have decided to stop Google from displaying snippets of their content on the internet giant's 'News' service. ANJ, which represents publishers making up approximately 90 per cent of the newspaper circulation market in Brazil, said that the appearance of its …
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Oct 2012
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EU judge scolds Austria: Data sheriffs must be properly independent

EU countries that merely provide for their appointed data protection authorities to have "functional independence" cannot be said to be compliant with EU law, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled. In order to be said to have "complete independence", DPA staff must not share the same offices as Government …
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Oct 2012
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'No cutting off people's internet based on secret evidence'

Ofcom should force rights-holders into publishing most of the details about how their systems for identifying cases of online copyright infringement work, a consumer watchdog has said. In a letter (6-page/1.71MB PDF) to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Consumer Focus said that it would seek "full transparency …
OUT-LAW.COM, 17 Oct 2012
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When cookie spewers single you out, it IS personal, barks watchdog

Information that can lead to individuals being "singled out and treated differently" should generally be classed as "personal data", an EU privacy body has recommended. The Article 29 Working Party has outlined changes (45-page/410KB PDF) to how it wants 'personal data' to be defined, and to what information the term should …
OUT-LAW.COM, 16 Oct 2012

Watchdog: Gov bods should rummage through BINS for FOI data

Public sector bodies will generally be required to disclose information even if it is stored in computer 'recycle bins', the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said. The watchdog has issued new guidance (25-page/350KB PDF) to help public bodies which are subject to the UK freedom of information (FOI) or environmental …
OUT-LAW.COM, 15 Oct 2012

ICO tries to justify hefty NHS data breach fines

The UK's data protection watchdog has defended its civil monetary penalty regime after it was criticised for the amounts of fines levied on public health bodies. Earlier this week Christopher Fincken, the chairman of the UK Council of Caldicott Guardians, said that the money NHS bodies were using to pay fines levied on them by …
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Oct 2012
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UK bungs £250m to factories stung by climate-change policy

The heaviest energy users are being asked to shape a proposed £250m compensation package designed to help reduce the impact of energy and climate change policies on the cost of their electricity. The new consultation, which sets out the design of the scheme, follows on from the Government's call for evidence on the issue in …
OUT-LAW.COM, 10 Oct 2012
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Don't delete that email! Why you must keep biz docs for 6 YEARS

Comment Companies should retain project emails and documents in a central repository for more than six years before considering deleting the information, an expert in resolving IT disputes has said. Ian Birdsey of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that organisations should consider retaining the information for …
OUT-LAW.COM, 09 Oct 2012
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Don't panic, but UK faces BLACKOUTS BY 2015

The UK risks energy shortages by 2015 or 2016, energy regulator Ofgem has predicted. The shortages will primarily be caused by EU environmental legislation forcing the early closure of coal and oil-fired power stations, it said. Its first annual Capacity Assessment [93-page / 1.9MB PDF] projects that electricity margins, or …
OUT-LAW.COM, 08 Oct 2012

EU green-lights 'copyright land grab' law on orphan work

EU ministers backed new laws to allow libraries, museums and universities - among other organisations - to digitise works that have become "orphaned" from their creators. The Council of Minister's formal adoption of the EU's Directive on orphan works [29-page 154KB PDF] means that member states will now have to implement the …
OUT-LAW.COM, 08 Oct 2012
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Google Wallet: Rub our button, cough 15p for quick read

A new scheme launched by Google is allowing internet users to pay to access content on individual pages on websites. The internet giant has partnered with a select number of publishers – including Oxford University Press and Peachpit – to enable users of its 'Google Wallet' mobile payment system to buy content from individual …
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Oct 2012
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Privacy guardian wants one EU rulebook on ID databases

Organisations tasked with certifying systems individuals use for inputting personally identifying information should have to abide by a "common set of security requirements", an EU privacy body has said. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) recommended that 'trust service providers', and those that issue individuals …
OUT-LAW.COM, 04 Oct 2012

HMRC: Moving our data to the cloud will make it MORE secure

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is to move data it currently stores in local offices to a new centralised government cloud computing depository in a move it says will save it £1m a year and improve on the security of its IT services. HMRC said it had signed a contract with Skyscape Cloud Services to enable it to store data in the …
OUT-LAW.COM, 03 Oct 2012
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Draft UK libel law forces websites to axe mudslinging comments

Courts would have the power to order website operators to remove comments that have already been ruled to be defamatory even if those website operators did not post the comments themselves, according to the latest revisions to the Defamation Bill. Under the Bill people who have been allegedly defamed would be able to bring an …
OUT-LAW.COM, 28 Sep 2012
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Got a data security policy? Chances are your IT bods don't know it

Advisory firm Forrester Research questioned 2,383 IT workers from five countries for a report called Understand The State Of Data Security And Privacy: 2012 To 2013, but only 56 per cent of those surveyed in North America and Europe said that they were aware of their employers' current data security policies, according to a …
OUT-LAW.COM, 27 Sep 2012
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7 English cities grab £12m for 'cash back' Green Deals

Seven English cities will receive a share of a £12m funding package to allow them to support and test the launch of the government's flagship Green Deal programme in their regions, the energy secretary has announced. Edward Davey said that the funding would enable the cities, each of which received devolved growth powers as …
OUT-LAW.COM, 25 Sep 2012
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Scottish islanders' wave power hopes sunk by 'massive costs'

The "massive costs" faced by developers in Scotland's first Marine Energy Park to connect their wave and tidal projects to the grid could potentially hold back investment, an industry body has warned. Speaking as the Marine Energy Conference begins in Inverness, Niall Stuart of Scottish Renewables said that despite an …
OUT-LAW.COM, 24 Sep 2012
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'People will give you their data if you don't do nobbish things with it!'

Businesses stand to benefit if they grant consumers more control over how their personal data is used, a policy think-tank has said. Demos said that consumers are suffering a "crisis of confidence" in relation to information sharing, and that businesses stand to enjoy a "significant advantage" over others if they have "open, …
OUT-LAW.COM, 20 Sep 2012
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Euro watchdog: We need ONE definition of 'illegal content' across EU

The European Commission should define what is meant by "illegal content" in order enable content 'hosts' to better understand what responsibilities they have to remove or disable access to such material, an EU privacy watchdog has said. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Peter Hustinx said that hosting service …
OUT-LAW.COM, 19 Sep 2012
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Twitter to Web super-snoop law will trample twits' rights

Twitter has said that government plans to increase the UK intelligence services' communications surveillance capabilities could cause it to breach the privacy rights of individuals based elsewhere in the world. The micro-blogging company said that complying with the requirements set out in the government's draft Communications …
OUT-LAW.COM, 18 Sep 2012
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Experts: What ICO should know BEFORE your private info ends up in a skip

The view of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) that businesses do not require individuals' "explicit consent" in order to contract others to process their sensitive personal data is in contrast with the wording of data protection law, according to two experts. A spokesperson for the UK's data protection watchdog told …
OUT-LAW.COM, 17 Sep 2012
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Worker dumps council staff's private data in supermarket skip

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) deemed that Scottish Borders Council had been guilty of a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. The watchdog said the organisation had failed to manage the outsourcing of the personal data processing properly. The Council had arranged for a man, known only as 'GS', to "digitise …
OUT-LAW.COM, 14 Sep 2012
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Osborne hands £80m tax break to punters drilling in 'old' oil, gas fields

A new tax break for operators of older "brown field" oil and gas fields in the North Sea shows that the government understands their continuing importance to the wider economy, an energy expert has said. Tom Cartwright of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that measures announced by the Chancellor of the …
OUT-LAW.COM, 13 Sep 2012
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ICO sets cookie-law flouters deadline - to open an HTML editor

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has set some website operators a deadline to begin efforts to comply with UK regulations that set out rules for the use of cookies. Dave Evans, the ICO's group manager for business and industry, said that some website operators had failed to "engage" with the watchdog about their use …
OUT-LAW.COM, 12 Sep 2012

Want to avoid another cookie law mess? Talk to EU bods next time

UK businesses should actively involve themselves in the debate over changes to EU law if they want to avoid problems stemming from the way those laws are drafted, an expert has advised. Technology law specialist Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind, said that businesses can help law makers avoid …
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Sep 2012
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Game devs beg UK taxman: Can we pay 30% less?

Companies involved in making video games in the UK should receive a tax break worth 30 per cent of what they owe, a trade association has said. TIGA, whose members include developers and technology firms involved in the UK video gaming industry, said a new Games Tax Relief (GTR) should be available to firms that incur costs …
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Sep 2012
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Ulster Bank waves £100 at punters pummelled by RBS IT fiasco

Small businesses and personal customers that were affected by IT problems experienced by Ulster Bank can claim up to £100 in expenses incurred as a result of the problems under plans outlined by the bank. In June RBS Group announced that a "large number" of its NatWest and Ulster Bank customers, and some RBS customers, had …
OUT-LAW.COM, 04 Sep 2012
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TripAdvisor didn't defame hotel by putting it on 'top 10 dirtiest' list

Website operators that base their rankings of goods or services on the "unverified" views of online users cannot be sued for defamation, a US judge has said. US district court judge Thomas Phillips said that although such systems may contain errors and not provide for good evaluation, they could not be labelled as defamatory …
OUT-LAW.COM, 03 Sep 2012
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O2 looses legal torpedo at Everything Everywhere 4G monopoly

Mobile phone operator O2 will appeal against Ofcom's decision to allow a rival firm to launch superfast broadband services later this year using its existing network capabilities, according to media reports. O2 has written to the telecoms regulator to announce its intention to appeal Ofcom's decision to the Competition Appeals …
OUT-LAW.COM, 31 Aug 2012

E-criminals nicked £205m from UK retailers last year

Online fraud and other 'e-crimes' have cost British retailers operating over the internet at least £205m in a year according to the first comprehensive study of the make-up and scale of crimes affecting e-commerce. According to figures (8-page / 590KB PDF) published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the direct and …
OUT-LAW.COM, 24 Aug 2012
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Hunt vows: 'UK will have fastest broadband in Europe by 2015'

The government's pledge to provide countrywide broadband access by 2015 has received another boost from the Culture Secretary, who has promised the "fastest broadband of any major European country". In a speech at Google's Campus in East London, Jeremy Hunt said that speed was the most important aspect of the government's …
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Aug 2012
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Facebook ordered to unmask anonymous trolls by beak

Facebook was given 24 hours to supply a court in Northern Ireland with the email addresses of account holders who used the site to post abusive messages about a Belfast company, according to press reports. Three staff members from the unnamed company have been targeted by messages on the site over a period of several months, …
OUT-LAW.COM, 22 Aug 2012
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ICO has yet to begin probing cookie violators

UPDATED According to a freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by PC Pro magazine, 320 websites have been reported to the privacy watchdog through its online submission tool since a year's 'grace period' ended on 26 May. However, none of those sites have been investigated. "At present the information has not yet been analysed …
OUT-LAW.COM, 21 Aug 2012
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Ready to patent that 'new' invention? Google is here to dash your hopes

The technology giant has created a new 'Prior Art Finder' which enables users to search "multiple sources" in order to review whether ideas they hope to patent are in fact novel. The tool, which "instantly pulls together information relevant" to patent applications, will enable inventors to review documents submitted with both …
OUT-LAW.COM, 17 Aug 2012