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Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence

Saturday 16 January 2021

What will happen with the digital services platforms, information society services and electronic commerce that operate from the United Kingdom?

Once the Transition Period finalises on 31 December 2020, European law will definitively cease to apply in the United Kingdom, and hence the regulation of information society services and electronic commerce established will depend on the agreement reached in the new bilateral relations on this matter during the course of the negotiations on the agreement on future relations between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU).

Specifically, Directive 2000/31/CE, on information society services and electronic commerce will cease to apply in the United Kingdom on 1 January 2021, when the UK leaves the Customs Union and the Single Market. The agreement reached means the elimination of unjustified barriers to electronic commerce and data flows, while respecting the rules on data protection.

This will have serious repercussions on British service providers, who will be unable to benefit from the principle of country of origin and may be subject to the sector legislation of the Member States where their services are destined for, and may even need prior authorisation. For their part, online intermediation service providers established in the United Kingdom will lose their exemption from liability for the content they host.

Furthermore, online intermediation service providers established in the United Kingdom will continue to be subject to Regulation (EU) 2019/1150, which regulates relations between electronic platforms and corporate users, provide that their services are aimed at companies established in the EU that provide services to European consumers. Consequently, the obligations of transparency and equity established in this Regulation will remain in force.

As regards electronic identification and reliable electronic services, will they lose their legal effects?

The EU legal framework set up under Regulation (EU) 910/2014 and its implementing regulations establish that the conditions for an electronic identification system, on the one hand, and for qualified services offered by reliable electronic service providers, on the other hand, are recognised and accepted in all Member States.
As from 1 January 2020, with the aim of facilitating electronic commerce, the agreement includes provisions according to which legal effects will not be refused for documents, signatures, stamps, timestamps and electronic delivery services for the mere fact of their electronic nature.

What will happen with the cybersecurity of network and information systems?

Directive (EU) 2016/1148 on security of network and information systems will not apply as from 1 January 2021 in the UK.

However, those digital service providers (cloud computing, online markets and search engines) that are established in the United Kingdom and offer their services to EU companies and citizens will be obliged to designate a representative in the EU, notify the activity to the competent authority of that Member State and comply with the security measures established in the Directive and in its implementing regulations.

For their part, digital service providers established in the EU that offer their services in the United Kingdom must designate a representative in this third country, notify this to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), and comply with the security measures for network and information systems in force in the UK.

The agreement establishes cooperation mechanisms, including the exchange of best practices, as well as the participation of the UK on an invitation from the EU in the EU Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU), in the Cooperation Group established by virtue of Directive (EU) 2016/1148 (NIS), and in the activities of the European Cybersecurity Agency (ENISA).

Can UK nationals be holders of an .eu Internet domain?

Regulation (EU) 2019/517, on the implementation and functioning of the top-level domain name seeks to regulate the application of the country code top-level domain, as well as the designation, characteristics and legal framework and framework of action of the designated Registry.

This Regulation provides that as from 1 January 2021, the businesses and citizens of the United Kingdom that are not established in the EU may not be holders of an .eu Internet domain and will be stripped of the domains they held until such time.

Non official translation


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