From the Co-Chairs – Communications Law

Alfonso Silva and Blanca EscribanoMonday 2 August 2021

Welcome to the newsletter

Once again, we are pleased to present the latest IBA Communications Law Committee newsletter. This edition includes outstanding articles by authors who are experiencing day-to-day the rapid emergence of legal and regulatory issues arising from the digitalisation of communications worldwide.

After several years of the promotion and marketing of the digital ecosystem as a major solution for improving people’s lives, its mass usage has been causing clear concerns regarding the protection of the rights of individuals and the community. These concerns, although partly visible, have been addressed by our specialised community over the years. However, recently, both legislators and regulators worldwide have started to identify significant issues in this regard and are currently making their best efforts to provide solid and robust legal and regulatory frameworks to protect such rights in an efficient and effective manner. Such goals may, however, be much more difficult to achieve than was initially thought. On the one hand, thousands of new digital services and platforms – which provide new solutions and digital structures – are continuously emerging. On the other, the complexity of the digital ecosystem has forced legislators and regulators to rethink how regulation needs to be implemented, by requiring assistance of interdisciplinary bodies to understand and identify the arising threats and issues. Finally, the countless number of entities that interact within the digital ecosystem, each in a specific and unique way, make it extremely difficult to allocate commitments, responsibilities, and liabilities.

The result of the legislators and regulators’ efforts is extremely important, not only for the countries in which they have the authority to apply and enforce their rules but also for countries which are far behind in the race to regulate the digital ecosystem, since the global and immediate reach of networks – such as the internet – could diminish the effectiveness of such rules due to safe harbours. Furthermore, as humankind is rapidly becoming a hyper-connected society following the global deployment of 5G and other new technologies, which will grant algorithms and the artificial intelligence the power to make innumerable daily and critical decisions in place of relevant users.

As you’ll notice from this newsletter, the authors’ contributions address all the above matters involving the core players of the digital ecosystem. Among the contributions, you will find articles regarding pioneering standardising relating to media (the publication of the new States’ Treaty on the modernisation of media legislation in Germany), and the European Commission’s effort for setting global standards in the regulation of digital services, digital markets, and artificial intelligence. From South America, the newsletter includes an article on a successful 5G services public bidding process led by the Chilean government, which had to deal with several legal, regulatory, and judicial rules aimed at not only expanding the mobile operators’ market, but achieving a better and more equitable spectrum distribution, and imposing more responsibilities on the incumbents. You will also find comments on guidelines issued by Brazil’s data protection authority on best practice when faced with data breaches. These consider new rights for data subjects and obligations for personal data processors.

If, in 2020, we were certain about the importance of communications law and its related fields, then the past few months have further strengthened our convictions. The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for much longer than we originally anticipated, which has boosted the need to implement communications technology in almost every aspect of daily life. This means that everyone involved in this field should be enthusiastic and prepared to contribute as much as they can – with a global point of view – taking advantage of the possibility the IBA gives us all to meet, discuss and learn from this great legal community.

In this sense, we do not want to miss the opportunity to highlight the fact that the work and collaboration among IBA members and committees has been outstanding during these difficult times. We would also sincerely like to thank the contributors to this edition of the newsletter, which allows the Committee to share its extraordinary vision of the present and future of our field contained in these articles. We are confident that we will be able to resume our face-to-face activities sooner rather than later, with greater motivation and resilience than ever before.

Stay safe, and all the best.

Alfonso Silva
Co-Chair, IBA Communications Law Committee

Blanca Escribano
Co-Chair, IBA Communications Law Committee