🌵 The UK's taming the digital wild west
In today’s email:
Tesla cars are too cheap
Starbucks isn’t fruity enough
Is napping your life’s purpose?
Sit on the right side of the bus
Create your own stained glass window
One thing you DON’T need to become a lawyer
Why the government’s forcing tech companies to spy on you
… and more!
EDITOR’S RAMBLE 🗣
I want to give a shoutout — or, really, some shoutouts because there have been loads of awesome people who’ve been sharing the newsletter this week.
🙏 Thank you, each of you, for your support
💫 Joe Aoun,
💫 Ranee Dinya,
💫 Arafat Jempeji,
💫 Ezra Qamar, and
💫 Lucianelle Semou (she’s happy to connect with any of you on LinkedIn).
If you know anyone who’s trying to get into law at a UK commercial firm, use your referral code below to share LittleLaw.
LAST WEEK’S POLL 📊
In last week’s newsletter, I asked if you thought pubs should change prices for drinks depending on demand at that time of day.
Here are the results! 👇️
🤔 What are your thoughts on 'dynamic pricing' at pubs?
🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✅ Totally get it, businesses need to cover costs (26)
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 ❌ Not a fan, prices should stay consistent (50)
⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ➖ Other (write in) (3)
Seems like you guys were generally not feeling the strategy.
… and here are what some of you had to say:
✅ Totally get it:
“Prices are going up due to inflation. The business needs to pass on some of these costs onto the consumer in order to maintain a certain level of profitability.”
“It would be interesting to know whether any of the extra money benefits the workers who have to deal with the busier times…”
“I prefer to go out during quieter times and would love to get cheaper drinks because of this! Less staff so less cost for the pub.”
❌ Not a fan:
“Prices should stay consistent for transparency and comparability. Unless the pubs make clear the time periods that price would increase, price should remain consistent.”
“Corporate greed at its finest. Post your profits and lets see if you need this surge to cover your business costs.”
“I would presume the surge pricing for Uber relates to supply and demand… This doesn't really apply that well to the pub situation given the overheads etc remain the same at the busier times.”
➖ Other (write in!):
“TFL has peak hour prices and now pubs do too… Eventually, the price will be increased by 20p permanently.”
FEATURED REPORT 📰
🌵 The UK's taming the digital wild west
Gif by JustSeconds on Giphy
What’s going on here?
The UK's Online Safety Bill (or OSB) has been passed by Parliament.
What does this mean?
Once the bill receives royal assent – when the King formally agrees to make it into an Act of Parliament – it will become law.
What is the OSB?
The OSB (which will be the Online Safety Act after being blessed by the King) sets tougher standards for online platforms like YouTube, Meta, TikTok and even Wikipedia.
Companies — small or large — will be expected to block or quickly remove problematic content. They’ll also have to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content by enforcing age limits and age-checking measures.
Companies that don’t comply with the new laws face huge fines of up to the greater of £18m ($22m) or 10% of their annual global revenue. Non-compliant senior managers could also face criminal sanctions.
What kind of content does it cover?
It cracks down on straight-up illegal content, like selling drugs and weapons, hate speech, revenge porn and planning terrorist activities.
But it also aims to stop material that’s potentially harmful but not illegal (like bullying and eating disorder content).
Who’s the regulator?
Ofcom, which is the UK regulator for communications services (like TV, radio and even the post).
Why did it take so long?
The bill was first pitched in 2019 but then we had the pandemic and some changes to government leadership (remember Boris Johnson and Liz Truss?), so it was delayed a lot.
How do tech companies feel about it?
Well, not good.
Firstly, it’s a new way for them to get a huge fine if they get things wrong.
But, secondly, it means that they may effectively have to spy on their users.
See, under the proposed bill, Ofcom had the power to force companies to proactively scan users’ private messages – this would need companies to break end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption is the tech that allows you to WhatsApp your mates without anyone from the company being able to read what you’ve sent.
But messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Signal weren’t okay with spying like that and even threatened to leave the UK if they were made to do it.
So the position in the bill was softened. Companies are asked to look into developing technology to scan encrypted messages without breaking end-to-end encryption. Also Ofcom’s said it would only require them to scan content where "technically feasible".
Why should law firms care?
25,000 businesses are impacted by this new law. This includes online marketplaces, dating apps, game sites – even foreign companies that have links to the UK will have to comply.
So businesses need to understand what to do to comply with the law – alongside other existing online safety laws (like the EU Digital Services Act or GDPR). Law firms, especially those specialising in technology, media, and digital rights, will be asked to guide their clients to make sure their operations are above board.
Aside from this, because of the OSB, law firms will get involved in other ways:
🔍 Reviewing (and amending) terms of service: Law firms will be involved in drafting, reviewing, and updating these documents to comply with the OSB.
🥊 Litigation: There's potential for increased litigation, both from users who feel their content was unjustly removed or that their reports were not adequately addressed. Lawyers will probably get involved in any disputes.
🗣️ Representations before regulators: If Ofcom investigates a platform or seeks to impose penalties, lawyers could be asked to represent the platform.
🤝 Mergers and acquisitions: For companies looking to acquire with online platforms, there will be an added layer of due diligence to ensure compliance with the OSB – law firms will play a role in this assessment.
🌍 International implications: For companies that operate internationally, there will be questions about how the UK's regulations interact with foreign regulations – global commercial law firms can advise on these sorts of things.
TOGETHER WITH GOWLING WLG* 🤝
Which ONE of these three things DON’T you need to become a commercial lawyer?
1️⃣ Strong communication skills
2️⃣ Attention to detail
3️⃣ A law degree
If you picked number 3, you were right. 👍️
Gowling WLG picks its lawyers without bias to law or non-law backgrounds.
In fact, a lot of the current trainees at Gowling WLG aren’t law grads.
Over the next few weeks, the firm’s hosting events to demystify commercial law.
Non-law students, mark 5 October in your diaries.
That’s when you can meet a panel of non-law trainees from Gowling WLG.
Discover their path into law – and grab some application tips.
* This is sponsored content
A BIT OF FUN 😄
Ever since I was young, I wanted to be a l̶a̶w̶y̶e̶r̶ napper 😴
IN OTHER NEWS 🗞
🌐 Global law firm Taylor Wessing just launched a unique crypto-based bonus programme. Lawyers at the firm will now have Metamask wallets and can earn "LAW Tokens" for outstanding contributions. These tokens can be traded, redeemed for perks, or even donated to charities. It also gives their lawyers a real taste of the blockchain tech many of their clients use.
🚗 Tesla may have beef with the European Union for selling China-made cars too cheaply. Tesla's stock took a bit of a hit after reports of the a probe into unfair subsidies in the clean energy car market. The concern? Cars made in China and sold in the EU might be benefiting from some hefty state-backed subsidies, making them artificially cheap. If the claims hold water, Tesla's China-made cars could face higher tariffs in the EU.
🍓 Starbucks is being sued in the US over its Refresher fruit beverages because the drinks don't actually contain any fruit. This is despite having names like Mango Dragonfruit and Strawberry Açai Lemonade. Starbucks' argues that those are just flavour descriptions, not ingredient lists. Fast food false advertising suits are becoming more common in the US. We’ve already covered claims against Taco Bell and Burger King.
💷 The Bank of England pulled a plot twist and decided to keep interest rates steady at 5.25% — despite earlier hints of hiking them. They've joined the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve in the "let's wait and see" club. And here's a fun tidbit: just talking about potential rate hikes can influence people's spending and saving habits. Who knew central banks had such Jedi mind tricks?
AROUND THE WEB 🌐
🪟 Bored: Create your own stained glass window by smashing up this website screen.
🚌 Cool: If you hate being blinded by the sun while on the bus, find out which side of the bus you should sit on to get shade.
🤖 Tech: AI is eating the world and your brain is on the menu. The team at BotEatBrain will keep you one step ahead of the bots with a smart, daily email summarising the latest headlines, tools, and opportunities in AI. Sign up for free.*
* This is sponsored content
STUFF THAT MIGHT HELP YOU 👌
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