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What technological developments will 2012 bring?

We've looked at what legal developments we know are on the horizon in 2012. Here we take a little look into the crystal ball at a selection of a few technological developments the new year might bring, and what legal issues these will trigger.

December 2011

Further growth of mobile computing

Smartphone sales are due to surpass PC and laptop sales in 2012, with more than 450 million units sold.  Drivers include:

  • Lower cost, smarter devices.
  • Continued thirst for content on the move.
  • Rapid growth in developing markets like Brazil and China.
  • Enterprise users of tablet devices will increase as business buyers respond to consumerisation of IT, and a plethora of business apps available.
  • Use of devices for non-communication purposes such as anti-fraud identification / transaction authentication and building access.

What legal issues will the increased use of mobile devices bring:

  • Transactions and content consumption on the move will mean increased challenges for businesses in navigating the often inconsistent requirements of local laws across different territories.
  • Perhaps an increased risk of unauthorised access to personal data from mobile devices.
  • An increasing amount of personal data beiadvertisingng held on mobile devices, particularly in a business context, meaning potential challenges under European data export rules.
  • Compliance with local advertising and trading laws.
  • Difficulties in operating a consumer sign-up process and privacy statements that satisfy all potentially relevant laws.

More clouds for everyone

Enterprise cloud models have been around for some time and some providers (such as Rackspace) being very successful in developing competitive products and market share. In 2012 and beyond the battle for desktop and mobile device virtualisation will hot up, driven by increased confidence in cloud models generally, increasingly mobile, multi-device users, and increasingly vast swathes of data and applications required.

The legal issues this will raise will include an evolution of the terms on which such cloud services are supplied into more customer-focused provisions rather than one-size-fits-all provisions that offer no real comfort on key concerns such as security, availability and liability. Privacy concerns will remain high on the agenda, and the location of servers will remain a key issue, with European based products having an obvious compliance advantage over international competitors.

Open source cloud models are beginning to arise which could lead to, finally, some real traction in the development of common format standards.

Further growth of Facebook

Many commentators are predicting further rapid uptake of Facebook in developing markets, on mobile phonemobile devices, a general continued growth of user numbers, and increased interoperability with other social network platforms, meaning it will remain the dominant social media force.

The legal issues this will drive will include increased awareness of the value of personal data, with the platform looking to leverage that value as far as possible with its advertisers. There may be competition law issues as the dominance of the platform affects markets.

Generic domain names for a few

The availability of ICANN's new Generic Top Level Domain Names will mean not only a number of businesses owning domain names that enable them to differentiate themselves and better reach their customers (think ".nike" or ".sony"), or to protect their domains from seizure by unfriendly authorities (think ".poker"), but may also create a new group of super-registries (think ".music"). With the application window approaching (January 2012) and expected to close 3 months later, and then not re-open for (potentially) years, this is a landgrab that hasn't been seen since the late 90s, but this time it's not dotcom entrepreneurs fighting it out but serious brand owners with deep pockets (the application fee being $185,000).

It will be interesting to see which brand owners have applied for what names, who prevails in the evaluation process next year, and whether the results throw up any brand disputes.

If you have any questions on this article please contact us.

Technological developments
Graham Hann

Graham Hann

There is a continued thirst for content on the move, cloudy skies and a dotcom land grab.

"Open source cloud models are beginning to arise which could lead to, finally, some real traction in the development of common format standards."