In this month's issue, we asked Dan Roskis, a partner specializing in the TMT sector in our Paris office, to give us his thoughts on what are the "hot topics" for the TMT sector in France over the next 6-12 months.

Dan Roskis comments: "TMT is a particular specialism of ours, as we are daily involved in a substantial amount of work for our clients in the audiovisual and IP/IT field, giving us insight on the "hot topics" for the sector" and consequences for our clients.

In the last 6 months, TMT itself has been a hot topic in France, regularly making the headlines with a few resounding affairs. Firstly, with the CNIL (French Data Protection Authority) being mandated by the G29 (the group of all EU Data Protection Authorities) to review and analyse Google's new privacy policy in order to assess its compliance with the European Data Protection Directive. This implies that Data Protection policies of international groups are in the loop of the regulatory body. Also, with the Competition Authority withdrawing its 2006 clearance decision of the merger of satellite TVs TPS and Canal Sat, for not implementing correctly the commitments made by the parties back then. This shows in particular that parties to mega-merger transactions should make an upstream thorough assessment of the feasibility before making proposals of remedies to get a clearance from regulatory authorities.

In terms of market trends, it is interesting to observe that giants such as Google or Amazon are diversifying their activity. In particular, we anticipate that the e-book sector will expand significantly in the coming year. As for the television sector, we observe higher diversification of traditional TV media towards activities related to the Internet, with new services such as catch-up TV or interactive TV.

As far as our activity is concerned, Data Protection has been a key area of work for TMT sector clients and we anticipate it will be more and more.  The French Senate has adopted a resolution following the adoption by the European Commission of the draft new privacy Regulation. The French resolution condemns the possibility that only the Data Protection Authority of the country of establishment of the data controller be responsible for the control of such data controller (so-called "one-stop shop").  The French National Assembly is reviewing a resolution in very similar terms. Assuming that the bill will be adopted by Parliament, French consumers would still be entitled to lodge complaint before the French regulatory body for data protection matters (the "CNIL"). This would have an important impact for on-line retail activities of our international clients in France. International retail companies operating within the EU should indeed check the compliance of their data protection policies with our local rules as interpreted by the CNIL.

Much of the legal work in the TMT sector in France includes drafting of commercial agreements or GTCs for on-line selling activities and advising our clients on privacy and Data Protection regulatory issues.  We are also developing our competition practice in the TMT sector, in particular in the TV sector and for on-line advertising and distribution as there is more and more need to understand the regulatory regime in the sector as companies expand their activities. In that respect, we generally consider our client's activities not only in their primary area but we adopt take global media perspective, for instance to cover all media or distribution means in the acquisitions of audiovisual or IP rights. Finally, we are witnessing an increased interest for compliance-related work, through the drafting of internal rules to the attention of employees or delivering face-to-face or on-line trainings.