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Editorial This edition of LegalBytes covers a range of legal issues across the globe with a particular focus on the interplay between technology and market regulation. The year continues to be an interesting one as new technologies emerge, existing products are offered into new markets, and companies focus on expanding regulation in markets in which they operate. Multinational businesses have responded to changing technologies and consumer demands by adopting strategies geared towards global expansion. The situation in Cuba, which is the most recent recipient of digital streaming services, indicates a tempering of Cuba/US economic relations, and translates to a growing access to the Internet and payment cards by Cubans. This demonstrates that business leaders are now more than willing to face the challenges of growth into new and emerging markets. These challenges extend to poor infrastructure, limited access to banking and financial services and the miasma of unsophisticated regulators. As an IT lawyer operating on the Southern tip of Africa, I will follow this trend with particular interest. Corporate changes follow in the wake of shifting approaches to technology use and regulation. In addition to the movement of existing products and services into new markets, we continue to push the boundaries of what technology can achieve. In addition to ensuring that our entertainment and consumer needs can be met on demand, even in the most nascent markets, many products and services now aim to improve health and wellbeing.
This year will see even more growth in wearable technologies, which have blurred the lines between the medical device and the human body in pursuit of instant, accurate health monitoring and care. The race to bring technology closer to the human body is not limited to eye wear, various Smart Watches or even diagnostic tech shirts. We are now looking at prosthetic limbs which connect with the human nervous system in order to improve motion, control and even feeling. Issues that have to be taken into account vary from the commercialisation and regulation of such novel "medical products" to privacy, liability, consumer rights and the likely approach of regulators. We must not overlook the increase in cyber attacks and data breaches that captured the media's attention last year which will likely continue into 2015. The scale of these attacks is as great as the variety in the motivations of attackers, whether politically or commercially- inspired. It is therefore crucial to take pre-emptive steps to guard against disruption, and put in place reaction plans to limit downtime and protect personal information. As technology continues to disrupt businesses, there is no doubt that technological advancement does far more than improve cost savings or the efficiency of internal business operations. Commercial enterprise is more focused than ever on using it to facilitate and improve business outcomes. As all sectors continue to embrace this disruption, it is imperative that we are able to manage and ultimately thrive amidst this disruption. You will see from this edition of LegalBytes that Spain has recently enacted legislation regarding the use of digital signatures. Congruously, in South Africa, our Supreme Court of Appeal has recently handed down an award in relation to the significance of amendments to an agreement which required amendments to be in writing and signed by the parties. An agreement, which provided for consensual cancellation to be recorded in writing and signed by the parties to be valid, was terminated by an exchange of e-mails. Although not physically reduced to pen and paper, the court was prepared to uphold the cancellation. Also in this edition of LegalBytes, we have updates from the usual diverse array of offices where Baker & McKenzie's attorneys are keeping a keen eye on IT/C developments. In Argentina, we see courts ruling on limited liability in respect of search engines on matters of privacy and IP. Spain has introduced a new electronic national identity card, along with the ability to sign with electronic signatures which carry the same validity as a hand written signature. The Spanish Ministry of National Affairs has been hard at work on a mega data file aiming to collect huge volumes of air travel passengers' personal data. Australia has introduced a new mandatory Franchising Code of Conduct and has also sought to simplify the registration of trade marks in multiple countries through a single application. You will also read about two Canadian judgments by the Supreme Court regarding individual privacy interests in state investigations and the use of evidence so
obtained. I hope that you will enjoy and benefit from the summary of eclectic, global IT/C legal developments in this February 2015 edition of LegalBytes. Please do reach out to those IT/C attorneys who prepared summaries or articles in the edition, should you believe any issue raised will be of interest to you. Darryl Bernstein Baker & McKenzie, Johannesburg