The issue of data protection
continues to be one of the main topics in IT law, following a spate
of high-profile cyber-attacks in the past few years. What
regulatory changes have you seen to try and prevent further attacks
and have these caused an increase in work for
Richard Kemp: As data volumes explode
(currently at the rate of 10 times every five years) and computing
migrates to the cloud, data regulation continues to become more
intrusive and onerous. In addition to all the changes we're
seeing around data protection (the progress of the new General Data
Protection Regulation, fallout from the Schremsand
Weltimmo cases), clients are getting to grips with what
big data and the internet of things means for them in terms of the
personal data that they control and process. Along with data
protection, data sovereignty (when government or other agencies can
access your data in the cloud without your knowing) and data
security (the technical, legal, organisational and management steps
an organisation takes to achieve its desired security outcomes) are
becoming increasingly important to all our clients. These
regulatory changes mean we're looking at a whole new practice
area around data law.
Outsourcing is another area which was mentioned
regularly during our research and identified as a leading trend.
Has this been the case in your jurisdiction, and are there any
other major trends affecting your work?
Richard Kemp: Outsourcing continues to be a
major cost and efficiency driver in the UK for a range of our
clients, particularly as it becomes practical to do smaller, more
granular outsourcing deals with a high degree of confidence.
Another major trend is the third platform, a term coined by
research consultancy IDC to describe the convergence of the cloud,
big data and mobile. Cloud data centres are the engine room of the
cloud, which is now the "new normal", with cloud services
growing at 25 per cent per year, and many clients are increasingly
putting out their workloads to the cloud. Data volumes – 80
per cent unstructured from the internet – are growing at the
rate of 10 times every five years and clients are starting
enterprise-wide information governance and big data analytics
projects to harness competitive advantage. Mobile has an impact in
many ways – not least in reshaping the boundaries between
work and home life, with mobiles and bring-your-own-device. All
these trends generate work for IT lawyers.
The increasing number of niche and boutique firms in
the market continues to grow, appealing to the start-up market with
their lower fees and highly specialised services. Has this been an
issue in your jurisdiction, and if so what effects has it had on
the legal market?
Richard Kemp: Yes, and we're a case in
point – when I set up my previous firm 20 years ago, we spent
£200,000 on IT in the first 18 months. Eighteen months out at
Kemp IT Law and with the cloud, we've spent £30,000 with
significantly greater IT functionality and flexibility. IT running
costs are negligible compared with on-premises IT. Working from
home is now completely acceptable to all types of clients as they
judge by service quality, so we no longer have rent, one of the
largest law firm outgoings. All this make it easier and more
attractive for niche and boutique firms, who are able to deliver an
enhanced service at a better price for the client and margin for
themselves, without the risk and bother of a larger practice.
It's all about the client at the end of the day and delivering
the service they want, and as clients get more discerning about the
range of provider options they have to choose from for particular
kinds of work, I believe we'll see more niche and boutique
firms in the IT area.
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While companies prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to take effect in May 2018, another highly significant item on the agenda is arguably the current review process of the proposal for a Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications (ePrivacy Regulation).
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