A legal perspective on tech developments to watch in 2021

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The start of 2021 is still fresh enough for predictions on the coming year to be made. Weighing in from a legal perspective is Webber Wentzel as it looks at the key tech and IP developments for SA during 2020, as well as what to keep an eye on in 2021.

It is the latter which has grabbed our attention, with a few notable elements in particular dovetailing with our own interests – namely data regulation compliance, the cybercrimes bill, crypto regulation and the delayed copyright amendment bill.

Looks let at each of these individually and see what Webber Wentzel thinks will transpire in the coming months.

First is compliance around POPIA. In the middle of last year, key elements of the Act can into effect, with businesses across the country that handle data needing to be compliant by June of 2021.

According to the law firm, the Information Regulator is expected to publish guidelines to better help business understand the issues around compliance with POPIA. When that happens, the Regulator also intends on launch a system for handling complaints around POPIA, so business will need to have their houses in order when it comes to compliance this year, and the sooner, the better.

Looking at the Cybercrimes Bill, Webber Wentzel anticipates that it will be signed into law this year, with it already sitting with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Once it is signed, you can potentially receive up to 15 years of prison time for committing a cybercrime, depending on what the offence is of course.

The firm notes that this will be of particular importance to electronic communications service providers and financial institutions, which will need to familiarise themselves with the reporting and other obligations imposed on them.

Next is the regulation of crypto assets. It is well known how popular cryptocurrencies have become in recent years, but it has also been highlighted as an avenue for cybercrime. As such, organisations like the Financial Sector Conduct (FCSA) are keeping a close eye on the sector, and looking to put some measures in place too with the aforementioned cybercrimes bill.

“The steps taken by the FSCA to regulate crypto assets, together with the commencement of the Cybercrimes Bill will assist law enforcement agencies to detect and mitigate against financial cybercrimes,” says the report.

“Crypto asset providers will need to carefully assess the legal risks associated with conducting business in a potentially newly regulated field in 2021,” it adds.

The final aspect is one we’ve covered with interest previously, the Copyright Amendment Bill. This bill, along with the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill still require many inputs and consultations before it is ready to be sent to the president for signing.

“SA is under pressure to ensure that these Bills are acceptable to certain of SA’s international trade partners such as the US, or SA will face non-preferential treatment from such countries. Due to these factors, we expect delays in these Bills being signed into law,” say the experts at Webber Wentzel.

For further insight, you can download and read the report in full, here.

[Image – Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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