A new year – and new challenges for those of us who assist organisations with legal issues and ensure they comply with regulatory requirements. What does 2018 have in store in for us? Below are our predictions of the major themes or priorities for 2018. Predictions are a tricky business and can make a fool out of anybody. Not all our predictions will be proven right (many of our predictions for 2017 were accurate), but our predictions should empower you to plan your year ahead and we hope it is a very productive one for you. Do you think we’ve left out anything that applies to you? We are interested in any comments or thoughts you have. Please feel free to email us and let us know.
Data protection compliance becomes a non-negotiable
The deadline to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is 25 May 2018. Some organisations have finished implementing the changes they need to make to comply, others are just starting and some don’t even yet know that they have to comply. Many organisations will soon realise that they fall within the jurisdictional scope of the GDPR and must take steps to comply as quickly as possible. We are running a complimentary webinar to help you work out whether you must comply with the GDPR or not. Many organisations will analyse the gap between their current activities and what data protection laws require them to do and realise that they have work to do. We also offer a complementary high-level data protection impact assessment to help you understand the impact and work out your next best steps.
Regulators will not fine controllers this year but some class actions by data subjects for civil damages will begin or be confidentially settled.
In South Africa, the Information Regulator will promulgate the POPIA regulations in the first half of the year and announce the POPIA commencement date, which will be in the second half of 2018. Organisations that must comply with POPIA will increase their efforts to comply with POPIA so that they are ready by the end of the one year grace period.
The law regards electronic communications will be updated
Europe will enact the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) or ePrivacy Regulations, which (together with the GDPR) is the second column of data protection regulation in the EU. This will set the tone for direct electronic marketing regulation throughout the world. In South Africa, the law regards electronic communications will be updated.
Technology will enable more efficient legal solutions
All kinds of technology (from chatbots, to websites, to AI, to CRMs, to self-assessment tools, to contract management tools, to automatic document assembly tools) will be used to provide legal services better and cheaper than ever before. The distributed ledger of the blockchain will be used to build trust in key areas, such as identity verification, property ownership, and authenticating diamonds and artworks.
More legal services will be provided to many clients, rather than to one client. Many clients share the same problems or requirements to meet the same regulations. By doing it together with others, clients do it quicker and cheaper than going it alone. This is why we will be offering various web-based compliance programmes and running various workshops and webinars during 2018.
The law will struggle to keep up with new technologies
The speed of advanced technology development is breathtaking. Things like robots, AI, AR, neural networks, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will start to have a real impact. The law will continue to struggle to keep up and people wishing to sell, implement and use these new technologies will have to think out of the box until the law catches up.
Laws to combat cyber or information security will be enacted
The importance of cyber and information security is as great as ever and breaches, hacks and cybercrime will continue to increase. Laws will be enacted to try to combat cybercrime by making it easier to catch and prosecute criminals. In South Africa, the Cybercrimes Bill will be enacted despite its many flaws (one of which is Internet censorship).
The traditional contract will be reimagined
Contracts are essentially a set of agreed promises and are the foundation of many aspects of society. By formalising relationships, contracts create certainty, make relationships better and avoid disputes between the parties. But there are problems with traditional contracts. The laws on how they should be interpreted have changed, they are often hard to enforce, they are often time-consuming and expensive to draft, negotiate and sign. Enter plain legal language, smart contracts using the blockchain, shorter documents, and automatic document assembly. These things will help us reimagine and innovate the traditional contract.
Organisations will improve governance
All over the world organisations will focus on good governance and in South Africa, most organisations will transition from King III to King IV at some point depending on when their reporting period begins.
Organisations will focus on anti-bribery and corruption compliance
Bribery and corruption are a big problem around the world and the risks of non-compliance have become huge. In 2018, many organisations will suffer the severe consequences of failing to adequately deal with this issue, which will force all organisations to focus on the issue and spend the money to proactively comply with the applicable laws.