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Tech Legal Outlook 2020:

Mid-Year Update

Tech Legal Outlook 2020: Mid-Year Update

We explore seven of the key global trends likely to shape the technology sector in 2020 and consider the legal implications for businesses.

The rapid outbreak of Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown measures have dramatically changed life as we know it and transformed the business outlook for 2020. A striking feature of lockdown has been the need for a sudden shift to living and working online, and our continuing dependency on digital services for everything from healthcare to groceries, education to entertainment.

Covid-19 has accelerated existing trends and brought new momentum to the increased use of technology and data, digitisation and innovation across sectors such as healthcare and financial services, the rise of US and Chinese big tech, and protectionist policies seeking to safeguard national and regional interests.

From a legal perspective, there have been changes to the law and the approach of regulators. Steps have been taken to protect national interests and support individuals and businesses suffering financially. There are continuing regulatory investigations and enforcement activity and, going forward, we anticipate a renewed focus on regulating the digital economy.

7 Tech Trends at Mid-Year 2020

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We have identified seven key global trends for the second half of 2020.

1

Tech investment and funding trends

Overall in 2020, we expect there to be a strong tech M&A market. Cash-rich companies will look to use this year to acquire tech and talent in a more buyer-friendly market or pursue consolidation opportunities. In the digi-infra space, the lockdown has emphasised the need for continued investment in technology infrastructure and the pace of fibre and data centre deals has only increased as funds and strategics flex their muscles in this critical area.

2

Foreign direct investment control and deglobalisation

The rapidly changing regulatory environment creates risks and uncertainty for investors considering cross-border investments. Going forward, we expect investments in the technology space to be subject to close scrutiny.
3

Employment and the future of work

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented unforeseen and unprecedented challenges for organisations from an employment perspective. While the most tech-savvy and experienced in remote working have been some of the best able to adapt to new working practices and remote ways of working, challenges have emerged in other areas.
4

Tech in the spotlight – have we reached “peak privacy”?

As reliance on technology and data has increased dramatically through the crisis, some tension has emerged between the increased use of data and the restrictions on data analysis and disclosure that may be imposed by privacy laws, posing a key question: “Have we reached peak privacy?”
5

AI and IP - driving innovation and digital health

Curated data, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) have been driving innovation across many sectors. The Covid-19 outbreak has triggered an acceleration in its use in the development of digital health, from modelling the outbreak and predicting patient demand, to drug development and diagnosis. Intellectual property law will need to adapt to protect investment in developments and enable innovation.
6

Regulation of Big Tech

The pandemic has accelerated the use of technology and data, and increased dependency on major tech companies. These tech companies have out-performed the market during the crisis and they are again in the regulatory spotlight. As a result, we expect to see further moves to regulate the digital economy in coming months.
7

Acceleration of digitalisation and the role of fintech

The lockdown measures implemented during the Covid-19 crisis have provided an extended proof of concept for a remote living and working model. This has accelerated digitalisation, with some commentators predicting that in the next 18 months, we may see digital transformation that would otherwise have taken five to seven years.
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