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Steven de Schrijver: "Due to the increased use of cloud solutions during Covid-19, cybersecurity threats have risen"
IT, media and telecoms expert Steven de Schrijver and GDPR expert Olivier Van Fraeyenhoven spoke to Leaders League about the challenges faced and overcome during one of the firm’s recent highprofile cases, explained the impact of digitalization in the automotive industry, and assessed the exponential growth of AI systems in the legal industry.
Astréa handed x Leaders League
Steven de Schrijver
LEADERS LEAGUE: Your law firm has worked on the set up of Streamz, one of Netflix’s chief competitors in Belgium. What were the obstacles that you had to overcome on their behalf?
Steven De Schrijver: Astrea acted as lead counsel to DPG Media, the largest media broadcasting company in Belgium, on the setting-up of an ambitious joint venture with Telenet, a listed mobility services provider (affiliate of the Liberty Group), to launch and commercialize a brand-new local streaming/SVOD platform in Belgium called Streamz, which is aiming to become the biggest competitor to Netflix in the country. Astrea’s technology-law department was responsible for drafting and negotiating the license and development agreement with regards to the streaming platform, the data sharing and processing agreements and the content license agreements required for the launch and commercialization of Streamz.
Your IT team represents multiple automobile brands. Was this a strategic maneuver by the practice or did it happen naturally given the pace of technological change in the car industry?
Olivier Van Fraeyenhoven: Astrea has built a growing presence over the years in the automotive industry thanks to its strong experience in commercial and technology law. Astrea now provides legal support to multiple well-known automotive brands in relation to their development towards further innovation. This evolution is clearly moving in the direction of increased and rapid digitalization. We first saw this in the vehicle sales, which more and more are happening online, but it also concerns after-sales service, with online diagnostics and remote repairs. One should not forget the future offer of multiple additional services via connected vehicles. Car manufacturers have a mountain of data at their disposal and the exploitation of this data is only just beginning.
‘‘The European Union’s proposed AI regulation could shape the legal future of this mostly unregulated domain’’
What upcoming IT trends do you foresee having an impact on Belgian law?
The strong growth of new AI systems brings exciting opportunities in many walks of life and just as many legal questions. The European Union has launched its first-ever proposal on AI regulation which, if approved, go a long way to shaping the legal future of this mostly unregulated domain. This poses interesting questions for Belgian law: Who should be liable when AI fails? Where does the buck stop on determining whether a certain AI system entails a high-risk? Who decides if the data sets are of sufficient quality to avoid the system taking wrong decisions, which could cause losses to the company or clients? AI systems used by public authorities may well be the first to be regulated in Belgium. A proposal before parliament seeks to disclose the main algorithmic rules of such systems online, especially when they are used for individual decisions. This could increase the transparency of, and trust in, such technology. The digital world has been given a boost due to covid-19, as more people and companies turn to cloud environments for their work. This increases the amounts of data available online and, of course, the risk of cybersecurity breaches. Belgium has recently implemented the NIS directive, which provides certain cybersecurity obligations for critical infrastructure, including digital infrastructure, such as cloud computing.
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