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Cartel Law and Digitization: Blockchain, Data Risks, and Legal Departments

Posted 03/14/19 4:55 PM by Dominic Piernot

The cartel law boutique Euclid Law and the eDiscovery service provider Inventus hosted the kick-off event in the series "Antitrust Law and Digitization" on February 14, 2019 in Frankfurt. In a very free and constructive format, the representatives of ThyssenKrupp AG, Commerzbank AG, and Innogy SE presented their views on the challenges and opportunities of digitization for their industries.

 

Initially, the internal clarification of possible antitrust violations played a role in the discussion and participant questions. Especially with regard to the question of how the internal compliance structures for the proactive compliance information should be set up technically and organisationally. The speakers provided information about the nuances of the respective industries and their priorities. 

 

Legal Data Risks on the Rise 

Companies are seeing an ever-increasing risk profile - topics such as bring your own device, mobile devices and social networks, as well as the changing application profile of the younger generation, require a consistent "tone from the top" strategy when it comes to avoiding and identifying digital risks. Recently, one read about the theft of the password databases or the very dangerous "phishing" form of the so-called CEO fraud, in which a fake internal sender asked for the transfer of a large and urgent sum of money.

 

There was consensus that the risks cannot be completely avoided. The balance between ease of use and safety often raises the question of a compromise. The speakers told the plenary session that compliance culture should generally have an "open door" to allow staff members to express their views (possibly anonymously) and to identify potential dangers early on.

 

Examples of risk-reduction IT security measures discussed included:

  • - Internal training
  • - Penetration tests
  • - Internal "hacker" teams
  • - In-house IT security experts
  • - First response teams
  • - Pre-installed end devices

Cooperation is Key Between Legal, Compliance, and IT 

Ultimately, the plenary realized that the opportunities and challenges of digitization in all processes and areas of business will trigger change. It was agreed that the internal tuning between legal, compliance, and IT plays a key role in the future viability of digital strategy and will play more and more.

 

Blockchain, eDiscovery, and the Law 

In the second half of the afternoon, the plenary session with Carmen de La Cruz, partner in De La Cruz Lawyers, first discussed the definition of blockchain. Using the example of smart contracts, the discussion centered around the various material questions of antitrust law and the whether the lawyer would soon be replaced by the robot.

 

Examples of the Blockchain include smart metering, ie intelligent electricity meters and their Blockchain-based billing metric, as well as the often cited Bitcoin, which presents blockchain in a cryptocurrency.

 

Questions and discussion of blockchain included:

 

  • - From the point of view of Philip Lux, partner of the antitrust boutique Euclid, the Blockchain could possibly revise the question of a vertical price retention
  • - How do smart contracts, ie contracts based on blockchain, develop and operate legally?
  • - The material questions of antitrust law and the consequences, in particular, of blockchain technology will be covered in the near future

 

All in all, it was a very successful event. The participants use the open forum for their questions and the discussion, especially with a focus on the individual experiences in companies dealing with the priorities of digitization.

Dominic Piernot

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