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Did China hack the MoD?

Plus: Why is SoftBank investing in UK driverless cars.

Ludo Lugnani profile image
by Ludo Lugnani
Did China hack the MoD?

Hi this is ZipLaw - your commercial awareness barista.

Here’s what we’re serving today:

  • 🚗 SoftBank's Big Bet on UK AI
  • 💻 Did China hack the MoD?
  • 🏠 What's going on with House Prices?

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News in Brief

  • 📱 Cancel the ban: TikTok is suing the U.S. government, claiming a new law requiring the app's divestment from ByteDance or facing a U.S. ban is unconstitutional. TikTok argues that the ban is unprecedented and impractical.
  • 🌐 Rafah Crossing Control: Israel's army took control of Gaza's Rafah border crossing, hinting at a ground offensive. Ceasefire talks continue after Netanyahu criticized Hamas's proposal for not meeting Israel's demands.
  • 📰 Xi vs NATO: Xi Jinping criticized NATO's 1999 Belgrade bombing, calling it a tragic bond between China and Serbia. Macron urged Xi to prevent a new Cold War.
  • 💼 Finally profit: UBS earned $1.8 billion in Q1, largely from its wealth management sector, exceeding expectations following the Credit Suisse acquisition.
  • 🐗 Boar Hunt: Italy will use the army to cull wild boar, aiming to curb African swine fever's spread and protect the prosciutto industry after 34,000 pigs were culled last year.

SoftBank's Big Bet driverless cars

In Short: SoftBank leads a groundbreaking $1bn investment in UK-based AI startup Wayve, marking a significant move in Europe's tech scene and reinforcing the UK's ambitions as a leader in AI innovation.

Wayve claims 'world first' in driving a car autonomously ...
Wayve claims ‘world first’ in driving a car autonomously with only its AI and a SatNav in 2019

What’s going on?

SoftBank, along with tech titans like Nvidia and Microsoft, is pouring over a billion dollars into Wayve, a London startup steering the future of self-driving cars.

But Wayve isn’t just another company in the autonomous vehicle race; it’s flipping the script on how these vehicles learn. Ditching the expensive maps and fancy sensors, Wayve’s AI prefers the school of hard knocks, learning on the fly as it navigates the gritty, unpredictable streets.

Why should you care?

Two main reasons:

  • Boost for the UK: This investment has geopolitical undertones, securing the UK a front-row seat in the next era of computing—an area where it previously seemed to have lost the ticket. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took the opportunity to call the UK an “AI superpower”.
  • Investment activity: SoftBank’s hefty checkbook shows it’s back with a vengeance in the AI game, a sector where it had previously tiptoed. This could light a fire under AI innovations across Europe, potentially setting off a chain reaction of tech breakthroughs that affect everything from how we drive to how we avoid talking to people by sending robots in our place.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The self-driving industry has had its share of "oops" moments (including tough fights against traffic cones) and the effectiveness of AI learning through trial and error is still up for debate. Nonetheless it's a big step up in terms of tech investment activity for the UK.

Self driving cars Are just little trains - Philosoraptor Meme Generator

⚖️ How does this impact Law Firms?

Intellectual Property (IP) Law:

  • Patent Strategy and Protection: Lawyers will work with Wayve and its partners to develop robust patent strategies to protect the unique AI algorithms and machine learning technologies that underpin their self-driving systems. This involves drafting and filing patents, managing IP portfolios, and advising on patent infringement risks. Clients, particularly those in the fast-evolving tech sector, will rely on legal expertise to safeguard their innovations from competitive threats and to navigate the complex landscape of global IP rights.
  • Licensing Agreements: Legal professionals will draft and negotiate licensing agreements on behalf of Wayve or its tech partners like Nvidia and Microsoft. These agreements will be crucial for monetising their IP while ensuring compliance with UK and international IP laws. Lawyers will help clients manage the risks associated with IP sharing and tech transfer, ensuring that their proprietary technologies are used appropriately without compromising their competitive advantage.

Corporate and Venture Capital Law:

  • Investment and Funding Agreements: Lawyers will facilitate the drafting, review, and negotiation of the terms of investment led by SoftBank and involving other major investors. This includes ensuring that the financial arrangements such as share allocations, dilution provisions, and exit strategies are in line with the clients' strategic objectives. The goal will be to protect the interests of both the startup and the investors, considering the significant amounts of money at stake.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Advisory: As the autonomous technology sector grows, Wayve or its competitors might look towards strategic mergers or acquisitions to enhance their market position. Lawyers will conduct due diligence, structure deals, and negotiate terms that align with corporate strategies. They will advise on all aspects of the transactions to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and to facilitate smooth integrations.

Technology and Data Privacy Law:

  • Compliance with Data Protection Regulations: Lawyers will ensure that Wayve’s AI-driven data collection and processing activities comply with the UK’s Data Protection Act and the GDPR. This includes assessing the legality of data handling procedures and advising on the implementation of robust data protection measures to safeguard user information. Legal guidance will be crucial for Wayve to navigate the complexities of data laws, especially given the sensitivity of data in autonomous vehicles.
  • Data Breach Response and Litigation: In the event of a data breach, lawyers will provide immediate legal response services to mitigate any legal and reputational damage. This includes advising on breach notification obligations and representing Wayve in any subsequent litigation or regulatory investigations. Clients will depend on their legal teams to manage the aftermath of breaches effectively, ensuring that their operations can continue with minimal disruption and legal fallout.

Did China hack the MoD?

You might have seen a notification pop-up on your phone last night saying China may have hacked the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

UK MOD contractor breach exposes military personnel bank details - Cyber  Daily

The details are murky. At the time of writing we know the hack involved nearly 270,000 payroll records from Britain’s armed forces, and in some cases, their addresses and National Insurance numbers joined the party too.

Once the breach was sniffed out, the MoD hit the big red button, taking the system offline.

I point out this story because:

  • it is a big hack involving a major government unit
  • it highlights a growing trend in cybersecurity risks

I would use this case to highlight how law firms can assist (particularly if you are applying to a firm with cybersecurity expertise).

So how would this impact Law Firms?

  • Incident Response and Notification Procedures: Lawyers specialising in cybersecurity will be instrumental in drafting and reviewing incident response plans for organisations, ensuring they are robust and comply with the UK's Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. They will guide clients, which can include government bodies, contractors, and businesses in sensitive sectors, through the mandatory data breach notification process to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). This service is critical to help clients manage legal risks associated with data breaches and maintain trust with stakeholders.
  • Contractual Advice and Liability Assessments: Legal experts will be needed to revise contracts with third-party vendors and contractors, particularly focusing on clauses related to data security, breach notification, and indemnities. Law firms will assist clients in assessing and renegotiating the allocation of liability in contracts to protect against future cybersecurity risks. These lawyers will work with a range of clients, from technology providers to public sector bodies, all of whom are seeking to mitigate the risks highlighted by the breach.

📊 Chart Watching

What's going on with House Prices?

House prices gained just 0.1% after a 0.9% drop in March. I know what you're thinking, a whole 0.1% change! Holy moly Ludo, calm down with them big numbers.

I know, it may not sound like a lot but in the real estate world every change matters and can tell us a lot about what's going on in the market. In this case:

  1. Market Stabilization Amidst Mortgage Rate Hikes: UK house prices saw minimal growth of 0.1% in April, highlighting market stabilization amid rising mortgage rates, with affordability challenges impacting new buyers and those with expiring fixed-rate deals.
  2. Regional Disparities: Halifax identified a "North-South" divide in annual house price changes, with London remaining largely flat while the North West and Northern Ireland saw gains of over 3%.
  3. Policy and Election Impact: Higher borrowing costs and rising house prices are intensifying challenges for renters and will likely play a role in the upcoming general election, as mortgage rates rise due to delayed interest rate cuts by the Bank of England.

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by Ludo Lugnani

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