The week in Connected Asia
Dec11

The week in Connected Asia

Here is a quick round-up of stories from a busy week in Connected Asia. 1. China has the highest number of fast-growing tech companies. With 128 companies ranked in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 Asia-Pacific, China has emerged as the country with the highest number of fast-growing tech companies. China Communications Media Group, which is one of the largest mobile software platforms in China, was the fastest growing of them all. It has grown revenues by a staggering 266 times over the last three years. Taiwan, Australia and India were the other “stand-out” performers, although the tech sector across the region appears to be in fairly good health, despite the slowdown in China and sluggish economic growth in other parts of the world. 2. Amazon is said to be testing a cash-on-delivery business model in India. The Amazon drones made the headlines but the reported move by Amazon to test a “cash-on-delivery” model is one to watch in the e-commerce space in Asia. Consumers in India, particularly in more rural areas, are notoriously reluctant to make up-front payments via e-commerce platforms and this is a major challenge. Cash-on-delivery is far from a perfect solution though, for logistical, financial and legal reasons. First, it raises logistical issues (not least in collecting cash and dealing with rejected goods) that will need to be addressed by Amazon’s local delivery partner, India Post. Second, cash-on-delivery locks up working capital and exposes merchants to the obvious risk of “time-wasting” purchases that are ultimately rejected (although that risk does still exist to some extent with “cooling-off” periods in an up-front payment model). The shortcomings of the cash-on-delivery model are acknowledged but the hope is that it will build trust in e-commerce and that eventually consumers will move towards up-front payments. The fact that ever-innovative Amazon seems to be looking at the model suggests that it could be a long time before up-front replaces on-delivery in India. 3. Singapore’s “Do Not Call” register opens for business. The Asian data shake-up continues apace. On Sunday, Singapore’s new data regulator, the Personal Data Protection Commission, announced the opening of the “Do Not Call” registry. The “Do Not Call” rules under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act, which come into effect in January 2014, require businesses to verify with the registry that numbers are not listed there before engaging in direct marketing activities (voice calls, text or fax messages). Around 67,000 unique telephone numbers had been listed on the registry within 24 hours. From January, “Do Not Call” will be a new compliance burden for organisations to address. The remaining rules of Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act (which impose obligations when it comes to the collection and...

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What is “The Law of the App” and how do you comply with it?
Nov23

What is “The Law of the App” and how do you comply with it?

Gaming operators have for years now been grappling with the full spectrum of legal requirements that apply to their online operations. Reputable online operators have, therefore, already developed a great degree of familiarity with issues like data protection, consumer law, advertising law and of course gambling regulation and the way in which these impact their online operations. However, with more and more operators now launching mobile gaming products (whether native device apps, web-based apps or mobile websites) and with a host of recent developments in this space, from new app store rules through to regulatory investigations, gaming lawyers are increasingly being asked an important question: what specific legal issues apply to mobile gaming products that might not necessarily apply to existing website-based offerings? In other words, is there such a thing as “The Law of the App” and, if so, what steps must operators take to comply with it? Understanding “The Law of the Platform” Such is the dominance of a limited number of mobile app platforms like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android that their rules have become essential reading for any organisation with a mobile strategy. Effectively enacted via contract law through platform terms and conditions, “The Law of the Platform” can nonetheless have an even greater impact on operators’ products than the overriding legal framework of statute, case law and regulation. Changes to the Apple or Android terms can happen very quickly (and without the political, consultation or legislative processes preceding new laws or regulations). At their most extreme, they can create entirely new opportunities for operators or they can close off valuable revenue streams entirely. In practice, the key terms that organisations need to focus on are the developer or SDK terms (the terms that much be accepted in order to build an app for the platform in question), approval policies for the app (relevant to Apple’s iOS and others, less so to Android) and the app store terms governing how the app is marketed and sold and how in-app purchases work. These terms are generally available via the platform developer websites, although in some cases the applicable terms can be harder to obtain (for example, a developer account and login may be required for certain Apple terms), in which case lawyers may need to work with developers to get hold of them. Apple iOS and Android are currently the two dominant platforms and both have recently updated their platform rules specifically in relation to gaming apps. In August 2013, Apple updated its App Store Guidelines. The rules require that apps offering real-money gaming must have the necessary licences and permissions in the locations in which...

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Economic ambitions drive Asian data shake-up
Aug24

Economic ambitions drive Asian data shake-up

Data protection has been something of a focus for Asian law-makers recently. Until the last couple of years, there were very few laws or regulations in the region which addressed the issue specifically. This is not to say that there were no laws to protect privacy but, rather, that they tended to come from a number of older statutes or case law, and were in many cases no longer appropriate for countries competing on a global scale in the face of technological advances. That is changing. Driven by economic and commercial ambitions (and not just by protection of consumers), legislators across the region have recognised the need to bring their data protection regimes more in line with international standards. The ASEAN region in particular has become the most active in the world for new data legislation. As a result, organisations based in Asia or that have online platforms targeted at or hosted in Asia are having to wrestle with the new rules. So what does this all mean for businesses? We look here at the three most recent new laws in the region, in the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, and the practical steps that businesses will need to take to comply. Some context: economic ambitions as a driver for data policy in Asia Having in place a consolidated data protection law has some clear advantages. There is the obvious benefit to consumers, who will now be subject to a privacy framework that is more in line with that enjoyed by citizens elsewhere, such as in Europe. However, economic ambitions are the key driver. In order to compete on an international scale, countries in the region need to be able to demonstrate that they are “safe” places to do business and that the requirements they impose on organisations are in line with international standards. In order to get themselves on any “white-list” of adequate jurisdictions for data processing, governments have recognised the need to have legislation in place. At a business-to-business level, businesses wanting to source suppliers (e.g. customer call centre providers) or to locate operations in the region (e.g. data centres) need to know that data will be held and processed securely, to the standards that their customers (and their own regulators) expect. The Business Processing Association of the Philippines believes that the legislation will raise the country’s profile as a destination for IT outsourcing projects that involve the handling of sensitive personal data, describing the legislation as “an important step to increasing confidence among foreign investors”. In Singapore, the government’s ambition was to “strengthen and entrench Singapore’s position as a trusted hub for business”. The Philippines: “keystone legislation”...

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