What is a connected consumer?

Connected consumers use their connected devices to interact with each other and the environment in consuming products and services.  They might use smartphones, tablets, e-readers, portable navigation devices, media players and mobile gaming devices.

What is FRAND and FRAND-Z?

FRAND, also (in the USA) known as RAND, stands for Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms, being the terms upon which the owner of a patent over technology which has been declared to be essential for any device or system which complies with a particular technical standard (such as 3G or 4G in telecoms) must grant licences to anyone who uses the technology.  The concept is relevant to anyone who makes complex devices or systems which depend upon interoperability – so the connected car, the internet of things, smart devices of all kinds.  As to what precise terms will meet the FRAND requirement in a licence negotiation between any two specific parties, that remains the subject of intense debate.

FRAND-Z is a variant of FRAND introduced more recently by some standards-setting organisations.  It requires the holders of essential patents to offer FRAND terms at a zero royalty rate.

What is the internet of things?

The internet of things is a network of physical inanimate objects, or things, with the necessary sensors and software embedded within them to enable them to collect and exchange data with other devices via the internet.

What is an online platform?

The EU Commission’s definition:

Online platform refers to an undertaking operating in two (or multi)-sided markets, which uses the Internet to enable interactions between two or more distinct but interdependent groups of users so as to generate value for at least one of the groups. Certain platforms also qualify as Intermediary service providers.

This includes general internet search engines, specialised search tools, location-based business directories or some maps, news aggregators, online market places, audio-visual and music platforms, video sharing platforms, payment systems, social networks, app stores or collaborative economy platforms. Internet access providers fall outside the scope of this definition.


What is 3D printing?

3D printing, a popular name for the method more formally known as additive manufacturing (AM), is the practice of making a three-dimensional real-life object from a digital blueprint. The process computes a three-dimensional object into two-dimensional horizontal slices, which are then printed out layer by layer in order to replicate the share of the object.

Today virtually anything can be 3D printed, from industrial components, rocket engines, to prosthetic limbs and even human organs.  The technology has been incorporated into the production lines of (to take a few examples) Lego, Alpha Dog Headphones and NASA.  Now increasingly 3D printing is destined for the domestic as well as commercial sphere, though currently a home 3D printer costs around £1,000.

What is the Consumer Rights Act?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force in the UK on 1 October 2015. The Act replaces and consolidates three significant pieces of consumer legislation – The Sale of Goods Act 1979, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. It introduces some new rights relating to the purchase of goods and services, including digital content such as computer games and makes some key changes to pre-existing consumer law, particularly in relation to services and unfair terms. The Act also implies consumer-facing rights and remedies into contracts for digital content.

What is the Consumer Rights Directive?

The EU Consumer Rights Directive came into force on 13 June 2014.  The Directive aims to simplify and harmonise consumer legislation across the EU to increase certainty, consumer protection and confidence and to encourage cross-border trade.  Member States are required to transpose the Directive into local law.

Does the Consumer Rights Directive affect my business?

The EU Consumer Rights Directive mainly applies to the sale of goods, services and digital content via distance selling, door-to-door sales and off-premises sales (whether solicited or unsolicited). It does not however apply to all categories of goods/services (for example foodstuffs, gambling or financial services), nor aim to be all encompassing with regards to consumer protection.

What is omni channel marketing?

Consumers often engage in different stages of the buying process using multiple channels and devices, for example in-store, online via a desktop or a mobile website, using a retail app, the telephone, etc.  Omni channel marketing is marketing across a number of channels with the aim of providing a seamless shopping experience.

What is the sharing (or collaborative) economy?

The sharing economy involves using internet technologies to connect distributed groups of people and organisations to make better use of goods, skills, services, capital and spaces, sharing ‘access’ and so reducing the need for ‘ownership’.


What is crowd-funding?

Crowd-funding works on the premise that persons seeking funding (such as entrepreneurs) showcase projects or companies on an internet platform and members of the public provide funding through the platform.

There are three broad crowd-funding models, each distinguishable by the return for the funder.

  1. The donations and rewards models: individuals provide money to a company or project for benevolent reasons or for a non-monetary reward.
  2. The lending model: individuals lend money to a company or project in return for repayment of the loan and interest on their investment.
  3. The investment model: individuals make investments in return for a share in the profits or revenue generated by the company or project.

What is the Payments Services Directive (PSD2)?

The European Parliament has adopted a European Commission proposal for a revised Directive on Payment Services to replace the original Directive from 2007. It is expected to enter into force in December 2015 (after formal adoption and publication in the EU’s Official Journal), after which Member States will have two years to introduce the necessary changes in their national laws in order to comply with the new rules. The core objectives of the revised Directive are to enhance competition, encourage the Digital Single Market and reduce fraud through increased security and reduce fees.

What are interchange fees?

Interchange fees are fees charged between payment service providers on card-based payment transactions.  The cost is borne by the retailer which ultimately increases the cost for the consumer.  Competition between payment card schemes to convince payment service providers to issue their cards leads to higher rather than lower interchange fees.

What is the Regulation on interchange fees?

On 20 April 2015 the Council of the European Union formally adopted the Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions. The stated aim of the EU Council is to reduce costs for both retailers and consumers, to help create an EU-wide payments market and to help users make more informed choices about payment instruments. The interchange fee caps come into effect on 9 December 2015 and the majority of the business rules set out in the Regulation on 9 June 2016.

Digital entertainment

What is the Digital Single Market?

On 6 May 2015 the European Commission published its “Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe”. The Commission’s proposals are aimed at producing a true digital single market and are built around three “pillars”:

  1. Better access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe
  2. Creating the right conditions for digital networks and services to flourish
  3. Maximising the growth potential of the European Digital Economy

The Strategy paper says that the Commission’s DSM project team “will deliver on these different actions by the end of 2016”.

What is geo-blocking?

Geo-blocking is the restriction of online access or changing online content based on the geographical location of the user.

Digital health

What is disassociated data?

Personal data becomes dissociated data when the data subject’s identity is completely and irreversibly detached from the data obtained.

What is pseudonymisation?

Pseudonymisation is the replacement of an attribute for another in a data record.  It can be considered a useful security measure but not as an absolute anonymisation technique because it can easily allow the identification of the data subject.


What is eCall?

On 2 Mar 2015, the EU Council of Ministers approved eCall legislation, which states that all models newly type-approved need to be fitted with eCall technology to automatically send a minimum set of data to an emergency control room as of 31 Mar 2018.  All Member States are required to have the requisite infrastructure in place to handle such eCalls, but they remain free to decide how their emergency services are organised.  Member States will also have to ensure that all data transmitted via eCall is used exclusively for the objectives of eCall and that the processing of personal data fully complies with European legislation on data privacy.

The initiative is designed to save lives by allowing emergency services to respond more quickly to road traffic accidents.

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