Monday, 16 May 2016

Navigating SA’s Complex TMT Regulatory Tapestry

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Webber Wentzel launches Technology, Media and Telecommunications Sector App on Legal and Regulatory Developments

The Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) sector is leading the charge into the brave unknown of the fourth industrial revolution, fundamentally changing every aspect of business.  Many companies find themselves operating in an environment that is complex and unchartered. 

“A myriad of regulatory developments are imminent that not only impact the TMT sector directly, but also businesses that use or rely on technology as an enabler,” says Robby Coelho, a partner at Webber Wentzel and head of its TMT Sector.  “Much of it is causing businesses to reassess their business models - for threats and opportunities -while having to navigate the increasing regulatory burdens creating threats to existing business models.”

Draft and imminent legal developments are on the cards that will have a profound effect on the TMT sector, such as:

  • data protection laws;
  • changes to intellectual property laws;
  • proposed cybercrimes legislation;
  • new government proposals regarding ICT policy and regulation;
  • new BEE Sector Codes;
  • legislation and rules regulating online content and the Internet;
  • legislation regarding the protection of State information; and
  • far-reaching Regulations being issued by ICASA.

Notwithstanding all these developments, the fast-paced nature of the TMT Sector often means that South Africa’s laws cannot keep up with this pace of developments, requiring companies to operate in an environment of regulatory uncertainty where traditional laws  do not anticipate innovation. "A prime example is the rise of disruptive business models and the on-demand economy which are re-inventing traditional models of delivering a product or service,  resulting in opportunities for agile start-ups while posing a threat to incumbent operators who fail to adjust quickly enough,” says Coelho.

Amidst all these challenges and opportunities, there is a growing need for players in the TMT sector to have access to legal information and updates in an instant. In responding to this, Webber Wentzel has launched a first-of-its-kind TMT App that will allow its clients and stakeholders in the industry to access vital legal information quickly and stay on top of the latest legal news and emerging issues, regardless of where they are or what device they are using. Another key feature is its ability to update clients with newsflashes and Twitter feeds, thereby maintaining constant communication.

“By immersing ourselves in the TMT sector’s immediate needs, and advising the industry for many years, we came to understand the immense difficulty the industry faces in keeping a finger on the pulse from a legal and regulatory point of view.  With that in mind, Webber Wentzel commissioned LexisNexis with the directive to develop an application that is aimed at keeping our clients fully informed of legal developments in the sector,” Coelho explains.

The Webber Wentzel TMT App is available for free download via the Apple App Store or Google Play store. It features relevant legislation and case law in addition to content supplied by Webber Wentzel such as articles, presentations, seminar notes and case summaries. It provides useful links to websites and documents and also enables users to ‘Ask a Question’ – a feature that will generate an automatic email to an expert in that practice area.  Users are also able to contact Webber Wentzel experts via the app.

“Being informed, ensures that you are one step ahead in an industry that is constantly changing,” says Coelho.  “Our Webber Wentzel TMT app aims to do just that by offering the South African technology, media and telecommunications sector a library of legal information that is current, relevant and in real time.  This app is another important tool that will enable our clients to continue to innovate and maximise opportunities available to them,” concludes Coelho.

To find out more about the Webber Wentzel TMT App:

Android:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=webberTMT.Droid&hl=en

Apple:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/webber-wentzel-tmt-app/id1093739408?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4