[co-author: Francesco Armaroli]
If you are looking forward to a future where you will be able to choose what the main character does next in a movie or TV series, that future has now arrived. In fact, some video on demand (VOD) platforms are pioneering a new form of immersive entertainment called “interactive entertainment”.
This is how it works in practice: viewers’ choices at specific points in time influence the narrative of the plot of what they are watching and lead to different personalized endings. From what music to play, to career decisions, from “killing” certain characters to travel destinations: viewers can choose everything.
All such interactions generate huge amounts of data processed through sophisticated technologies and analytics techniques for various purposes (targeted advertising, customer profiling, geo-location, parental blocks).
To achieve such purposes, broadcasters and VOD platforms need to comply with several pieces of law (privacy, audiovisual regulatory, minors’ protection, copyright enforcement: in this respect, see our general overview of the new EU Copyright Directive), some of which we will address in this post.
Italian regulators have been keen to intervene on smart devices and interactive entertainment from different perspectives and points of view during the past years.
The position of the Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) is that viewers’ tracking and the display of targeted advertising by means of smart devices shall be subject to applicable privacy rules. This is confirmed under the GDPR and is likely to be increased under the forthcoming ePrivacy Regulation, which will guarantee a specific protection to metadata processing and profiling.
Similarly, the Italian Communications Authority (Autorità per le garanzie nelle comunicazioni) pointed out that smart TVs’ connection to computer and broadband networks enhance relevant break-in risks, such as illegitimate access to personal data and the surreptitious activation of the camera and/or motion sensors of which some models are equipped.
That is why the Authority believes it is necessary to implement transparency policies with regard to manufacturers, as well as a constant tracking of the software pre-installed in smart devices, in order to increase the privacy and security of their users.
The interactions between the two independent authorities in this business sector is particularly tight. This is the reason why recently one of the Italian Communications Authority Commissioner (Mr. Antonio Nicita) even proposed to merge the two authorities, in order to avoid various potential overlaps of the relevant functions. Such merge, according to the Commissioner, may allow Italian authorities to exercise “a more effective “bargaining” power and moral suasion vis-à-vis OTTs and global digital platforms”.