This Week's Techlaw Round-up

Online Safety Bill to return to Parliament, Data Protection (Adequacy) (Republic of Korea) Regulations 2022 made, HM Treasury consults on audio-visual tax reliefs, PSA publishes a general permission for SMS virtual chat services and more in this week’s round-up of UK and EU techlaw news developments not covered elsewhere on the SCL website.

UK law

Online Safety Bill to return to Parliament

The Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, has confirmed that the remaining stages of the Online Safety Bill will return to the House of Commons on 5 December 2022.

Data Protection (Adequacy) (Republic of Korea) Regulations 2022 made

The Data Protection (Adequacy) (Republic of Korea) Regulations 2022 SI 2022/1213 have been made. The Regulations specify the Republic of Korea as a country which provides an adequate level of protection of personal data for the purposes of Part 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR. This means that personal data can be transferred to natural or legal persons in the Republic of Korea who are subject to Korean data protection legislation (specifically the Personal Information Protection Act) without the need for any specific authorisation. After agreeing to a data adequacy agreement in principle in July 2022, the UK government has completed its full assessment of the Republic of Korea's personal data legislation. The government has concluded that the Republic of Korea has strong privacy laws in place which will protect data transfers to South Korea while upholding the rights and protections of UK citizens.

HM Treasury consults on audio visual tax reliefs

The audio-visual tax reliefs support, and provide incentives for, the production of culturally British film, animation, high-end TV, children's TV and video games. Much has changed since the introduction of the original film tax relief in 2007, and the creative industries are rapidly evolving, reflecting new cutting-edge technology and demands from the public for ever higher quality content. The government is seeking to build upon the success of the reliefs and go further to support the growth of the highly skilled and innovative audio-visual sectors. It is therefore consulting on new reforms. The package of reforms proposed in the consultation aims to simplify and modernise the reliefs and ensure they boost growth in the audio-visual sectors whilst remaining fiscally sustainable. The consultation ends on 9 February 2023.

PSA publishes a general permission for SMS virtual chat services

The Phone-paid Services Authority has published a general permission for SMS-based virtual chat services following consultation. The general permission allows such services to operate without strict adherence to Requirement 3.2.12 of the Code which requires receipts after every transaction. The permission takes immediate effect.

FCA concerned about problem behaviours linked to trading app design

The Financial Conduct Authority has warned stock trading app operators to review design features, including those with game-like elements, which risk prompting consumers to take actions against their own interest. Features include sending frequent notifications with the latest market news and providing consumers with in-app points, badges and celebratory messages for making trades. The FCA has found that consumers using apps with these kind of features were more likely to invest in products beyond their risk appetite. Alongside its warning to app-operators, the FCA has published research that raises concerns that customers using such trading apps are exposed to high-risk investments, and that some appear to exhibit behaviours similar to problem-gambling. Whilst gamification can be used to engage consumers positively, the FCA found it being used in ways that may mislead consumers or lead to poor outcomes and problem behaviours. The FCA intends to do further research intro trading app use and design features, to understand some wider financial vulnerabilities for users of these apps, such as whether they borrow to invest and the scale of any losses. The FCAs 2022 Financial Lives Survey found 9% of all adults with investments have borrowed to invest and 49% of these would not have been able to make the investment without doing so. To ensure customers are being treated fairly and ahead of the new Consumer Duty coming into force next year, all firms should be reviewing their products now to ensure they are fit for purpose. The Consumer Duty stipulates that firms must design services so that consumers can make effective, timely and properly informed decisions about financial products and services.

EU law

European Parliament approves common charger for mobile devices

European Parliament's approval of the Common Charging Directive, EU consumers will soon be able to use a single charging solution for their electronic devices. By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops. Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port. All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger. Council will have to formally approve the Directive before it is published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days publication. Member states will then have 12 months to transpose the rules and 12 months after the transposition period ends to apply them. The new rules will not apply to products placed on the market before the date of application.

EU Code of Conduct against online hate speech: latest evaluation shows slowdown in progress

The European Commission has released the results of its seventh evaluation of the Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online. It says that there has been a decrease in companies' notice-and-action results: the number of notifications reviewed by the companies within 24 hours dropped compared with the last two monitoring exercises, from 90.4% in 2020, to 81% in 2021, and 64.4% in 2022. TikTok is the only company that improved its time of assessment. The removal rate, at 63.6%, is also considerably lower than at its peak in 2020 (71%). Only YouTube performed better on this parameter than in the last two years. However, there has been improvement in the companies' frequency and quality of feedback to users, something which the Commission had been calling on companies to improve in the 2021 report. The Commission will discuss with how to ensure that the implementation of the Code supports compliance with the Digital Services Act and adds value in the specific areas of tackling hate speech and protecting freedom of expression online. This process may lead to a revision of the Code of Conduct in the course of 2023.

Published: 2022-11-25T10:37:00

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