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How the video games industry will benefit from the new UK-EU trade deal

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PRNewswire – TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, reviews the UK-EU trade deal against its eight priorities for the booming video games industry. Here is an analysis of what the entity has called for, since 2020, and what the UK and EU have agreed.

 Tariffs – The UK should negotiate a trade deal with the EU that avoids quotas, tariffs, and other barriers to trade.

The UK and EU have agreed to zero tariffs and zero quotas on trade between the UK and the EU, where those goods being traded meet the relevant rules of origin.  The EU does not currently impose tariffs on computer games produced outside of the EU. Accordingly, UK games developers that export content to consumers in the EU will continue to trade tariff free.

2.  Maintain and enhance Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) – VGTR is the most important factor in determining the favourability of the UK’s tax environment as far as the video games industry is concerned. VGTR therefore needs to be maintained and potentially enhanced in a new deal.

The UK and EU have agreed that each Party will have in place its own independent system of subsidy control and that neither Party is bound to follow the rules of the other. The UK is still free to maintain and enhance VGTR. However, the Agreement includes provisions which enable either Party to take ‘appropriate rebalancing measures’ if ‘material impacts on trade or investment between the Parties are arising as a result of significant divergencies between the Parties’ subsidy regimes.3

3.  Access to finance – Outside of the EU, the UK games industry will not be able to access schemes such as Creative Europe and the Horizon 2020 programmes. The UK Government should replace access to these schemes with alternative grant programmes such as a Video Games Investment Fund (VGIF).

The UK and EU have agreed to no measures which would prevent the creation of a Video Games Investment Fund. However, as outlined above, the treaty provides for ‘rebalancing measures’ if ‘material impacts’ to trade or investment are arising because of different subsidy regimes. On Horizon 2020, the UK Government has stated that it intends to participate in Horizon, with further detail coming in protocols published alongside the main Agreement.4

4.  Access to talent – TIGA research indicates that approximately 20 per cent of the games development workforce originates from other EU countries and 5 per cent come from other countries outside the EU. The UK Government should ensure that our post-Brexit migration system does not impair the ability of UK universities to recruit from the EU.

The UK and EU have agreed a range of measures affecting the movement of people between the EU and UK.  This includes an agreement to allow visa-free travel for most short-term visits (90 days in any 180-day period)5 and provisions which allow the UK to establish its own immigration system.  Free movement between the EU and UK ended on 31 December 2020.

5.  Permit the free flow of data between the UK and the EU – Games development requires the use of a large amount of personal and non-personal data and the free flow of this personal and non-personal data between the UK and EU is essential to games publishing and to the operation of online games platforms. It is therefore important that the free flow of data continues between the UK and the EU after exit day.

The UK and EU have agreed to Title III of the agreement, which aims to facilitate digital trade, to address unjustified barriers to trade enabled by electronic means and to ensure an open, secure, and trustworthy online environment for businesses and consumers. The Agreement helps to facilitate cross-border flow of data by prohibiting requirements to store or process data in a certain location.

The Agreement does not include a determination that the UK provides an adequate level of protection for personal data. However, it includes a provision to provide for the continued free flow of personal data from the EU and EEA EFTA States to the UK until adequacy decisions are adopted, and for ‘no longer than 6 months’.6 The UK has, on a transitional basis, deemed the EU and EEA EFTA States to be adequate to allow for data flows from the UK. Additionally, the EU and UK agreed to protect cross-border data flows to facilitate trade in the digital economy and recognise individuals right to protection of personal data.7

TIGA considers it important, for the UK video games industry, that an adequacy agreement on data protection is reached between the EU and UK. Given that the UK has enshrined EU GDPR standards in domestic law, the UK Government is confident that such an agreement can be reached. However, companies should prepare for the possibility that the 6-month data bridge collapses. To this end, the Information Commissioner’s Office recommends that businesses put in place a ‘standard contractual clause (SCC)’8. More information is available here.

6.  Protecting rights of games companies in relation to intellectual property – Overall, regulatory alignment with IP to the EU is generally advantageous for games companies because of the reduction in costs of complying with separate IP laws. However, as the Government has chosen to diverge (at least in part), the Government can take the opportunity to reform IP law to address imbalances and lack of certainty in the current system.

The UK and EU have agreed to commitments on registered IP rights such as patents, trademarks and designs, and unregistered rights such as copyright, trade secrets and unregistered designs. Under Title V of the EU/UK agreement, the parties agree to ‘facilitate the production, provision and commercialisation of innovative and creative products and services’9 and to ‘ensure an adequate and effective level of protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.’10  Furthermore, the UK Government highlights the regulatory flexibility, made available in the agreement, which should allow the UK to develop an intellectual property system in line with domestic priorities.

7.  State aid – It is crucially important for the games industry that future UK state aid policy permits the maintenance and potential enhancement of VGTR, the introduction of a VGIF, the continuation of schemes such as the UK Games Fund; the operation of Coronavirus inspired support measures such as the Bounce Back Loans scheme; and Government schemes to encourage investment in training.

The UK and EU have agreed to end the EU State Aid regime in Great Britain and allow for the introduction of the UK’s own subsidy system. The UK Government has stated that its future subsidy system will allow a new state aid regime to better support businesses to grow in the best interests of UK industries. However, the treaty provides for ‘rebalancing measures’ if ‘material impacts’ to trade or investment are arising because of different subsidy regimes.

8.  Labour, environment, and climate change standards – As set out in the revised Political Declaration, a UK – EU trade deal should maintain employment, environment, and climate change standards at the current levels

The UK and EU have agreed to reciprocal commitments not to reduce the level of worker protections or employment rights in a way that might have an effect on trade.  Similarly, the UK and EU have agreed commitments on not reducing the level of environmental or climate protections in a way that might impact trade.

Dr Richard Wilson OBE, CEO of TIGA, said:

“The video games sector is an export focused, high skill, high technology industry. The UK/EU trade deal avoids quotas, tariffs, and barriers to physical trade, whilst enabling the UK Government to maintain VGTR and introduce a VGIF. It is important that a 6-month transition period for the continued free flow of personal data has been agreed and it is vital that the European Commission’s adequacy assessment enables the free flow of data between the two jurisdictions beyond this point. The deal does not include specific measures allowing studios to recruit highly skilled people from the EU, leaving decisions on the future of immigration to the UK Government.

“The UK Government should proceed now to further strengthen the UK games industry by enhancing VGTR and creating a VGIF. The UK and the EU should work also together to build on this Agreement and establish a framework for favourable trade in services, which represent approximately 80 per cent of UK GDP11.

“Additionally, it is important that as the UK attempts to replace Erasmus +, with the Turing Scheme, it offers the same benefits to students in higher education. This should include opportunities to enable UK students to engage with different and new ideas, cultures and techniques.”

EuroNewsweek is a dynamic news platform featuring lifestyle, sustainability, successful stories, tech, leadership, creative marketing, business, and the unstoppable people behind them.

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What is the best internet security tip you have ever been given?

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Friend giving a digital tip to another friend

From those working from home over the past year, to companies and those sporadically using the internet to communicate with family and friends, no one has escaped avid hackers in recent years. They have been busier than ever. In fact, a recent report by Beaming, an independent Internet Service Provider for businesses across the UK, revealed that in the first three months of 2021 firms were hit by over 172,000 attacks. These findings are as scary as they sound. Every day companies are having to survive 1912 attacks – with one intrusion attempt being carried out every 45 seconds in the United Kingdom.

The interest in breaching the online security of people and companies isn’t a new idea. Commercial organizations have suffered an 11% increase in cyber-attacks during the first months of 2021, with higher educational institutions across the UK and Europe also being the target of an increasing number of cyber-attacks in recent months.

As we all need to use digital devices and the internet, be it connecting to clients and family, or simply paying a bill, we need to know the answer to the question: How can we avoid the increasing risk of using technology?

Here, entrepreneurs and security experts share the best internet security tip they’ve ever been given – and the answers can make a big difference for you, and your business, too.

 

Don’t reuse old passwords

“The best internet security tip someone ever gave me is: do not reuse old passwords! Usually, I try to update all my password info – so my accounts are secure. However, I often catch myself reusing an old password. If one of my accounts gets breached, chances are that a different account of mine with the same old password might get breached too. That’s why I never have the same password for two accounts!

Having this on my mind, I force myself to think of new and stronger passwords that will keep my accounts safer. Regularly updating my passwords and creating new ones is what helps to keep all my data safe and secure.
David Morneau – CEO at SEO marketing agency www.breeeze.co

 

Don’t only rely on free software

“It seems simple, but the best online security tip I’ve been given was from my father when I was in my teens. It has made a huge difference: do not rely on the built in Windows firewall that comes as standard.

Always download a free version of AVG or Norton – or pay a fairly cheap yearly cost. The amount of viruses, phishing attacks and malware that’ll be picked up by these (and not Windows) is staggering.”

Alan Monaghan – Founder of soundproofing tutorials website www.quietliving.co.uk

 

Avoid public WiFi for sensitive browsing

“The internet can be a haven for some, but it can also put others at risk if not used cautiously. As a founder, the best internet security tip I received is not using public WiFi when browsing websites that require personal information. You’ll never know; someone might be collecting your data from the public WiFi and use it without your knowledge.”

Chris Muktar – Founder at www.wikiJob.co.uk

Mobile phone with padlock

 

Always use two-factor authentication

“As a website founder, the internet can be a viable source of information. That being said, it can also put our information at risk. The best internet security tip I have received is using two-factor authentication. It gives extra protection to the person who owns the account because there is another step to confirm the individual logging in is the authorized person. It prevents the hacker from invading an account. Even if they know the username and password, this alerts the authorized person that there is an attempt to login, and they can act right away to protect their account.
April Maccario – Founder at relationship advice website www.askapril.com

 

Have more than one email

“Have more than one email. Specifically, to have an email that I can put out there in the open, which, if compromised, won’t be putting me at great risk. This email is, of course, different from the one I use for my bank transactions and the like.”
Ted Liu – Founder at SEO agency www.justseo.co.nz

 

Never use the same password for everything
“One of the best tips I can give is to not use the same password for every account. Also, be sure to include numbers and various symbols like an exclamation mark or an @ sign. While it may seem easier to remember your password by using a common word or phrase, it makes it much easier for a cyber attacker to figure out your password and steal your information. Passwords should also be updated regularly, and you should use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Then, even if a hacker does obtain your password, they likely won’t be able to get in without the second factor of authentication, like a pin being sent to your phone.
Cindy Murphy – President of Digital Forensics at cybersecurity firm www.tetradefense.com

 

Easy to remember, easier to be stolen

“One piece of advice that helped me a lot with internet security is to never use passwords that have some kind of meaning and are easy to remember. Instead, get used to using a password management software and create strong, hard to crack passwords.”
Mikkel Andreassen – Customer Experience Manager at customer service software firm www.dixa.com

 

 

 

 

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More European countries get Pinterest’ skin tone range feature

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Pinterest phone screen
Skin tone ranges is a Pinterest-exclusive feature that allows Pinners to refine their beauty-related searches based on a set of skin tone ranges

American image sharing and social media service Pinterest has announced the expansion of its skin tone range feature to several additional countries. Besides India, Indonesia, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, in Europe, additional countries include France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Netherlands.

Skin tone ranges is a Pinterest-exclusive feature that allows Pinners to refine their beauty-related searches based on a set of skin tone ranges. Applying this filter updates your search results to show content that is similar to the skin tone range you’ve selected.

One of the biggest digital platforms in the world, where millions of people search for fresh beauty ideas each month, Pinterest had more than 80 million users searching for beauty ideas over the past month, according to the digital platform launched in 20210.

Over the past year Pinterest has seen the number of people using the skin tone range feature to discover beauty ideas on the platform increase five-fold.

Tyi McCray, Pinterest Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity, says:

“Our mission is to inspire everyone to create a life they love. With that in mind, building a globally inclusive platform where you can see yourself represented is a top priority for us. We want all of our Pinners around the world to discover ideas that feel personalised, relevant and reflective of who they are. Expanding skin tone ranges to additional countries around the world will help to surface ideas that speak to everyone and drive positive change.”

Augmented reality – As we celebrate International Women’s Month, Pinterest continues to highlight its inclusive inspiration on the Today tab and on the home feed throughout March. The company ‘s focus on building inclusive products, includes integrating Try On, a tool using AR technology to enable users to see similar lip shades and eye shadow on skin tones that match their own.

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Virtual club night to take over London historic events venue during Easter 2021

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DJ rehearsing before event
Tobacco Dock has partnered with virtual live event platform Sansar

Award-winning events venue Tobacco Dock has partnered with virtual live event platform Sansar to turn the venue, a Grade I listed warehouse in East London, into the UK’s first hybrid clubbing space.

The idea is to help bridge the gap between in person and online events by creating an immersive virtual reality platform, Tobacco Dock Virtual, that will cater to a global audience.

“Live events and face-to-face experiences are vital for businesses and for London as a thriving business hub. However, by creating a virtual venue we offer the best of both worlds – in person and virtual – where online users can experience being at an event in real time by engaging with presentations, interacting with products, accessing content and networking with other attendees. While we wait to come together at live events in the next couple of months, Tobacco Dock Virtual acts as an alternative venue to help break the barriers between face-to-face and online meeting experiences. The next phase of events will see the physical and virtual running simultaneously and across a wide range of devices, meaning our venue is accessible to a truly global audience. As we’ve seen the business event landscape adapt and prepare to re-open in London, we believe Tobacco Dock Virtual will allow more individuals and businesses to engage in powerful, immersive experiences blurring the edges between the real life and the virtual.” – says Jonny Read, Commercial Director at Tobacco Dock London.

To kickstart the pioneering partnership, a diverse lineup including some of the biggest names in clubland, alongside exciting rising talent, has been announced for the Tobacco Dock Virtual opening weekend, which is free-to-attend across all platforms and devices. Taking place on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd April 2021, the two-day Easter Weekend features over 40 artists playing across four arenas at the immersive, virtual venue, including Swedish techno producer and DJ Adam Beyer, British DJs Wilkinson, Hot Since 82, Mollie Collins, Patrick Topping and Daniel Pearce – a.k.a Eats Everything – amongst other entertainers.

Available on mobile, MAC, tablet, PC, or VR through the Sansar app or any browser – without need for specialist equipment, not only do hybrid events allow for people to join virtually no matter their geographic location or timezone, but it also gives access to those who missed out on tickets or who may have been priced out economically. Those who may suffer from anxiety in public spaces will benefit from an outlet to enjoy clubbing, whilst remaining in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

Live-stream and media partner Beatport will also broadcast sets across Facebook, Youtube, Twitch and Beatport.com, replicating the social experience as closely as possible and enabling partygoers to meet and catch up with friends, throw shapes on the dancefloor and explore the venue together. Adding to the shared experience, a range of games and quests can also be enjoyed, including custom avatars, quests and challenges.

To find out more about hybrid events at Tobacco Dock and to get tickets, visit: www.tobaccodockvirtual.com

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