Featured Article: How To Stay Safe This Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner here are some suggestions for how you and your loved ones can stay safe online over this festive period and beyond.

The Shift Online

The pandemic has prompted a huge shift online this year for work and now, with the second wave in full flight, for online shopping.  Back in June, an Alvarez & Marsal and Retail Economics survey showed that 17.2 million British consumers (25 per cent of the population) were planning to make permanent changes to the way they shop i.e., by shopping more online.  This Christmas, this trend is now becoming a reality as online sales surge as well as an extra forecast surge of online purchases on Christmas Day as soon as retailers lower prices on Christmas Eve.

It is no surprise therefore that the Christmas spending period of November and December is a favourite time of year of fraudsters, many of whom may already have cashed in with COVID-19 scams earlier in the year e.g., fake investment, test and trace, PayPal email and vaccine scams.

With all these potential threats around, here are some suggestions for how you and your loved ones can stay safe.

General Tips

Before going online shopping, make sure that you have:

– An updated, latest version of your operating system.

– An updated version of anti-virus software.

Online Shopping Tips

– Be wary of links to offers in emails as these could re-direct to phishing pages. Similarly, beware of unexpected emails, texts or posts suggesting clicking on a link or attachment, or potentially fake parcel firm delivery messages which may contain harmful attachments.

– Beware of any phone calls/voicemails/SMS messages purporting to be from banks or well-known retailers regarding purchases or requesting personal details/confirmation of account details.

– Research retailers online that you are unfamiliar with and take extra time to browse the website to make sure that it appears legitimate and trustworthy.

– Check that payment pages have HTTPS at the beginning, there is a closed padlock in the address bar, and that everything looks right.

– If setting passwords as part of an online account/purchase process, use a strong password that you haven’t used elsewhere, use 2-step verification, and consider using a reputable password manager e.g., LastPass.

– Consider paying by credit card as this offers more protection, even from fraud, and (unlike a debit card) doesn’t give any details related to your bank account. As a secure intermediary, PayPal is also a secure way to pay that doesn’t give card numbers that can be stolen and used elsewhere.

– Log out of your account after paying on a website as simply closing the page may not do so.

– If giving event/holiday tickets for next year as a gift, make sure that you are buying from official online outlets such as box offices, sports clubs, reputable fan ticket exchange sites, and travel agents/tour operators with an ABTA/ATOL number and checkable information and independent reviews.

– Check to ensure that you are not purchasing fake/counterfeit goods online e.g., via an unfamiliar eBay store, as these could pose risks to health and home.

– Only download any new apps from official, legitimate sources e.g., Apple’s App Store, Google Play, or Microsoft Store.

Devices and Gadgets

Many (smart) gadgets and devices and IoT items are given as gifts at Christmas.  These could include fitness watches, toys, and household as well as computer devices. Some of the ways you can minimise security risks include:

– Changing any default password on new gadgets/devices to your own, individual, more secure password (that you haven’t used anywhere else).  This is because many smart gadgets and devices come with the same default password that may already be known to cybercriminals or may a simple password that is easy to crack.

– Make sure that any new phones, tablets, and computers are protected by a security app/software and a PIN or passcode as soon as they are switched on.

Children

Christmas is a particularly special time of year for children, many of whom will either receive a tech gift or will be using technology for entertainment and communications, and who may be out of sight for longer periods of time while the adults are involved in other Christmas activities. Ways to help keep children safe and happy online and when using gadgets and tech games over Christmas include:

– Setting up parental controls on Wi-Fi and making sure that inappropriate or adult content is blocked and time limits for usage are set.  See https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/broadband-mobile/.

– Setting agreed boundaries and ground rules in advance e.g., for screen time, number of games, and to ensure that any phones or tablets stay out of the bedroom overnight to charge.

– If children receive games for Christmas, play the game with them to be more aware of the benefits and the risks.

– Ask for access to any games and apps that children are on and ask them to allow you access to the phone.

– If online games appear to use Adobe Flash, consider disabling it because there are now several security concerns about it.

– If you have purchased a console, smartphone, or tablet for Christmas for your child, make sure that it is set up with the right control settings, and is charged and ready to use before you wrap it up. 

– Make sure that you have seen and dealt with any settings for e.g., online searching or “in-app” purchases.

Parents can find more helpful advice about apps, games (TikTok, Roblox) social media and more from Netaware https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ or Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/.

Happy Christmas

You may already be using many of these suggestions and a good helping of common sense as part of your online routines. In order to make sure that you have a happy Christmas in the online world, therefore, the message is to be prepared and always check and take a minute before clicking.

IR35 Tax Status Checker Tool Problems For 20 Per Cent of Users

Doubt has again been cast on the effectiveness of HMRC’s IR35 tax status checker tool after news that it failed to provide a response in nearly 20 per cent of cases.

IR35

The IR35 tax reform legislation that is designed to stop tax avoidance from ‘disguised employment’, which occurs when self-employed contractors set up their own limited company to pay themselves through dividends (which are not subject to National Insurance), and through deliberate misclassification of themselves.  From April next year, medium-to-larger private sector organisations will be made responsible for determining whether their non-permanent contractors and freelancers should be taxed in the same way as permanent employees (inside IR35) or as off-payroll workers (outside IR35), based upon the work they do and how it is performed. The responsibility for determining whether contactors are inside or outside of the legislation currently lies with the contractors themselves.

The legislation changes next year will mean that the tax liability will be transferred from the contractor to the company that directly engages the contractor.

CEST – The Tax Status Checker Tool

The Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) service was introduced by HMRC in 2017 to help employers, hirers, and workers to determine the employment status of workers and to ensure the correct tax and national insurance is paid for the work being done.

In 2019 HMRC tried to enhance the online CEST tool to improve the service.  The online tool, available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax asks the user a series of multiple-choice, checkbox-answer questions and delivers a decision based on the answers given about whether the off-payroll working rules (IR35) apply to a contractor (inside or outside the IR35 legislation) or if some work needs to be classed as employment or self-employment for tax purposes.

Inconclusive

HMRC figures show that tool was used 975,416 times during the 12 months to 24 November 2020 to determine the IR35 tax status of contractors but, in 19 per cent of cases (188,719), the tool was unable to return a conclusive response.

Problems Back In 2018

The CERT tax tool had similar problems back in August 2018 when it was found to be getting the wrong result in almost half of cases.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

If HRMRC itself cannot reliably use its own tax calculation tool to give an answer to users in 20 per cent of cases,  =many people will feel very frustrated at its apparent unreliability and if the official tool cannot help, what chance would many contractors have themselves of working it out by having to study complicated tax rules and regulations? This news comes at a bad time for already hard-hit medium-to-larger private sector organisations that will soon have the responsibility for correctly determining the tax status of contractors shifted onto them, and who may need help (such as using the CERT tool) in doing this. HMRC, however, does advise those who are not able to get a decision via the tool to contact them for help, but it is important for contractors to know where they are as soon as possible as regards their tax status to avoid potentially facing a large tax liability due to wrong decisions or delays caused by indecision or inconclusive results.

Hyundai Buying Robot Company

South Korean car manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Group, has agreed to buy a controlling stake in robot maker Boston Dynamics.

Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics, which is currently owned by Tokyo-based multinational conglomerate holding company Softbank Group Corp., is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company was sold to Google in 2013 and then to SoftBank in 2017. Boston Dynamics describes itself as “a world leader in mobile robots” and is famous for making robots with legs that give them mobility and dexterity.

The Deal

The new deal will see the Hyundai Motor Group and its chief take a combined 80 per cent stake in Boston Dynamics, while Softbank will retain only 20 per cent. The split on the Hyundai side will be 60 per cent to Hyundai Motor and its affiliates Hyundai Mobis, and Hyundai Glovis, and 20 per cent to its chairman, Euisun Chung.

Why Buy?

Hyundai Motor Group and its chairman are purchasing a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics because they want to:

– Gain an advantage over competitors in an innovation race among car companies.  For example, Ford Motor partnered with walking robot maker Agility Robotics last year (as well as leasing two ‘spot’ robots from Robot Dynamics last summer).

– Leverage robot technology to expand automation at its unionised vehicle factories and to help it to improve its design of new products like autonomous vehicles, self-driving cars, drones, and delivery robots.

– Combat the threats by other tech-based players in the market such as Tesla and tech firms with ridesharing, self-driving, and other technologies. For example, Hyundai recently partnered with Uber on an electric air taxi development project.

– Make the transition and to re-position itself from a manufacturer to a broader mobility service provider as this is perceived to be the future for traditional vehicle manufacturers.

Challenge

Although some commentators see the turning around of Boston Dynamics from being a loss-making company ($103 million net loss for the year ending March 2020) to being commercially successful as a big potential challenge for Hyundai, others see buying into a robot company as more of a way to showcase what Hyundai is capable of doing.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Traditional car manufacturers are having to broaden their vision of what they are and what they can produce in order to leverage new technologies and fight off competition by news types of entrants to the mobility market. Although electric is a common thread for all going forward, there are now many opportunities for tech and other companies to become part of the future of mobility and transport as the world tries to use and combine different technologies to leave the negative aspects of fossil fuels and traditional congested and underperforming transport routes and systems behind.

Google’s DeepMind AI Makes Dramatic Breakthrough

Google’s DeepMind AI machine learning program has solved a genetic protein challenge, the result of will dramatically change biology and could bring many medical benefits.

The Challenge

Proteins are the building blocks of cells and, for more than half a century, scientists have been trying to find a way to accurately predict the 3D shape and the folds of protein structures from their amino-acid sequence.  This is because a protein’s function is intricately linked with its shape and, therefore, the ability to predict a protein’s structure is the key to the understanding of what it does and how it works. This area of study is called Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction (CASP).

Why?

Being able to do so will mean that the function of the thousands of ‘unsolved’ proteins in the human genome can be identified and disease-causing gene variations that differ between people can be better understood.  This could make it much faster for humans to develop medicines and treatments for more conditions, could have a huge impact on life sciences, and make it possible to study living things in new ways.

DeepMind AI

Google’s machine learning, AI network offshoot ‘DeepMind’ used a program called AlphaFold to beat 100 other teams trying to solve the same problem. The AlphaFold system achieved a median score of 92.4 GDT overall across all targets meaning that its predictions have an average error of only 1.6 Angstroms (the width of an atom).  The system was ‘trained’ using publicly available data consisting of around 170,000 protein structures from the protein data bank as well as large databases containing protein sequences of unknown structure.

The methods that have been closest to solving this long-running scientific challenge in recent years have been advanced X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) but DeepMind’s AlphaFold program produced results that took leading scientists in the field by surprise and were far ahead of those results by the nearest competing teams.

GameChanger

Andrei Lupas of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, who has been working on this same challenge for a decade, said: “This will change medicine. It will change research. It will change bioengineering. It will change everything”.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is a huge success for Google and its DeepMind project and shows how concentrated power of AI can dramatically speed up the solving of problems that have eluded scientists for decades.  Not only is this a validation of Google’s AI efforts but also opens up opportunities for medical research and pharmaceutical companies, and could bring benefits to humanity in terms of being able to develop treatments for conditions that have offered little hope up until now. The pandemic has taught the world a powerful lesson in the importance of being able to develop fast ways of understanding new diseases and developing effective treatments and this is one area that DeepMind’s discovery could make a very positive contribution towards.

Tech Tip – Faster Startup

If your computer’s getting a little slow and you would like to save time by having a faster computer startup with Windows 10 by trimming down the number of programs that try to load on startup, here’s how:

– Go to Settings > Apps > Startup.

– Look at the list of programs, whether they’re enabled, and what impact each has on your startup time.

– Select the ‘off’ toggle position for those programs that you don’t need to load every time you start your computer e.g., the programs you don’t use often.

Featured Article – Technology: Post-Brexit

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, we take a brief look at what is known about how technology and the technology sector may be affected in a few key areas.

Predictions and Warnings

Since the June referendum vote of 2016 led to Brexit, there have been many predictions about what this would actually mean for technology. The pandemic, and the need for businesses to adapt quickly to survive put many thoughts of Brexit on the back burner.  With many businesses now getting used to ways of working around restrictions (home working), mass vaccination on the horizon, and leaving the EU less than two months away, we pick up on a few Brexit predictions and warnings and look at some of the tech areas that businesses are beginning to think seriously about again as the deadline looms.

Data

For example, back in January, the director of strategic policy at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Jonathan Bamford, urged businesses to prepare for a no-deal Brexit in terms of planning to stop interruption in data flows from Europe due to the fact that three-quarters of the UK’s cross border data flows are with EU countries. This was a reference to the fact that the UK will become a ‘third country’ because it falls outside of the GDPR zone (EU member states plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) and GDPR restricts transfers of personal data to third countries. The UK, therefore, still needs ‘adequacy agreement’ from the EU, showing that it considers the UK as a ‘third country’ to still provide a level of protection which is equivalent to that of the EU.  This would allow data to flow into and out of the EU without the need for other safeguards. If there is a no-deal Brexit and is there is no adequacy decision in place for some time, businesses and institutions may find themselves having to use alternative legal mechanisms that could be bureaucratic, costly, and could cause delays. 

Organisations that receive data from Europe and that use cloud services based within the EU may need to think about what risks and disruption they could face if no adequacy agreement is in place, and what other mechanisms and agreements they may need to seek.  This could include:

– Finding out where company data is stored and who has access to it.

– Perhaps renegotiating data services supplier contracts.

– Global organisations operating in multiple jurisdictions may need to look at how data is transferred within their organisation and whether corporate rules need to be changed.

– Organisations may need to look at where their riskiest and/or more important data transfers are, and plan to get Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) implemented i.e. contractual forms approved by the EU Commission as offering adequate protection for the personal data of individuals.

– Some of the other best measures that UK small businesses that send and receive data to and from Europe can currently take are to make sure that they really do comply with GDPR, and to review privacy information and documentation to identify any minor changes that need to be made at the end of the transit.  More information can be found form the ICO website here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/

People and Skills

The UK has suffered from a tech skills shortage for many years and the Brexit result led to fears that skilled tech workers, many of whom may have come from overseas, may decide to leave, and that employers would find it difficult to attract new skills compared to other countries e.g. the U.S.  Back in January, for example, a TopCV report found that 16 per cent of UK tech employees said they were planning on leaving the UK and their current job to advance their career due to Brexit and that the marketing, and it looked as though the media and design sectors could be most affected by employees leaving i.e. a quarter of professionals in those sectors said they were planning to head abroad.

The pandemic has severely curtailed all global movements and back in the summer, the Japan Times speculated that the confidence gained by UK companies through learning that they could still work effectively having a remote workforce may influence how they’ll approach recruitment after Brexit e.g. executives having roles local to headquarters, but other roles being based elsewhere.

Other commentators point to the fact that the UK already has five of the top 20 European cities for technology, there were large numbers of tech start-ups in January, and Facebook, Apple and Google had set up HQs in London, giving a promising sign of the UK’s tech future beyond Brexit.

Re-skilling and up-skilling from the existing workforce, and a promising number of home-grown graduates moving into the burgeoning AI sector in the UK have also been suggested as positives beyond Brexit, but how immigration laws in the UK post-Brexit affect recruitment from overseas is still a concern.  The fact is that after 31 January, the UK’s immigration system will end the free movement for European citizens and will also bring the rules for EU workers in line with those governing non-EU citizens.  This will mean that EU workers will face job, salary, and language requirements and that those companies attempting to hire new tech workers from outside the UK will need to try and understand some of the key requirements in order to help ensure the success of their recruiting processes.

Supply Chains

The pandemic has brought the importance of supply chains into sharp focus as global restrictions caused widescale disruption.  Predictions about Brexit, prior to the pandemic suggested that UK tech companies may have rushed into trade completions with solution suppliers during the transition period thereby increasing the need for checks on supply chains to stop mistakes from being made. At this late stage in the Brexit process, after so much disruption to supply chains, some supply chain businesses closing and companies having to quickly find new supply chain solutions, supply chain auditing is an important issue for business.  It is likely that UK businesses will face more stringent and thorough supply chain auditing processes after Brexit and will need to be prepared for this challenge.

One example of how technology feeds into trade and supply chains is in haulage and logistics.  Unfortunately, in September, it was revealed that critical IT systems needed to avoid border disruption post-Brexit were behind schedule, raising the threat of border chaos for hauliers. These ten IT systems included the web-based Smart Freight Service for managing customs declarations for the movement of food and medicines.  Concern remains that too few systems are operational and that there may not enough time to train users on the systems.

Reviewing, auditing, and planning as regards your business supply chain with a view to how Brexit at the end of January will affect it is an important consideration.  A supply chain checklist can be found here: https://readyforbrexit.co.uk/supply-chain/

Other Areas

There are, of course, numerous other important technology areas on the Brexit and post-pandemic horizon e.g. a changed business environment and changed industries, new economic constraints due to economic and market damage, the influence on possible trade deals resulting from administration change in the US, re-structured workplaces and working methods, continuing physical travel limitations and advances in the use of the cloud and online platforms for business. Although beyond the scope of this article, how technology’s role will develop in these and other areas is important and something to consider going forward.

Looking Ahead

Much business planning this year has been devoted to survival, dealing with rapid change and uncertainty, and adapting to ensure effective business continuity. Brexit, however, is less than 2 months away and with technology playing a greater role than ever in our lives, how it will be affected by and the part it will play in shaping post-Brexit business will soon become much clearer.  One thing that the pandemic has done is to add perspective to the idea of Brexit and with the many serious challenges that businesses have faced over the last year, this is likely to be another significant challenge that must be met and managed. 

UK COVID Vaccine Maker Targeted By Suspected North Korean Hack

It has been reported that UK drug company AstraZeneca has been targeted by suspected North Korean hackers thought to be looking for COVID vaccine secrets.

Used WhatsApp and LinkedIn

Over the last few weeks, attacks have reportedly been launched on AstraZeneca’s systems by hackers posing as recruiters.  The bogus recruiters used LinkedIn and WhatsApp to target AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers and hid malicious code/malware in the job description documents that were sent to those staff members. Opening the documents would have launched malware that would enable an attack on the drug company’s systems. 

COVID-19 Vaccine

Since the first attempts to develop a vaccine, governments and drug companies have warned about and prepared for state-sponsored attacks from many different countries.

AstraZeneca is currently one of the top three COVID-19 vaccine developers after working with Oxford University to develop a vaccine with an overall efficacy of 70 per cent, a lower one of 62 per cent, and a high of 90 per cent (for a half dose followed by a full dose).   In the US, the FDA has said that any COVID-19 vaccine must be at least 50 per cent effective to be useful in fighting the pandemic.

North Korean?

The attacks on AstraZeneca have been identified as likely to have been the work of North Korea-based hackers because the tools and techniques closely resemble those been used as part of an ongoing hacking campaign that first targeted defence and media company systems.

It is likely, therefore, that the shift in focus followed recent announcements of the success of the Oxford vaccine development.

China

Back in July, it was reported that hackers linked to the Chinese government had targeted vaccine research developer Moderna Inc in the U.S.

Microsoft Says “Cyberattacks Targeting Health Care Must Stop”

Microsoft recently posted on its blog to say that cyberattacks targeting health care must stop and identified Russian hackers known as “Strontium” and two hacking groups from North Korea known as “Zinc and Cerium” as being recent culprits.  Microsoft said that Strontium has been using password spray and brute force login attempts to steal login credentials, Zinc has been using spear-phishing lures for credential theft, and “sending messages with fabricated job descriptions pretending to be recruiters”.  Microsoft also reported that Cerium had been using “spear-phishing email lures using COVID-19 themes while masquerading as World Health Organisation”.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

State-sponsored attacks and attempted interference in the processes of other countries are now widespread, expected, and is an area of a kind of ongoing ‘warfare’ that all countries must deal with. COVID-19 has severely damaged economies and laid waste to many businesses.  Getting effective vaccines approved and into the population of many countries is a vital step in enabling businesses to have a chance of finding more stability and making a recovery and, therefore, attacks on vaccine-makers are clearly a real cause for concern.  This is one of the reasons why Microsoft’s President Brad Smith, has recently called for more to be done by world leaders to take action to uphold international law that protects health care facilities and to enforce the law in attacks by government agencies and criminal groups that governments facilitate/enable to operate.

Big AWS Outage Affects Large Proportion of the Internet and IoT

A big Amazon Web Services (AWS) outage on November 25 affected a large number of Internet services and gadgets at a time when making online sales and using cloud-based remote working platforms are vital for struggling businesses.

AWS

AWS, which is responsible for around 15 per cent of Amazon’s massive overall revenue, is made up of 175+ products and services such as computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, app services, mobile, developer tools, and tools for the Internet of Things (IoT). AWS revenue in 2019 was $35.03 billion.

Critical

The popularity and size of AWS as the biggest of the cloud companies (IaaS and PaaS) means that it is a critical backbone of a huge number of websites and apps worldwide, which is what makes a big outage such a potentially damaging event with economic knock-on effects that have been felt around the world.

What Happened?

On Wednesday, November 25, until 4.18 am on Thursday morning an AWS outage affected 23 AWS geographic regions with representatives from many apps, services, and websites taking to social media to describe how they had been impacted.  Those highlighting the effects included Roku, Adobe Spark, The Washington Post (owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos), and iRobot and Flickr.

IoT Casualties

The outage was reported to have caused IoT gadgets such as robot vacuums and smart doorbells to suddenly stop working.  For example, the Home App responsible for operating iRobot’s Roomba robot vacuum stopped working as did Amazon’s own Ring smart doorbells.

The Cause

Ironically, the outage is believed to have been caused by Amazon introducing a small addition of capacity that was intended to improve the service.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although it didn’t last for long, the fact that so many businesses now rely upon AWS, (which has more than 45 per cent of the global cloud computing market), meant that the effects were widespread and are likely to have been disruptive, costly and potentially dangerous in some cases.  This incident could, therefore, be viewed as an example of why having only a few large companies managing cloud computing globally is not an ideal situation.  This is an issue that has been the subject of discussion and suggestions in recent times, such as the study from Roland Berger and the Internet Economy Foundation (IE.F) which highlighted the possible benefits of multi-cloud solutions for companies and public administrations and state rule-setting to help ensure fair competition in cloud computing.

Companies and organisations around the world have needed to rely heavily on cloud-based services e.g. communications and collaborative working platforms due to the pandemic which makes this outage all the more worrying.

New Competition Rules for Facebook and Google in the UK

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said that Facebook and Google will face new rules next year to prevent abuse of their market dominance.

The Issues

For the CMA, the issues that were highlighted back in July and are now in the forefront again focus on the facts that:

– A massive 80 per cent of the UK’s expenditure on digital advertising, which is the equivalent of £500 per household, goes to Facebook and Google.

– Google a has 90+ per cent share of the UK’s £7.3 billion search advertising market and Facebook has a greater than 50 per cent share of the £5.5 billion display advertising market.

– Google has doubled its revenue per search since 2011, and Facebook’s average revenue per user has risen from under £5 in 2011 to over £50 last year.

– The massive user bases of both are sources of market power e.g. in the training of Google’s algorithms compared to other search engines and in enabling Facebook to enjoy ‘must-have’ status for communications.

– Both have un-matchable access to user data and use their default settings to gain more user data.

– Unlike many rivals, both companies have been able to acquire positions in other markets.

– The media industry has lost a large proportion of its advertising revenues to Facebook and Google.

Meaning?

From the CMA’s perspective, these facts represent serious potential barriers to new competition and appear to show that Facebook and Google now have unassailable market positions that make it very difficult for other companies to compete on equal terms.

New Rules in 2021

The new rules in 2021 will take the form of a statutory code of conduct, enforceable by a new Digital Markets Unit (to be set up in April 2021) working with Ofcom and the ICO. The government says that the code will give consumers more choice and control over how their data is used, give businesses a chance to better promote their products online, and support the sustainability of the news publishing industry to rebalance the relationship between publishers and online platforms.

Expectations and Requirements

The new code will set-out expectations for the behaviour of Google and Facebook in terms of their interaction with competitors and users and will require platforms funded by digital advertising to be more transparent about their services and how consumer data is used.  These platforms will also be required to give consumers a choice over whether to receive personalised advertising and not to place restrictions on customers that make it hard for them to use rival platforms.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The figures appear to show a very clear market dominance by Facebook and Google.  New rules such as these would, therefore, be good news for rival platforms, media companies and other publishers.  Such a ‘Unit’ with statutory power working to create more of a level playing field for them could help to lower the current competitive barriers.  For advertisers, new rules could be the beginning of having a greater choice.  Although Google and Facebook have a weight of experience, data and services that are used by businesses to advertise effectively and, therefore, provide a valuable service to businesses, there are many who share the view that the dominance of just a few big tech companies brings less innovation, higher advertising prices, less choice (and control for consumers), and can curtail the growth of the sector, ultimately impacting upon the businesses that use their services.  There is, however, some scepticism about how effective the government will be in trying to enforce rules upon powerful and influential tech companies that have resisted and avoided many attempts in the past to control them.

Tech Tip – Organising Tabs With A ‘Bounce’

In Windows 10, if you would like a fast and easy way to stay organised by instantly getting a birds-eye view of each tab that you have open without interrupting the flow of your work this tip is for you.

– Click on the tab part of the current window that you are working on.

– Drag the tab and ‘bounce’ it against the side of the screen.

– All the other windows you have open will appear on the opposite side of the screen.

– Select which window you would like to fill the open space.