Your commercial news round-up: TikTok Lite, Scottish environmental plans, deepfakes, drug shortages

updated on 18 April 2024

Reading time: three minutes

The European Commission is concerned about the introduction of TikTok Lite, the Scottish government is set to scrap environmental plans, new legislation has criminalised the creation of sexually explicit deepfakes and drug shortages are set to continue. Read on to find out more.

  • The European Commission is concerned about the new “addictive and toxic” TikTok Lite app, which was launched in France and Spain last week. The new version of the app pays users for viewing videos through its tasks and rewards feature. TikTok has until 26 April to provide the European Commission information about the “measures the platform has put in place to mitigate such systemic risks”. According to TikTok, the maximum screen time eligible for awards is one hour and users can only earn up to approximately €1 (£0.85) per day. However, according to research by Dr Sarah Hodge, a cyberpsychologist at Bath Spa University, the awards could have a big effect, “motivating” more people to use the app, which could cause problems for users who are trying to reduce screentime.
  • The Scottish government has confirmed that it’s scrapping plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030 but that the goal of reaching net zero by 2045 will remain. This decision has received a range of protest from campaigners. For example, Friends of the Earth Scotland branded it "the worst environmental decision in the history of the Scottish Parliament". Scotland's International Development Minister Kaukab Stewart expressed disappointment about the announcement, as they’re taking a range of measures in Glasgow to reduce emissions, such as active travel and investing in hydrogen buses. Previously, former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland’s environmental goals were the "most stretching targets in the world". Recent statistics show that, eight out of 12 annual environmental targets were missed. Alex Salmond, a Scottish politician and former first minister, explained that "stretch" targets were a mistake and "hugely embarrassing" for Scotland’s current First Minister Humza Yousaf.
  • Creating ‘sexually explicit’ deepfakes is due to be made a criminal offence and anyone creating these images will face a fine and a criminal record. The Ministry of Justice has stated that offenders will be prosecuted even if they didn’t intend to share the image and, if the image is shared widely, offenders could face jail. Sharing deepfakes was made illegal last year, under the Online Safety Act. The new legislation will be introduced as an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill. Minister for victims and safeguarding, Laura Farris, said: “the creation of deepfake sexual images is despicable and completely unacceptable irrespective of whether the image is shared.” Farris added: “It’s another example of ways in which certain people seek to degrade and dehumanise others − especially women.” She explained that the new law would send a "crystal clear message that making this material is immoral, often misogynistic, and a crime".
  • Drug shortages are set to continue, according to a report from Nuffield Trust health Thinktank. The number of warnings about supply problems have doubled from 648 in 2020 to 1,634 in 2023. There are a range of reasons for the shortages, including covid-19, inflation, the war in Ukraine and global instability. Brexit has also had a large effect as drugs must go through custom checks. Britain must now carry these checks out itself after leaving the European Medicines Agency. So far, shortages have caused a range of issues for doctors, pharmacists, the NHS and patients. For example, shortages have particularly affected patients with ADHD, type 2 diabetes and epilepsy. The chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, Paul Rees, said: “Supply shortages are a real and present danger to those patients who rely on life-saving medicines for their wellbeing. Pharmacy teams have seen the problems get worse in this country over recent years, putting more patients at risk.”

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