The Film Act is under revision, with major implications for online film providers. Under the revised act, companies that show films in Switzerland in their programmes or as 'electronic services on demand or by subscription' (ESDS) must use at least 1% of their gross revenues to invest in independent Swiss film productions or pay a compensation fee. In addition, companies offering films in Switzerland as ESDS must allocate a minimum of 30% of their platform capacity to European films.
The Federal Council recently tasked the Department of Finance with drafting a bill which will introduce a cyberattack notification obligation for operators of critical infrastructure. The draft will appoint a central reporting office and provide uniform criteria for all sectors in order to clarify how the reporting procedure would work. This step forward represents a key point of implementation of the national strategy for the protection of Switzerland against cyber risks.
Parliament recently revised the federal telecoms legislation – in particular, the Federal Telecommunications Act and its various implementing ordinances. These revised regulations entered into force on 1 January 2021. The revision of the telecoms legislation brings about several fundamental changes that affect consumers as well as telecoms service providers and telecoms operators.
The Federal Council recently submitted to Parliament the draft and corresponding dispatch of the new Federal Act on the Protection of Minors in respect of Films and Video Games. Age labelling and age controls for films and video games will be uniformly stipulated throughout Switzerland and made mandatory for films and video games available at public events, through on-demand services and on physical storage media such as tapes, disks or sticks.
The abolition of Swiss withholding tax on bonds and other collective debt financings is a welcome measure that allows Switzerland to significantly strengthen its position as an international finance and treasury centre. All types of financing and refinancing activity in Switzerland will be facilitated as adverse withholding tax consequences can be prevented. This fundamental change of the Swiss withholding tax regime is expected to come into force on 1 January 2022 at the earliest.
The Federal Council's Cyber Committee recently adopted a report on the advancement of the 2018-2022 national strategy for the protection of Switzerland against cyber risks and its gradual implementation. The report focuses mainly on the progress made in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and promoting research and training.
Under the current tax framework, the non-uniform cantonal tax practices on the capital gains treatment and valuation of employee shares in start-ups and other non-listed companies lead to different tax consequences for employees depending on their place of residence. The Swiss Federal Tax Administration recently created a favourable framework for start-ups and enhanced the legal certainty and predictability of the tax consequences with regard to non-listed employee shares.
The ordinance concerning the tax credit provided for in applicable Swiss double tax treaties has been significantly amended with effect from 1 January 2020. The new ordinance provides welcome amendments, including an extension of the scope of application to Swiss permanent establishments of foreign companies. In contrast, some of the new features introduced in the ordinance may have a negative effect on taxpayers.
Parliament recently approved new regulations for blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT). The goal of this new legal framework is to further establish and increase Switzerland's reputation as a leading, innovative and sustainable location for fintech and DLT companies. Because Switzerland already has a world-class and pioneering infrastructure for financial markets, these qualities should allow it to remain at the forefront of the DLT and fintech scene.
Parliament recently approved the final draft of the revised Data Protection Act, which is expected to enter into force in 2022. The revision aims to modernise Switzerland's data protection landscape in line with the more sophisticated EU legislation, particularly the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force in 2018.
The Federal Administrative Court (FAC) recently issued a ruling concerning the status of instant messaging app Threema from a telecoms surveillance legislation perspective. The consequences of the FAC's ruling, if upheld by the Federal Supreme Court, would exonerate many over-the-top service providers (typically instant messaging and voice call providers) from certain obligations under telecoms legislation. However, businesses active in the telecoms area should nonetheless remain cautious.
The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) recently removed the United States from its list of countries deemed to provide an "adequate level of data protection". Essentially, the FDPIC is of the opinion that legal remedies for data subjects in Switzerland under the Swiss-US Privacy Shield are insufficient. Going forward, businesses must reassess their cross-border data transfers in light of the FDPIC's statement.
The Federal Supreme Court recently issued a ruling addressing the liability of a securities trading company when hackers break into and use a client's email account to send transfer orders. This case is a stark reminder of the importance for anyone using online accounts and online (email) communications to properly secure their IT systems against hackers and other malevolent third parties. In case of any suspicious activity, it is necessary to immediately assess the situation and react accordingly.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently declared that the European Commission's decision that the United States ensured an adequate level of protection of personal data transferred under the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework was invalid. This article examines the effect that the ECJ's decision will have on the Swiss-US Privacy Shield Framework.
The EU Directive on Administrative Cooperation need not be incorporated into Swiss law, but its impact on groups based in Switzerland may be significant. Considering the directive's broad scope, it is crucial that Swiss-based groups identify qualifying intercompany transactions at an early stage and ensure that they comply with the applicable subsidiary reporting obligations in cases with no involvement of EU intermediaries.
Bills of exchange are subject to strict regulations governing their formal and substantive aspects. However, the position of the beneficiary of a bill of exchange is much stronger than the legal position of the contractual assignee of a receivable not embodied in such an instrument. Thus, from a Swiss perspective, it is worthwhile considering a draft purchase structure, particularly in case of a high value of the single receivables that will be subject to the transaction.
The European Parliament recently decided to postpone the transition timeline to implement the EU Medical Device Regulation, which was set to expire on 26 May 2020, until 26 May 2021. Although there has been no official statement from the European Union, the competent Swiss authorities consider it as granted that the status quo regarding medical devices continues to apply to Switzerland. This article discusses the presumed impact of the postponement on the Swiss medtech industry.
The Federal Council recently adopted the Ordinance on Protecting against Cyber Risks (OPCy), which is set to enter into force on 1 July 2020. This move is the next step in a series of measures taken by the Federal Council to adopt a new organisational structure and implement a national strategy to protect Switzerland against cyber risks. Along with the adoption of the OPCy, the Federal Council has also planned for 20 additional positions in the respective offices for cyber risk protection.
The Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance recently published its latest semi-annual report regarding the most important cyber incidents and cyber risks of the second half of 2019 in Switzerland and abroad. The report contains several practical recommendations for individuals and companies to improve their protection against cyberattacks.
In economic life, debt waivers involving associated companies take on central significance in the context of a restructuring. It can be assumed that restructuring will greatly increase in the near future due to the financial difficulties of many companies resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. Although the tax treatment of a debt waiver granted by an independent third party is essentially well defined (ie, it is recognised in income), many questions will arise if debt is waived by a related party – namely, a shareholder.