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Telephone Services: Fraud

Ann Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (1) what consideration he has given to measures to outlaw unsolicited text messages which encourage people to return calls on premium rate lines; [189051]

(2) what estimate has been made of how many people have lost money by returning unsolicited text messages. [189052]

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Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 26 February 2008]: Under the provisions of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, text messages should only be sent with the prior consent of the individual subscriber. However, there is an exemption where the subscriber has given his or her mobile telephone number direct to a company in the context of the purchase of a product or service. Enforcement is undertaken by the Information Commissioner.

Additional safeguards put in place by the regulator, PhonepayPlus and industry require that customers must be clearly informed by text about what they have subscribed to, the cost and how to stop the service. A consumer must be able to switch off the service with the universal ‘stop’ command. If they have inadvertently signed up to a reverse text service, they can cancel it. A message once a month reminds subscribers about the service and the cost and, for every £20 spent, customers must get a further reminder about how to turn off the service.

Information is not collected on the cost of returning unsolicited text messages.

Video Games

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of people employed by (a) games developers, (b) games publishers, (c) games distributors, (d) games retailers and (e) other industries and services associated with the games industry in each year since 1997. [196876]

Malcolm Wicks: Accurate data describing the video and computer games sector are not regularly collated or in fact readily available to the Department for Business,
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Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, particularly as the sector has not had its own separate Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

However, in 2002 the Department of Trade and Industry published “From Exuberant Youth to Sustainable Maturity”, a full competitiveness analysis of the computer games sector carried out by independent consultants, Spectrum Strategy. According to this report, in 2000 employment in the computer games sector totalled over 20,000 broken down as follows :


Games developers


Games publishers


Games distributors


Games retailers


Associated sectors/services


In October 2007, UKTI published “Playing for Keeps”, a report commissioned from independent consultants Games Investor which included a range of valuable new data on the competitiveness of the UK games development sector compared to key competitor territories including the US and Canada. This report confirmed that 8,000 people plus 700 freelancers were employed in games development in the UK in 2006.

New figures for employment in non-development roles were not collected as part of the “Playing for Keeps” study. However, “European Interactive Games - the 2005 State of the Industry Report” published by consultants Screen Digest in association with the Entertainment and Leisure Software Association suggested that by 2004 the total employment figure for the UK computer games industry had risen to 22,190, of which, 16,190 were in publishing, distribution, retail and associated services.

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