By the London Technology Team
Queen’s Speech getting digital, digital
Tech featured prominently in the Queen’s Speech with the Digital Economy Bill and the Modern Transport Bill being the headline news. The Digital Economy Bill featured issues that had been the subject of prolonged speculation in the months prior to its publication. Most notably, it re-emphasised the Government’s commitment to delivering a ‘right’ to broadband, measures for improving switching providers and plans to introduce age-verification for pornographic websites.
Perhaps more excitingly, Her Majesty also outlined the Government’s plans for new forms of transport through the Modern Transport Bill, including making the UK a global testbed for driverless vehicles and ensure that appropriate insurance is available. The UK is already seen as being one of the friendlier nations towards this sort of technology and industry should be encouraged by the Government’s recent commitments. Additionally, the Bill intends to support the drone industry through promoting their manufacture and operation rather than introducing regulatory obstacles.
With the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill also likely to prevent those deemed to be extremists from posting content online, it is clear that the tech sector has much to look out for in the next year of the Government’s legislative programme. Hasan Chowdhury wrote about the tech aspects of the speech for the New Statesman.
Big tech backs Bremain
A little overshadowed by the Queen’s Speech, but this week also saw some of the largest tech firms coming out strongly on the side of ‘Bremain’. The likes of Microsoft and HPE issued statements detailing their Brexit concerns, citing apprehensions about the impact a vote to leave would have on free trade, access to talent, and the ability of the UK to attract investment. David Bicknell penned a useful piece on where the largest IT companies stand for Government Computing.
Brexit concerns are not only felt by these established goliaths, but also by the UK’s so-called tech ‘unicorns’. The Guardian’s Alex Hern reported that out of Britain’s 14 ‘unicorns’, private firms with a +$1bn valuation, none are publicly supporting Brexit, and five have come out strongly for remain.
Sharing economy users: to the left, to the left
A poll of 4000 Americans who use ‘sharing economy’ services like Uber and Airbnb showed that users were more left wing than the average. The poll said the average user tended to be well-educated, politically liberal young urbanites, which isn’t that surprising, given that young people take up new tech and cities tend to have better digital connectivity and more Uber drivers.
However, when it comes to their views on how these services should be regulated, the same people had a more right wing view, believing these companies shouldn’t be stifled. It probably isn’t surprising that people enthusiastically using sharing economy services want to keep them easy to use and cheap. Nellie Bowles covered the survey for the Guardian.