By March 6, 2015EU insight

By the London technology team

Lords droning on

A House of Lords Committee has called for an EU wide database of drones this week, with flight monitoring, GPS tracking and new rules to manage the risks associated with the rising popularity of unmanned aircraft. This increasing popularity has already prompted official action, with the ICO and CAA publishing guidance, and drones are already banned from being flown in parks and near sensitive sites. 

Regulation has always been a first port-of-call for legislators challenged by new-tech, but given the majority of drones are inexpensive consumer level gadgets, it’s unlikely that regulating all recreational drone flights would be effective. That isn’t to say there aren’t any legitimate concerns. A drone almost hit a landing aircraft at Heathrow and drones were spotted buzzing around landmarks in Paris.

The House of Lords EU Committee acknowledged the commercial potential of drones and warned against over-regulating the market. Their report is available here.

The story was widely covered, featuring in the Daily Telegraph, BBC News and V3.


Sharing is Caring: UK economy comes together

Technology-based business models that help people share their property, time and skills are revolutionising business practices and creating a new wave of entrepreneurs.

Today saw the launch of a new trade body for the Sharing Economy by Business Minister Matt Hancock MP. The creation of Sharing Economy UK (SEUK), follows a recommendation in the Independent Review of the sharing economy written by Debbie Wosskow, the founder of Love Home Swap. Wosskow will chair SEUK in its inaugural year and the body has pledged to hold an annual conference and publish research on the sharing economy.

The UK Government has already indicated its keenness to become the “global centre” for the sharing economy and rival Silicon Valley. Indeed, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced reforms last month to ensure London residents could capitalise on platforms such as Airbnb and rent out their homes on a short term basis.  If the Conservative Party remain in Government after the General Election, you can expect to see further announcements on the sharing economy. Like fintech, this is an area where the party believes the UK and perhaps London holds a competitive advantage.

You can find excellent coverage of today’s announcement in The Telegraph and Tech World.


Vaizey supports UK’s mobile tech companies at MWC 2015

This week the tech world’s attention has been focused on Barcelona, the location for the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC), where many of the industry’s big players have been unveiling their latest gadgets and ideas. As the name suggests, the tech being showcased had a ‘mobile’ focus.

Much of the media coverage of this week’s extravaganza focused on Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg’s attendance and speeches. However, of greater interest to those interested in Government tech policy was the attendance of the Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey MP.

At MWC, Vaizey presented the innovative startup RefME with the Best British Mobile Startup Award. RefME is an app which provides users with an ultra-easy way of citing sources and therefore massively speeds up the referencing process. Additionally, prior to his attendance, the Minister published a thought provoking blog praising British mobile tech companies which is well worth a read.

MWC was well covered by CNET and PC World, whilst the Minister’s attendance featured in the Guardian.