People moves, funding and new powers to monitor and control internet use.
In the weeks running up to the General Election, the air was thick with promises for the UK’s burgeoning tech sector. With the Tories seven days into the majority government that they hadn’t dared dream of, CBR has rounded up some tech take-aways from the new administration.
1. Sajid Javid moves…
Sajid Javid has left his role as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to become Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and takes on the lofty title of President of the Board of Trade. Javid has championed the expansion of mobile coverage in his tenure, spearheading a deal with the four major operators to improve infrastructure.
2. …Ed Vaizey doesn’t
Meanwhile, Ed Vaizey has once again taken up his post as minister of state for culture and the digital economy. Beginning the role in 2014 in a cabinet reshuffle, Vaizey has used his time to champion 5G and IoT. He has also been involved in the Prime Minister’s Digital Taskforce. The MP for Wantage took up the role after four years as parliamentary undersecretary for the department.
3. Restricting online activity to tackle ‘extremism’
New powers first announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in March are set to be included in the Queen’s Speech. These could see ‘extremists’, presumably as defined by the Government, being banned from broadcasting or being ordered to send all online communications to police for approval. Ofcom will also gain new powers to regulate channels publishing extremist content. David Cameron argues that the UK has been a ‘passively tolerant’ society for too long.
4. The return of the Snooper’s Charter
The Liberal Democrats may have got a tough hearing at this election for going into coalition with the Conservatives, but one of their most notable actions was to block the passing of the Snooper’s Charter to control the online activities of extremists on democratic grounds. Well, the Lib Dems are out and the Snooper’s Charter is in. May has indicated that the Draft Communications Data Bill, plans to force internet service providers to keep customer data on file and make it available to authorities on request is back on the table.
5. Funding initiatives
A range of funding initiatives have been announced since the election, to be distributed through the government-run Innovate UK. Small or micro businesses leading feasibility studies in electronics, sensors and phototonics; information and communication technology; advanced materials and biosciences can win a grant of £3 million. In addition, roughly £34 million is available to support businesses and researchers working in industrial biotechnology.