techUK Policy Pulse | Your weekly update on digital and tech policy

On Wednesday in Brussels scientists and researchers working on the Event Horizon Telescope project unveiled the first image of a blackhole. It took two years, a 200-strong team, a network of eight radio telescopes and a pretty amazing algorithm to get that image. We can only hope that Katie Bouman will now turn her mind to trying to find a solution to the Irish border.  

Speaking of which, Theresa May was also in Brussels seeking a Brexit extension until the 30 June, coupled with a  ‘flextension’ (yes – that has apparently stuck). In a stunning victory, the UK over achieved and left with an extension to the 31st October (clearly someone has a sense of humour) to get the deal, a deal, or something entirely different through the House of Commons. The good news is that, as it turns out, we aren’t leaving the EU without a deal this evening. The bad news is, Brexit uncertainty is therefore set to continue. To find out more about what this means for the tech sector read my colleague Giles’ piece in the New Statesman here.
  
Casting our minds back to Monday, DCMS and Home Office launched the much anticipated Online Harms White Paper. The Paper, which has a clear green tinge to it, is the next staging point in the UK’s journey to create a new framework to address harms online. techUK will be formally responding to the consultation and working with our members and Government to ensure the final product is effective, proportionate, enforceable and clear. To read our initial comments click here or listen to me debate the issue with John Humphrys on the Today programme (at 0245).  

While the UK debate over what constitutes online harms will continue, the EU is already taking steps on terrorist content, with the proposed Regulation passing through the LIBE Committee on Monday. A number of problematic elements live to see another day, for example a one-hour deadline to remove content. Plenary is set for next week, if the Regulation clears Parliament the next stage will be Trilogue discussions set to take place in the Autumn due to the European Parliamentary elections.  

The EU also published its first guidelines for the ethical development of AI. The guidelines are incredibly granular and techUK has expressed its concerns that this could have a negative impact on SMEs who want to act ethically. To read more about the guidelines and our full comment, click here


techUK news and events

 

This week techUK’s Skills & Diversity Council relaunched its monthly newsletter under a fresh new name: Thrive. If you are interested in Skills and D&I this newsletter is for you, packing in all the latest goings on and signposting interesting events and podcast recommendations. To sign up contact my colleague Nimmi who will make sure it drops into your inbox every month. 

On the back of an incredibly successful techUK Human Rights & Supply Chains conference the team will be running a free, cross-sector one-day event on the responsible sourcing of minerals at techUK’s London offices on 29 April. This one-day conference will explore how businesses are responding to the challenges and highlight real world solutions and actions and explore what a robust response to this issue looks like. To find out more and secure your place, click here.

Looking ahead to the end of April, techUK is proud to be working with Experis and HBB to host the second Future of IoT Event in Bristol. This year’s event will focus on the incredible benefits that the Internet of Things can bring to Manufacturing; from the adoption of advanced manufacturing methods which allow for greater customisation, through to the potential energy savings and performance improvements that it can deliver. To find out more and register, simply click here

All the best,

Vinous

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