Weekly Tech Round-Up | #20

Here is all the UK tech news from the past week, sign up for our newsletter to receive this in your inbox every week. If you like UK tech news you might like our South West tech news update.

GCHQ chief warns of tech ‘moment of reckoning’

The West is faced with a moment of reckoning when it comes to technology and security. Jeremy Fleming said there was a risk that key technologies will no longer be shaped by the West. “We have to keep evolving our approach if we’re going to keep up,” he said of the growing challenge from China. So-called smart cities, which will collect large amounts of data, are just one example, he added.

The UK is a “big beast” when it comes to technology but “we can’t take that for granted”. This was a moment when we had to decide if we were going to continue to evolve and compete with our adversaries.

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Japan Passes Digital Law As Virus Underscores Tech Struggles

Japan’s parliament approved a law to set up a new Digital Agency following the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. This included stumbles in its vaccine rollout, which underscored the country’s need to catch up on technology. The bill passed on Wednesday establishes an agency aimed at bringing greater digitalization to ministries and administrative bodies. The Digital Agency, to be launched in September with an initial staff of 500, will also plan a nationwide shift of local government processes into the cloud. This will try to help facilitate digitalization in the private sector.

There were delayed cash handouts at the beginning of the pandemic and low uptake of remote work. There were also problems with online booking systems for vaccination appointments, all of this has highlighted Japan’s difficulty in taking advantage of more efficient ways of working.

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Uber used 50 Dutch shell companies to dodge taxes on nearly $6 billion in revenue

Uber has been using a complex tax shelter involving around 50 Dutch shell companies to reduce its global tax bill. This is according to recent research from the centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research. In 2019, Uber claimed $4.5 billion in global operating losses for tax purpose. In reality, it brought $5.8 billion in operating revenue, according to CICTAR, an Australia-based research group. Uber has previously disclosed details about its Dutch tax haven in 2019, when it moved its intellectual property from Bermuda to the Netherlands. However, CICTAR’s research sheds more light on how the company has structured its network of shell companies.

“This is the Champions League of tax avoidance,” CICTAR principal analyst Jason Ward told Dutch news magazine De Groene Amsterdammer.NEWSLETTER

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Queen’s Speech approaches key themes for UK tech

This year’s Queen’s speech approached a number of topics that are relevant to the UK technology industry as the government works towards a national recovery following the Covid-19 crisis. Delivered on the 11th of May, the Queen laid out the agenda for parliament. It touched on priority actions, from supporting jobs to driving economic growth, as well as the well-being of citizens and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services. Reading out the bills the government hopes to pass over the next year, the Queen outlined several new tech-related legislative proposals, starting with the framework needed to establish a national advanced research agency, the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill.

“My ministers will oversee the fastest ever increase in public funding for research and development,” the monarch noted.

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