#WhatTheTech 7

Written by:
Leah Johnston
Date Posted:
14 June 2019

We’ve handpicked some tech/security related news stories from the past week, in case you missed them.

£1.2 billion investment pledge into UK tech
This week global tech companies have pledged a £1.2 billion investment into the UK tech industry.

The Prime Minister made a number of commitments to ensure that the UK remains the largest tech hub in Europe, as well as holding a round table with the likes of Microsoft UK, Google and Monzo to discuss how to use technology to boost the economy.

The announcement was made at the start of London Tech Week, which is the celebration of the city’s technology sector. Commitments included £153 million worth of government funding, £205 million from industry to focus on quantum technologies, and 2,500 places on AI and data conversion courses.

Thirteen businesses have also chosen to invest in the UK as a leader in tech innovation and talent. Plans include a £1 billion investment from VMware over the next five years.

AWS – The great tax evasion
HMRC spent £11m on AWS services in 2018 according to a recent report, which ironically is more than six times the £1.7m it received in corporation tax from Amazon UK.

The UK’s tax authority was the second-biggest spender on AWS services in central government, with The Home Office spending nearly £16m in 2018. The hosting contracts with Amazon were awarded after it almost halved its UK corporation tax bill to £4.5m in 2017 from £7.4m in the year previously.

The UK government clearly has a close relationship with the US tech giant, but many experts have expressed irritation and concern that Amazon is making a profit from the government when they refuse to pay their fair share of taxes.

AWS has responded saying that the report is ‘misleading’ and that they are helping the government by providing ‘value for money’ for the services that they receive.

WordPress VIP GO (down)
Websites hosted on WordPress’s VIP GO platform experienced issues this week after a strange glitch left sites with a 503 ‘service unavailable’ error. Sites were not loading or were loading as templates, making the site look like a blog rather than the public facing website.

Websites across the world stopped working, hitting major sites such as the BBC, Techcrunch and The Sun. It also affected Facebook, who use WordPress blogs for their official news hubs.

Any personalisation that had been applied to the site had disappeared. A fix had been rolled out but did not appear on sites immediately. This highlights how many major organisations rely on 3rd party vendors – several sites had to revert to a default WordPress theme or backup site until the issue had been resolved.

Uber, flying down under
Taxi app giant, Uber, has selected Melbourne as the third pilot city for its air taxi programme. Uber Air will also be piloted in Dallas and Los Angeles, with test flights due to start in 2020. The aim is to launch commercial flights in 2023 if testing goes to plan.

The ‘aerial ridesharing’ will shuttle people in helicopters for the same price as an UberX. It will allow passengers to travel across a network of landing pads which will be called ‘Skyports’. Uber states that a 19km journey from Melbourne’s central business district to the airport would take 10 minutes by air, rather than an hour by car.

Several other companies are developing flying taxis as a future mode of transport to ease traffic congestion in cities. Would you use an Uber Air?


We’ll be back next week with more tech news!

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