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Uber: London operating license decision due on September 28
by Paul Hill
Uber will find on September 28 whether or not it has been given an operating license in London. The operating license issue between the ride-hailing firm and Transport for London (TfL) has been going on for several years now. In November last year, TfL refused to give the firm a new operating license because it believed the firm was neither fit nor proper.
The battle between the two started back in 2017 when TfL denied Uber a license before a judge restored it on probation. TfL’s main issue with Uber is that it doesn’t believe the service is safe. In response, Uber implemented more safety checks but TfL was still able to find issues.
Drivers that make their living with Uber do not have to worry about the upcoming decision too much; if the judge gives the license back to the firm then life for drivers will go on as normal. If the judge refuses to issue a new license then drivers can continue doing their job while Uber appeals the decision which could drag things on for months or even years.
Ultimately, if Uber is forced out of London it shouldn’t hurt commuters too much because the capital is very well connected with trains, the underground, buses, bicycles, and black cabs.
U.K.: 20% of businesses used mobile data to stay afloat in 2020
by Paul Hill
Research from O2 and Development Economics has suggested that one-fifth of businesses in the U.K. used mobile data to stay afloat during the coronavirus lockdown. The firm found that had mobile data not been available, £205 billion in economic output could have been lost.
O2 said that the figures were estimated using ONS data on economic output across the U.K. and employee activity monitoring. Between April and June, the U.K.’s GDP fell by 20.4%, O2 reckons that without mobile connectivity, more pressure would have been placed on the furlough scheme and GDP.
Commenting on the findings, Mark Evans, CEO at O2, said:
During the lockdown, mobile companies such as O2 offered customers discounted or free broadband to help them weather the economic impact. Vodafone, for example, gave small businesses free broadband while EE gave NHS staff unlimited mobile data until October due to the pressure health workers were under.
For its part, O2 says that it has extended 4G and 5G coverage to over 186,000 postcodes around the country since the lockdown started to ensure that people can stay in touch with their friends, family, and colleagues.
By Usama Jawad96
Nvidia is acquiring Arm for $40 billion
by Usama Jawad
Earlier this year, it was revealed Nvidia was considering buying Arm from SoftBank. Then last month, SoftBank confirmed that it was indeed considering selling the UK-based chipset designer, which it purchased for $32 billion back in 2016. Today, Nvidia has confirmed the deal, valued at a whopping $40 billion.
In a blog post, Nvidia stated that the transaction allows it to create the "premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence". Nvidia has clarified that Arm will continue to operate its open-source licensing model with the company's IP to remain registered in the UK. The firm will also be looking to expand its presence in the UK by building a new global center of excellence in AI at Arm's Cambridge campus, and will invest in an Arm-powered AI supercomputer as well.
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA, stated that:
Regarding the financials surrounding the $40 billion deal, SoftBank will remain committed to Arm's long-term success with a 10% ownership stake in Nvidia. It will be paid $21.5 billion in Nvidia's common stock - which equates to 44.3 million shares -, $12 billion in cash, and up to $5 billion in earn-out construct. Arm employees will also receive $1.5 billion in equity. The transaction does not include Arm's IoT Services Group. SoftBank's undertakings with Arm, which were made as a part of its 2016 acquisition, are expected to be complete by September 2021.
As with any deal of this scale, this transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, and is expected to be finalized within the next 18 months.
Cyberflashing law reforms set to come to England and Wales
by Paul Hill
The Law Commission for England and Wales has published proposals to better protect victims from harmful online behaviour. The proposals suggest an alteration to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to cover Cyberflashing (unsolicited nude images and videos) and reforms to the Malicious Communications Act (MCA) 1988 and the Communications Act (CA) 2003 to criminalise pile-on harassment.
Pile-on harassment is defined by the Law Commission as several different individuals sending harassing communications to a victim. The proposed changes include communication such as emails, social media posts, and WhatsApp messages. It also includes communications over Bluetooth or a local intranet which aren’t yet covered by the Communications Act 2003.
The Law Commission said that online abuse is covered by the MCA 1988 and the CA 2003 but suffers from a range of problems including that they do not “adequately criminalise” cyberflashing and pile-on harassment. It also said the threshold of criminality is too low and with its reforms wants to heighten it to only include those who knowingly post false information about someone or are intending to cause harm.
Commenting on the proposals, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
In the proposal, the Law Commission also asks questions about other areas that could be reformed in the future. These included topics such as incitement or encouragement of pile-on harassment, knowing participation in pile-on harassment, the glorification of violence or violent crime, and incitement or encouragement of self-harm. You can find the full paper on the Law Commission’s website.
England and Wales to launch COVID tracing app on Sept. 24
by Paul Hill
The U.K. government has announced that England and Wales will launch a COVID-19 contact tracing app to the general public on September 24. The two countries will be the last in the United Kingdom to launch a contact tracing app with Northern Ireland launching one in July and Scotland launching its app last week.
The new contact tracing app that’ll be used in England and Wales has been in a trial phase since the middle of August. Residents of Newham in London and the Isle of Wight have been able to help beta test the app.
Unlike the centralised app which the government originally opted to pursue, the new app will use Bluetooth to detect nearby people but will also let you scan QR codes when you attend a venue. If anyone who visited the venue tests positive for coronavirus you will be notified and told to isolate yourself.
Discussing the QR codes, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
If the app detects that you may have coronavirus, the nice green circle will turn an alarming red and will let you know that you need to isolate yourself until a certain time and day. In England, if you do not follow the isolation instruction you can be fined, however, your usage of the app is anonymous so authorities can’t tell if you’re flouting the rules.