Tag: Brexit

Russian hackers might have gamed Brexit

A website which allowed Britons to register to vote in last year’s European Union referendum might have been targeted by Russian hackers who crashed it before the deadline.

A committee of British MPs said that more than a million potential voters applied to register online in the run up to the deadline two weeks before last June’s vote and the government extended the cut-off point after the website crashed, blaming it on a late rush by mainly young citizens.

But parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said it did not rule out the possibility that the crash was caused by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber attack.

“PACAC is deeply concerned about these allegations about foreign interference,” said the report.

The committee said that the interference would not have changed the outcome, but it was rather disconcerting anyway.

Russia has been accused of trying to influence the 2016 U.S. election and the committee said the government needed to ensure future elections and referendums were monitored with plans in pace to respond to and contain any cyber-attacks.

The report said that Russia and China use a cognitive approach based on understanding of mass psychology and of how to exploit individuals.

“The implications of this different understanding of cyber-attack, as purely technical or as reaching beyond the digital to influence public opinion, for the interference in elections and referendums are clear.”

The committee was also critical of the government’s failure to prepare for a vote for Brexit and former Prime Minister David Cameron’s motives for calling the referendum in the first place, saying using plebiscites as a “bluff call” to close “unwelcome debate” was questionable.

“There was no proper planning for a Leave vote so the EU referendum opened up much new controversy and left the prime minister’s credibility destroyed,” the report said.

Apple blesses Brexit

apple-cultFruity tax-dodging cargo-cult’s supreme dalek Tim Cook told UK PM Theresa May that he was optimistic about Britain’s future after it leaves the European Union.

Cook met May at Downing Street and said he thought the UK would be “just fine” outside the European Union.

Last year, Apple said it was moving its London headquarters to the landmark Battersea Power Station, a move that was hailed by the government as a sign that major firms are still investing after the Brexit vote.

Of course, as far as Apple is concerned there is the small matter of having an English-speaking country which is free to negotiate over the troubling matter of the Jobs’ Mob paying its tax. European countries tend to have to answer to Brussels if they offer the sort of sweeteners that Apple likes.

Microsoft might close datacentres post Brexit


Get-Britain-OutSoftware King of the World Microsoft might mothball its UK datacentre plans after  Blighty decided to pull out of the EU.

Microsoft had wanted to set up its datacentres in the UK so that European data did not have to cross the pond to the US.  This was because the EU was a little worried about US spooks spying in European citizens and wanted all data to stay here.

However, with the UK outside the EU too, the Microsoft set up its databases in the UK is completely pointless.

Microsoft’s UK Government Affairs Manager Owen Larter spoke in the What Brexit Means for Tech webinar expressing that the Redmond giant is committed to their branches in the UK. At least, for now.

But it is getting more worried that if Britain leaves the European single market is that import tariffs will rise and if the tariffs were to become an issue, Microsoft might pull their future plans for Britain’s two datacentres.

“We’re really keen to avoid import tariffs on any hardware. Going back to the datacenter example, we’re looking to build out our datacentres at a pretty strong lick in the UK, because the market is doing very well… So if the UK puts tariffs on Chinese server racks or eastern Europe, where a lot of them are actually assembled, that might change our investment decisions and perhaps we build out our datacentres across other European countries.”

If Vole cannot build in Britain, then they will build surrounding it.

Ironically one upside to the Brexit for Microsoft is the ability to bring in foreign employees into the UK for work.

“We’ve really struggled internally at Microsoft sometimes to bring people over from the US, from China, from India. Even just on a month or by week basis, because the restrictions on immigration from outside the EU have been so severe, because we [the UK] couldn’t control immigration from inside the EU and we were conscious about the numbers.”

We say ironic because many people thought they were voting Brexit to keep foreign workers out of the UK. This means Vole is confident they can bring many more in.


Petition calls for Brexit to protect EU collaboration on R&D

European flagA total of 38,370 people has called on the UK government to protect access to European Union research and development programmes in the run up to Britain leaving the bloc.

The petition says that UK access to the programmes “stimulates billions of pounds of investment” and gives us here access to skills and technologies.

“Ending our access to these programmes will weaken our economy which depends on exploitation of innovative science and technology,” the petitioners say.

The government under its own rules has to respond to petitions if over 10,000 people sign.

But as far as Brexit goes, the government hasn’t really made a response except in the blandest of terms.

“The Government continues to value scientists, researchers and students, including those from outside the UK who come to learn and work in our country and recognises the benefits that the rich diversity of our research and scientific communities brings to our society and our economy. The UK continues to be one of the best places in the world to do science and the Government will work to ensure that our excellent education and research remains a magnet for brilliant minds.”

That, according to one of the lead petitioners TechEye spoke to this week, is nothing short of scandalous.

The petition says that while the UK might be able to replace the lost EU funding, it wouldn’t be able to restore research collaboration and indeed they’d have no financial incentive to do so.

You can find the petition here.

Britexit slashes UK science funding

mad scientistUK boffins are being told to leave EU science projects because the country has decided that it can do all that sort of thing itself.

The UK’s science efforts received a huge chunk of funding from the EU, and was involved with a large number of joint projects but now it looks like the boffins are being told to walk away.

Fortunately, the UK government has piles of money which is why it is talking about flogging off the NHS and cutting back on education programmes.

Theoretically the UK should be fine at the moment, after all the country has not actually decided to follow the Brexit referendum and leave the EU, but apparently the EU has unleashed a wave of discrimination against UK researchers, with elite universities in the country coming under pressure to abandon collaborations with European partners.

In a confidential survey of the UK’s Russell Group universities, British academics are being asked to leave EU-funded projects or to step down from leadership roles because they are considered a financial liability.

For example an EU project officer recommended that a lead investigator drop all UK partners from a consortium because Britain’s share of funding could not be guaranteed. The note implied that if UK organisations remained on the project, which is due to start in January 2017, the contract signing would be delayed until Britain had agreed a fresh deal with Europe.

British researchers receive about £1bn a year from EU finding programmes such as Horizon 2020, but access to the money must be completely renegotiated under Brexit and is unlikely to happen.

The 24 universities in the Russell Group are regarded as Britain’s elite institutions. With Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, University College London and Imperial College among their number, they are renowned for world-class research and academic excellence.

New EU projects are reluctant to be in collaboration with UK partners, and that potentially all new funding opportunities from Horizon 2020 are closing”.

At least two social science collaborations with Dutch universities have been told UK partners are unwelcome, one Russell Group university said in the survey.

Speaking at Oxford’s Wolfson College last Friday, the university’s chancellor, Chris Patten, said Oxford received perhaps more research income than any European university, with about 40% coming from government. “Our research income will of course fall significantly after we have left the EU unless a Brexit government guarantees to cover the shortfall,” Lord Patten said.

Still a least we will not have the EU telling us what to do.  We will have an elected, democratic leader like Teresa May.  Oh..

Technology companies mull a post-Brexit pull out

rat treading waterSome top technology companies are mulling if it is wise to try selling in the UK after the nation voted to leave the EU.

For those who came in late, last week the UK public believed several right wing politicians that all their problems were not really caused by right wing politicans, but rather the country’s membership of the EU. They were also believed that the country’s economy did not realy depend on the fact that it was in the EU.

This week the country is waking up to the fact that the right wing politicians did not really expect to win and did not have a plan if they did. They are trying to sing a rousing chorus of “there will always be an England” even as they are being hauled up for barefaced lying.

Meanwhile the technology companies who moved to the UK or sell into the country because of its EU Linkes  are thinking of doing a Brexit of their own.

Samsung and LG Electronics’ sales in the region in recent years have already been miserable, but Brexit is expected to add hurdles for the two companies.

Local companies do not operate production facilities in the UK. Samsung Electronics’ European production base for home appliances is located in Poland, and those for television products are in Slovakia and Hungary. LG Electronics’ main European facility is located in Poland.

With the UK now severed from the EU, industry watchers have raised concerns that Korean companies’ products made in Europe could be subject to tariffs when entering the UK market.

Samsung is also reported to considering relocating its European headquarters in London to a location in Europe.

UK’s Fintech would get short-term boost from Brexit

Europe with flags - Wikimedia CommonsBritain leaving the European Union could give fledgling financial technology companies an immediate boost  but deprive them of expansion later on, experts have warned.

Once the Brexit vote to leave is known, traditional banking will flounder and provide some opportunity for new firms.

Britain has sought to lead the way in fostering financial technology – such as platforms that allow individuals to lend small sums to businesses or smartphone apps for payments – to “disrupt” the dominant, big banks on the high street.

Dubbed fintech, the area employs more than 60,000 people with revenues of $9.40 billion in 2015. However this is tiny compared with the overall financial services sector. At the moment none of them is big enough to need a European market.

Rhydian Lewis, founder and chief executive of lending platform RateSetter, told an Innovate Finance conference said that this means that Brexit might discombobulate the incumbents for a number of years, allowing fintech to move into that space.

Basically because anything that puts innovation further down the list for traditional firms creates more breathing room for fintech.

Markets larger than Britain would be needed longer term for the fledgling companies to “scale up”.

In the long term Brexit would deprive fintech of potential access to a large market at a time when the UK regulatory regime was still challenging.

UK financial services minister Harriett Baldwin told the 1,400 delegates crammed into the financial district’s ancient Guildhall that the government would step up efforts to foster fintech.

A new information hub would make it easier for start-ups to find legal and accounting services, and a government agency will build “fintech bridges” for them to expand internationally, Baldwin said.