Entries with tag uk government.

UK Government Plans Move to Open Source Software

UK politicians are proposing government offices shift to open source software to save money. Ministers report the government has spent £200 million on Microsoft Office alone since 2010. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said it could reduce much of that expense by moving to applications able to create open document format files, such as OpenOffice and Google Docs. Maude added that this will also help departments more easily share information with one another and the public. (SlashDot)(The Guardian) 

Posthumous Royal Pardon for Alan Turing

Alan Turing, a British mathematician and computer pioneer best known for his work on the code-breaking Enigma computer during World War II,  was given a posthumous, formal royal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on 23 December 2013 for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, which was a criminal offense in Britain. Chris Grayling, the British justice secretary who made the request to the Queen announced the pardon. He and other British politicians have stated Turing should be remembered for his scientific achievements, which include the formation of the Turing test to determine artificial intelligence, and efforts in breaking Nazi naval messages. A formal apology was issued to Turing in 2009, but a campaign, supported by scientists including Stephen Hawking, calling for his full pardon continued. Upon his conviction, Turing was sentenced to chemical castration in lieu of a prison sentence. He also lost his security clearance. Turing committed suicide in 1954, two years after his conviction on charges of gross indecency. He was 41. The pardon went into effect on 24 December. (BBC)(The New York Times)

Huawei Operations in UK Prompt Increased Government Oversight

British national security adviser Kim Darroch is issuing a report saying the nation’s officials should have the last word on any business deals that involve critical national infrastructure. This comes well after the 2005 deal between two telecommunications firms—the UK’s BT Group and China’s Huawei Technologies—without any ministerial oversight. Huawei provides equipment for the nation’s 21st Century infrastructure upgrade (21CN), which allowed it to “become embedded” in the nation’s critical infrastructure without any critical review. Among the concerns are possible state-sponsored espionage or cyberattacks. In addition, the US has expressed similar concern about Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government, going so far as to block it from providing hardware to telecommunications firms.  Darroch has also recommended additional government scrutiny at Huawei’s facility in Banbury, UK. The company opened the center in 2010 to test its new hardware and software for vulnerabilities before they were added to the UK’s critical infrastructure. (Reuters)(Fortune)(The Wall Street Journal)(Financial Times)

UK Creates New Cyberdefense Force

The UK government has formed a new cyberdefense unit to protect national security. The nation’s defense ministry will reportedly recruit hundreds of computer experts to work in its newly formed Joint Cyber Reserve Unit—which will work with regular military forces—starting this month. The unit will protect government computer networks and vital data as well as wage cyberwarfare against enemy targets. UK Defense Secretary Philip Hammond claims the UK is the first nation-state to admit publically that it is developing an offensive cyberattack capability. The initiative is expected to cost up to £500 million. (BBC)(The Daily Mail) 

UK Spectrum Auction Probed

The UK’s National Audit Office is investigating the June 2012 auction of 4G wireless spectrum by British telecom regulator Ofcom to determine whether it was handled in a way that would yield a fair amount of revenue for the government. The auction generated £2.3 billion (about $3.54 billion at press time) rather than the anticipated £3.5 billion (about $5.38 billion). The UK government had factored the expected earnings into its national budget, so the shortfall could cause fiscal problems. Some industry observers say that had there been more aggressive bidding, the auction could have yielded as much as £4 billion (about $6.15 billion). (SlashDot)(TechWeek Europe)(The Guardian)

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