New UK antitrust rules could fine tech giants big bucks for breaking rules

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New antitrust measures are brewing in the United Kingdom.
New U.K. antitrust rules are brewing.
Photo: Colin Watts/Unsplash CC

The United Kingdom is developing new antitrust measures and could fine tech giants up to 10% of their annual revenue for breaking the rules. The Digital Markets Unit’s plan is intended to make it easier for U.K. businesses — such as startups, news publishers and advertisers — to compete with established giants like Apple and Amazon.

“Tech has transformed our lives for the better, whether it’s helping us to stay in touch with our loved ones, share content, or access the latest news,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, the U.K.’s secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, in a press release Tuesday. “Nobody wants to see an unassailable monopoly, and our common sense reforms will help protect consumers, support ground-breaking new ideas and level the playing field for businesses.”

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App Store faces barrage of antitrust charges
Government agencies in the EU and UK are looking into whether the iPhone App Store violates their antitrust laws.
Photo: Sora Shimazaki/Pexels CC

UK flip-flops on Apple and Google’s contact-tracing API, will now use it

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UK's contact-tracing app has been delayed.
Photo: World Health Organization

The U.K. government, which clashed with Apple and Google over its approach to contact tracing, has reportedly done a U-turn and will now adopt the tech giants’ privacy-conscious framework for fighting COVID-19.

The BBC reported the change of heart Thursday, one day after revealing that a former Apple executive, Simon Thompson, has taken charge of the delayed project. Thompson, who works as chief product officer at online retailer Ocado, supervised Apple’s e-commerce efforts a decade ago.

UK’s Big Brother road signs watch for drivers using iPhones

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UK Street signs watching for motorists using their phones are being tested .Big Brother anyone?
Street signs watching for motorists using their phones are being tested in Britain. Big Brother anyone?
Photo: Norfolk County Council

Distracted driving is a major source of accidents. In hopes of combatting the problem, road signs that can detect whether a cell phone is in use are being tested in the UK.

The signs currently just light up to remind the motorist to put down their phone. Plans to record the license plates of drivers receiving warnings are being considered. And traffic citations are the likely next step.

iPhone X camera officially ‘studio quality’

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Apple ad says iPhone X takes studio-quality portraits.
There were some complaints after Apple ads claimed the iPhone X takes "studio-quality portraits."
Photo: Apple

The advertising regulatory body in the UK ruled that Apple can say that the  iPhone X takes “studio-quality portraits.”

An ad for this smartphone promised “Radically new cameras with Portrait Lighting. Studio-quality portraits. Without the studio.” However, this brought two complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Apple coughs up millions for extra U.K. taxes

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Apple could be a $2 trillion company by end of 2021
Apple is handing over an extra $186 million in U.K. taxes.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple Europe has agreed to pay an additional $186 million, including interest on unpaid tax, after an “extensive audit” by HM Revenue and Customs, the U.K. government department responsible for the collection of taxes.

The “corporate income tax adjustment” in the United Kingdom covers the years through September 2015, and reflects Apple’s “increased activity” during that period. The adjustment will be factored into future tax bills paid by Apple.

U.K. Regulator Promises To Investigate Apple’s Misleading iPad 4G Claims

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The new iPad may feature a 4G chip, but it's not compatible with all 4G networks.
The new iPad may feature a 4G chip, but it's not compatible with all 4G networks.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has promised to investigate Apple’s claims of 4G connectivity for the new iPad in the United Kingdom after the Cupertino company failed to remove all references to ‘4G’ from its U.K. online store. Although the device boasts 4G capabilities, they are not available in the U.K. where there are currently no 4G networks.