UK government

Nevermind superfast broadband – the British government is lining up “superfast patents”. Inventors could be awarded a patent in just ninety days, under a government consultation published on Tuesday. That’s a fraction of the usual two to five years, and only a little longer than the ticketing process for the 2012 London Olympics.

Observers may see anything that makes patents easier as a bad idea, given the smartphone wars. Hence the UK is proposing an extra fee of £3,500-£4,000 for the fast-track service. The hope is that will strip out less credible claims, while allowing serious investors to get their patent – and then some venture capital. Read more >>

Tim Bradshaw

The first major product of sweeping changes to how the government handles its internal IT systems and public-facing websites is to be unveiled on Wednesday, as a new unified website for online public services goes live for testing.

A new single government domain, at www.gov.uk, will replace Directgov, the portal which launched in 2004, before extending across Whitehall departments’ sites in the coming weeks. Read more >>

Maija Palmer

spying

Privacy activists have had a busy few weeks. First there was Google’s announcement that it would start using behavioural targeting for its display advertising, which had them up in arms. The following week Google launched Street View, the controversial 3D mapping feature, in the UK, again drawing protest. The latest concern is over revelations that the UKgovernment is thinking of monitoring social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo as part of its anti-terrorism measures.

 

There is already an EU directive on monitoring emails and internet usage, requiring internet service providers to store traffic data for 12 months. Since the July 2005 the UK government has been keen to broaden the scope of the ways it can monitor for terrorists. This latest proposal is to extend this to social networking sites, which have become hugely popular after the proposals were first formulated.

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