The government has announced new measures to tackle the sale of unsafe laser pointers, including strengthening safeguards to stop high-powered lasers entering the country.
In a response to a call for evidence launched last year following a recent increase in the number of incidents involving lasers, the government today (8 January 2018) pledged additional support to local authority ports and borders teams to stop high-powered laser pointers entering the UK.
This includes supporting local authority teams to carry out increased checks at the border, including testing products to ensure they are safe. The support will also ensure local authority teams have access to the necessary scientific, technical and testing expertise.
The government will work with manufacturers and retailers to improve laser pointer labelling, indicating that they must not be pointed at eyes or at vehicles and must state the power level of the product. The policing of online laser pointer sales will also be improved by working with online retailers including eBay.
More than 150 incidents of eye injuries involving laser pointers were reported since 2013, the vast majority of these involving children. As in many of these cases neither children nor their parents have known the danger involved, the government will also work to raise awareness of the risks associated with laser pointers.
In 2016, the Civil Aviation Authority received reports of 1,258 laser incidents, with Heathrow the most frequent location for reports of the devices being used recklessly.
Laser beam attacks against the rail network are also a concern. Records from the British Transport Police show that between 1 April 2011 and 30 November 2017, a total of 578 laser incidents were recorded. This equates to approximately 96 incidents per year.
Margot James, Consumer Minister, said:
The government has listened to concerns from pilots, health professionals and safety experts, which is why we are going further than ever before to crack down on the sale of unsafe devices.
Public safety is of the utmost importance and we are working to increase the public’s knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these devices and strengthening the penalties for when they are misused.
Professor John O’Hagan, of PHE’s Laser and Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group, said:
Over time we have become increasingly concerned about the dangers of growing numbers of unlabelled and incorrectly labelled high power laser pointers being bought by the public.
It is tragic that we continue to see eye injuries, especially in children. Laser safety experts at Public Health England have worked closely with local authorities in stopping large numbers of these lasers reaching UK consumers.
The extra protections proposed should help even further – if you have a laser and you don’t need it, remove the batteries and get rid of it.
Brian Strutton, General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), said:
This is more welcome news from the government on lasers and shows that it is taking this important issue seriously.
The Department for Transport recently announced the introduction of new tougher laws for those who shine lasers at aircraft. Now the tougher restrictions on importation should hopefully stop high-powered lasers reaching the hands of those with ill-intentions in the first place.
Shining a laser at an aircraft is extremely dangerous and has the potential to cause a crash that could be fatal to not only those on board, but people on the ground too.
Today’s measures build on tough new penalties in the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, which was introduced by the Department for Transport last year. The Bill expands the list of vehicles it is an offence to target with lasers. It also makes it easier to prosecute offenders by removing the need to prove an intention to endanger a vehicle. People who shine laser devices at transport operators could be jailed for up to 5 years.
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Staffordshire Police are now doing more than ever to protect the public and businesses against the threat of cybercrime they launch their first ever Digital PCSO.
PCSO Matthew Hough-Clewes has landed this innovative position – one of less than ten such PCSOs doing this specialist role in the UK. This will see him providing important advice on cyber security and how to stay safe online to residents across the county.
Matt will spend his time visiting businesses, community groups, and public events to deliver advice and reassurance in person – but his avatar alter ego will also be engaging with thousands of people via his Twitter feed @sp_digitalpcso.
Matt joined Staffordshire Police in 2009 after studying uniform public services. As he developed in his role Matt realised he enjoyed presenting and educating members of the public around crime prevention.
He said: “Cybercrime is swiftly becoming the most damaging crime a victim can experience. Millions of pounds of money and reams of sensitive data are stolen every year and a lot of this can be prevented with some simple actions.
“I’m here to show you how to protect yourself online and not be tricked into giving away info to the wrong person. There’s lots to do and I’m really excited about getting stuck in and improving cyber security in Staffordshire.”
Detective Sergeant Gary Sirrell from the West Midlands Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) specialist cybercrime team welcomed Matt’s experience and understanding of the subject, saying: “I’ve sat through some cyber conferences that have been too technical – and to be honest the small percentage of people who were understanding what was being said were the ones that least needed the advice as they were probably already cyber-savvy.
“We’ll be looking for Matt to get across common sense, simple-to-implement online safety advice that can really help people protect their data, take precautions online and implement safeguards.
“A significant amount of cybercrime could be prevented in the first instance if members of the public were aware of how to protect themselves from becoming victims of online crime.”
Tweet any cyber security questions to Matt at @sp_digitalpcso
Police are set to be given powers to prevent the unsafe or criminal use of drones as part of a new package of legislation.
The measures are intended to allow drone users to continue flying safely and legally, helping to place the UK at the forefront of the fast-growing drone industry. This will also pave the way for the devices to be harnessed for a range of uses by businesses and public services.
The draft Drone Bill, which will be published next spring, will give officers the right to order operators to ground drones where necessary. Officers will also be able to seize drone parts to prove it has been used to commit an offence.
New measures will also make it mandatory for drone owners to register to improve accountability. And drone operators will be required to use apps – so they can access the information needed to make sure any planned flight can be made safely and legally.
Banning drones from flying near airports or above 400 feet could also form part of the new regulations.
The news comes as funding for a pioneering new drones programme is announced to help cities shape the way this new technology operates and the benefits it brings.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said:
Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops.
But if we are to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.
These new laws strike a balance, to allow the vast majority of drone users to continue flying safely and responsibly, while also paving the way for drone technology to revolutionise businesses and public services.
The government will publish the draft Drone Bill for consultation and introduce secondary legislation amendments in spring 2018. Changes to the Air Navigation Order will mean that that mean:
drone users will have to sit safety awareness tests
users of drones weighing 250 grams and over will in future have to be registered
The government is also working closely with drone manufacturers to use geo-fencing to prevent drones from entering restricted zones.
The Flying High Challenge, funded by the government and run by Nesta in partnership with Innovate UK, is set to launch tomorrow (Monday, 27 November) when cities will be invited to register their interest.
Up to 5 cities will be supported in the research and development of drone technology which could transform critical services in – for example, emergency health services and organ transport, essential infrastructure assessment and repair, and parcel delivery and logistics.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Criminal Misuse of Drones, Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said:
Police forces are aware of the ever increasing use of drones by members of the public and we are working with all relevant partners to understand the threats that this new technology can pose when used irresponsibly or illegally. Do not take this lightly – if you use a drone to invade people’s privacy or engage in disruptive behaviour, you could face serious criminal charges.
Police officers will use all available powers to investigate reports of criminal misuse of drones and seek the appropriate penalty. Make sure you know the rules for using a drone because it is always your responsibility to ensure that you are acting within the law and in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code.
Tim Johnson, Policy Director at the CAA said:
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) supports the safe development of drones in the UK. Drones can bring economic and workplace safety benefits but to achieve those we need everyone flying a drone now to do so safely. We welcome plans to increase drone operator training, safety awareness and the creation of no-fly zones.
We have been working with Government and the aviation and drone industries to educate drone operators by successfully promoting the Dronecode , which provides an easy to follow guide to UK drone rules.
In October 2016, Uber experienced a data security incident that resulted in a breach of information related to rider and driver accounts. Rider information included the names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers related to accounts globally. Their outside forensics experts have not seen any indication that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were downloaded. When this happened, they said they took immediate steps to secure the data, shut down further unauthorized access, and strengthen our data security.
The company paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet.
Uber fired Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan for his role and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was not with the company at the time of the hack, said “none of this should have happened.”
The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that Uber could face an investigation and even potential fines up to £500,000 “We will be investigating but as regards what actions we eventually take, that depends on what we find, and obviously it’s very early days at this stage,” an ICO spokesperson said.
What Should You Do ?
Uber said they do not believe any individual rider needs to take any action. They have seen no evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident. They are monitoring the affected accounts and have flagged them for additional fraud protection. They encourage all users to regularly monitor their credit and accounts, including their Uber account, for any issues. Please let Uber know via the Help Center if you see anything unexpected or unusual related to your Uber account. You can do this by tapping “Help” in your app, then “Account and Payment Options” > “I have an unknown charge” > “I think my account has been hacked”.
Thousands of children across the UK are set to benefit from a new space education partnership between the UK Space Agency and UK ASDC – Destination Space 2.
Following on from the huge success of Association for Science and Discovery Centre’s (ASDC) Destination Space, which engaged over 730,000 children and adults with Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station, the UK Space Agency is supporting ASDC to create new space resources and to work with five UK science centres and museums to deliver space activities in 2018.
Destination Space is a national STEM programme created and run by ASDC and funded by the UK Space Agency. The first phase of this national programme ran from 2014 to 2017 and engaged, inspired and involved families with school-age children, school groups and teachers, and communities across the UK with the amazing stories, science and achievements of human spaceflight and Tim Peake’s Principia mission. Overall 733,017 children and adults took part in this ASDC programme in the first 15 months of delivery and many more continue to do so today.
This new six month programme builds on all this training, knowledge and enthusiasm for space science and exploration currently in science centres across the UK, and ensures delivery of this content continues well into the future. Specifically, this programme will focus on celebrating the science and engineering of the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the new Mars rover for the ExoMars mission, and will introduce satellite applications and the plans to enable space launches from the UK. It also will develop content more widely that can be used by multiple partners and ASDC in future projects around space science.
The programme will invite applications in January from the twenty Science and Discovery Centres and Museums around the UK that delivered Destination Space 1 – from Eden in Cornwall to the Scottish Science Centres, and from W5 in Belfast to the Science Museum in London. Five centres will be selected, and they will be trained in March to run this cutting-edge schools and families programme across 2018 and into the future.
This programme will be directed and managed by the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres who have considerable experience managing national strategic multi-partner science engagement programmes. The activities and events will be delivered in collaboration with science centres with expertise in engaging the public with space science, along with specialist expertise from researchers and UK Space Agency partners. This exciting new programme runs from 16 October 2017 until 31 March 2018.
Apple said on Friday that it’s delaying the launch of its HomePod smart speaker until next year.
The delay means Apple will miss the key Christmas shopping season in the fast-growing segment of connected speakers.
“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers,” Apple said in an emailed statement.
“We’ll start shipping in the US, UK and Australia in early 2018.”
Apple announced the device at its developer conference in June.
A global operation to provide satellite information when disasters strike, which the UK led on earlier this year, has received a major international award.
The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters received the 2017 William T. Pecora Award for providing satellite earth observations to help save lives worldwide.
The award, sponsored by the US Geological Survey and NASA, was presented yesterday (15 November) in South Dakota, United States.
The Charter is made up of 16 agencies, including the UK Space Agency, which led on the agreement between April and October this year, with Airbus responsible for coordination.
It provides images and other satellite information free of charge to emergency response agencies around the world, whenever major disasters strike.
Since the Charter was founded in 2000, response efforts include the tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand in 2004, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the earthquake in Nepal in 2015.
The project launched into action more recently, in September this year, as Hurricane Irma advanced across the Caribbean.
Speaking in the latest edition of Space UK, Remote Sensing Analyst Amalia Castro, who works at the Airbus offices in Guildford, explained:
“I was on call 24/7 for the whole week. I need to think which satellites will be best, what’s their resolution and prepare to task those satellites.”
“We had the potential for storms, floods, flash floods and landslides. I asked for data from 15 different satellites, from several different companies and agencies.”
Chris Lee, who leads the UK’s membership of the Charter for the UK Space Agency, added:
“I think that’s the great thing about the Charter. It’s the collection of all the available satellites from all around the world.”
The award comes as the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology highlights the use of satellite data for disaster risk reduction in its latest POST note: Environmental Earth Observation
You can find out more about the UK’s role in the Charter’s response to Hurricane Irma by reading the latest issue of Space UK.
During Data Economy’s inaugural forum The Edge of Tomorrow founding editor Joao Lima announced the publication’s plans to host four more forums covering the trends and disrupters set to shape the digital economy.
“It was clear from last night that the market is hungry for a very content focused forum which provides those attending with new insights of extremely relevant topics and issues set to transform the business of data centres, cloud and telecommunications,” said João Marques Lima, founding editor of Data Economy.
“We are extremely excited with our new events portfolio and the agenda for these four new forums will be announced in due time. At Data Economy we are not static. We evolve and adapt to both the market we cover and the feedback we received from our readers. We will continue to push the limits of what it is possible in this industry.”
The first forum took place in The Ham Yard Hotel in central London attracting leading authorities on edge computing with speakers from IBM, Accenture, Fujitsu, SSE Enterprise Telecoms, Vertiv and many more.
“The true scope and scale of edge computing was laid out for everyone to see. This is not just about speed anymore. This will fundamentally change the entire structure of the data economy,” remarked Matheu Spence, Head of Business Development at Data Economy.
“As João referenced in his opening remarks, we fast moving away from the zettabyte age and quickly moving into the exciting yottabyte era. The future is in the data economy.”
The Edge of Tomorrow was proudly supported by Patron sponsor EdgeConneX – whose chief innovation Officer Phill Lawson-Shanks delivered the evening’s opening keynote foregrounding the incontrovertible need for data centres at the edge.
Schneider Eclectic, Datacenter People & Aruba IT also partnered with the event helping to bring attention to ground-breaking capability of the edge computing.
Data Economy’s is targeting a worldwide elite of senior IT and operations professionals responsible for making critical infrastructure and business decisions that impact not only their business but the thousands of enterprises across the globe and the more than three billion internet users.
Visit the website at www.data-economy.com. You may also follow Data Economy on Twitter @dataeconomy, on Facebook @dataeconomytoday, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+.