Featured Article : Microsoft Asks Hundreds Of Employees In China To Re-Locate

It’s been reported in Chinese state media that Microsoft has asked at least 100 employees to consider relocating to other countries.


It’s been reported that Microsoft has asked hundreds of its China-based employees, particularly those involved in cloud computing and AI, to consider relocating to other countries. It’s thought that this decision was prompted by escalating tensions between the United States and China, e.g. over technological advancements and trade issues, such as AI and semiconductors. Differing reports put the number that have been given the option to relocate between approximately 100 and 800 employees (mainly Chinese nationals). It’s also been reported that the employees only have less than one month to decide.

However, Microsoft appears keen to emphasise that offering internal transfer opportunities to employees is part of its standard global business management practice and is a regular part of managing its global operations.

Why Is This Move Potentially Significant? 

Bearing in mind the backdrop of increasing tensions between the United States and China, the relocation offers and the relatively short decision-making window for those affected could be seen by some as an indication that the company is planning to reduce its dependency on China. In doing so, it may be a way for Microsoft to mitigate the risks associated with geopolitical instability and trade conflicts, thereby helping it to maintain smooth operations and protect itself from any risks to its intellectual property, e.g. from potential regulatory challenges in China. Microsoft has reportedly said, however, that it remains committed to its presence in China


Reports indicate that Microsoft has suggested the United States, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand as countries the employees have the option to re-locate to.

New Tariffs Announced

The trade conflicts and tech war between the US and China that may be behind Microsoft’s employee relocation ideas don’t look like lessening any time soon. For example, the Biden administration has just imposed tariffs on around $18 billion worth of Chinese imports, including electric vehicles (EVs) and various other products in a measure to shield US industries from being undercut by cheaper Chinese imports, which are often subsidised by the Chinese government.

Also, last October, the Biden administration restricted the sale of certain semiconductors to China to limit China’s access to advanced technology critical for both commercial and military applications, thereby maintaining the US’s technological superiority and addressing national security concerns.

These and other trade restrictions could all be viewed as part of the ongoing tech war between the US and China, characterised by escalating competition in high-tech sectors like AI, 5G, and semiconductor manufacturing with the US becoming increasingly wary of China’s rapid technological advancements and their implications for global power dynamics.

Cyber Attack Protection For UK Politicians 

Meanwhile, 2024 is a major global election year for at least 64 countries including the US, UK, India, and South Africa. Here in the UK, this being the general election year, together with the threat of how AI (deepfakes) and email-based threats could be abused by adversaries, The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC – part of the GCHQ) has announced that it’s to provide “Personal Internet Protection” to politicians and high-profile individuals at risk from attack. The Chinese State (the Chinese Communist Party) is very likely to be one of the key states that the UK’s NCSC is offering protection from, especially since back in March, a Chinese state hacking group targeted the email accounts of over 40 UK parliamentarians that had spoken out against China or were members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

The type of protection to be offered as part of (opt-in) “Personal Internet Protection” will be alerting people if any malicious activity is detected on their email accounts or devices.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The decision by Microsoft to ask hundreds of its China-based employees, especially those in cloud computing and AI, to consider relocating to other countries is a notable development amidst rising US-China tensions. This move highlights the ongoing challenges multinational companies face in managing geopolitical risks. While Microsoft may frame these relocations as part of standard global business management, the context suggests a strategic shift aimed at reducing dependency on China and mitigating risks related to intellectual property and regulatory hurdles.

For UK businesses, the escalating trade and tech war between the US and China could have significant repercussions. Actions like the imposition of a new raft of tariffs on Chinese imports, restrictions on semiconductor sales to China, plus an economic decoupling between the US and China, are reshaping global supply chains and impacting multinational companies. For UK businesses, this decoupling could mean disruptions in supply chains and increased costs if they rely on components or products from China or the US. Also, as the tech war intensifies, UK companies may need to navigate a more fragmented global market, with different standards and regulations across regions.

The strategic shifts by companies like Microsoft, combined with the broader geopolitical landscape, underscore the need for UK businesses to diversify their supply chains and remain agile. Understanding and preparing for potential regulatory changes and trade barriers will be crucial. Additionally, businesses should monitor developments closely and consider the implications of these geopolitical tensions on their operations and strategic planning.

Broadly speaking, the US-China tech war and associated economic decoupling (of which Microsoft’s latest move may be a symptom) present both challenges and opportunities for UK businesses. By staying informed and proactive, UK businesses can better navigate this complex environment, ensuring resilience and competitiveness in an increasingly divided global economy.

As for UK politics, it remains to be seen how effective “Personal Internet Protection” will be against determined state-sponsored hackers with huge resources at their disposal, especially if it’s simply an opt-in protection scheme.

Tech Insight : Tasty Offering : Raspberry Pi

With Raspberry Pi Ltd considering an Initial Public Offering, we look at what this kind of computer is, its value in promoting computer literacy, and what similar alternatives there are.

Raspberry Pi 

Raspberry Pi, the most well-known Pi, is a series of small, affordable, single-board computers (SBCs) developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the United Kingdom. It is a leader in low-cost, high-performance computing that has now been around for some time. For example, the first Raspberry Pi was introduced on 29 February 2012 and several models featuring improvements in performance, memory, and connectivity options have been introduced since then. The different models cater to a variety of user needs, from the basic Model A and A+ to the more advanced Model B and B+ series, and the high-performance Raspberry Pi 4.

Who Is It For? 

The primary goal of the Raspberry Pi project is to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and developing countries. Also, as Eben Upton, CEO of Raspberry Pi points out, it was designed to be “affordable enough for young people to own and explore with confidence”. 

Raspberry Pi is actually a subsidiary of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, which is a UK charity (founded in 2008), with the goal of promoting interest in computer science among young people.

Large Community 

Raspberry Pi products (which are available in over 70 countries) actually enjoy a great deal of community support as they are backed by a large, active community of users and developers who share projects, tutorials, and software, facilitating learning and problem-solving.


Raspberry Pi says its products are actually sold in three principal markets: the Industrial and Embedded market, which in 2023 accounted for 72 per cent of unit sales, the Enthusiast and Education market, which in 2023 accounted for 28 per cent of unit sales, and the semiconductor market, which Raspberry Pi entered in early 2021 with the launch of its first semiconductor product ( the RP2040 microcontroller).

Raspberry Pi Vs Traditional Computers – What Are The Differences?

The main differences between a Raspberry Pi and other traditional desktop and laptop computers are:

– Size and form. They are significantly smaller (often credit card-sized), making them ideal for space-limited projects.

– It’s much more affordable – ranging from £4 to £35, making it accessible to students and hobbyists.

– The difference in hardware. For example, it comes as a bare circuit board, requiring users to connect their own peripherals like keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

– The operating system. It typically runs a Linux-based OS, with Raspberry Pi OS being the most common, unlike the Windows or macOS on traditional computers.

– The GPIO pins, i.e. it features General-Purpose Input/Output pins for connecting and controlling external hardware like sensors and motors, ideal for DIY projects and hardware programming.

– Much lower power consumption, making it suitable for always-on or power-sensitive projects.

– Community and resources. As mentioned above, it’s supported by a large, active community.

Why Is It In The News? 

Raspberry Pi Ltd is in the news at the moment because it is considering an Initial Public Offering – it has announced its expected intention to float on the London Stock Exchange. Raspberry Pi has a strong track record of revenue growth and profitability and for the year ended 31 December 2023, revenues were $265.8 million. Although a valuation for the company hasn’t been officially announced, it’s been rumoured that £300 million+ doesn’t seem too unlikely.

Also, Raspberry Pi has made the news recently because:

– It has unveiled several new products, such as an AI camera kit featuring a 12MP Sony IMX500 sensor, a new 15.6-inch monitor with HDMI connectivity, and the long-awaited M.2 HAT for fast NVMe storage on the Raspberry Pi 5.

– The Raspberry Pi Foundation has significantly increased production of Raspberry Pi 5 units, with the goal of manufacturing up to 90,000 boards per week.

– A new Compute Module 5 (CM5) looks likely to launch soon.


Raspberry Pi is, however, not the only single-board computer or microcontroller out there, and these alternatives are typically aimed at (and used by) a variety of audiences, each with different applications in mind. Here are a few of the most popular SBC alternatives to Raspberry Pi:

– Arduino. While not a direct competitor, Arduino boards are widely used in electronics projects and prototyping. Unlike the Raspberry Pi, Arduino is a microcontroller rather than a full computer. Models include the Arduino Uno, Arduino Mega, and Arduino Nano.

– BeagleBone. BeagleBone boards are powerful single-board computers similar to the Raspberry Pi but often offer more I/O options and are used for more advanced projects. Models include the BeagleBone Black, and BeagleBone Green.

– Odroid. These boards are known for their high performance and are suitable for applications requiring more computing power. Popular models include the Odroid XU4, Odroid C2, and the Odroid N2+.

– Banana Pi. These boards are similar to Raspberry Pi in form factor and functionality but often come with additional features like more RAM or better network connectivity. Models include the Banana Pi M4, and Banana Pi M2 Zero.

– Rock Pi boards offer high performance and are compatible with a range of operating systems, including Linux and Android. Popular models include the Rock Pi 4, and Rock Pi X.

– NanoPi. These boards are compact and affordable, catering to various applications from simple projects to more complex IoT solutions. Models include the NanoPi M4, and NanoPi Neo4.

– Orange Pi. These boards are regarded as being versatile and budget-friendly and can be used for a range of applications similar to the Raspberry Pi. Popular models include the Orange Pi Zero, and Orange Pi PC.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The advancements in single-board computers (SBCs) like Raspberry Pi, along with similar devices (e.g. Orange Pi, Arduino, BeagleBone, and Odroid) are transforming the landscape for UK businesses across various sectors. These versatile and affordable tools offer significant value to different user groups, driving innovation and efficiency in multiple domains.

For educational institutions, for example, these devices provide an excellent platform for teaching computer science and STEM subjects. By incorporating SBCs into the curriculum, schools and universities can offer hands-on learning experiences that enhance students’ technical skills and creativity. This not only prepares students for future careers in technology but also fosters a culture of innovation from a young age.

In the realm of development and engineering, businesses can leverage the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of SBCs for rapid prototyping and product development. Whether it’s a startup developing new IoT solutions or an established company refining its automation processes, these devices enable quick iterations and testing at a fraction of the cost of traditional development platforms. The extensive community support and resources available for these devices further facilitate innovation and problem-solving.

Industrial applications also benefit significantly from the deployment of SBCs. For example, the robustness and adaptability of these devices make them ideal for creating custom automation systems, enhancing operational efficiency, and reducing costs. Businesses can implement tailored solutions for monitoring, control, and data analysis, improving productivity and decision-making processes.

The potential flotation of Raspberry Pi and the growth of its competitors like Arduino and BeagleBone could bring significant changes to the market. Increased capital from public offerings would enable these companies to accelerate their innovation cycles, enhance their product offerings, and expand their market reach. This competitive environment could lead to more advanced, cost-effective solutions, benefiting consumers and businesses alike.

For businesses considering the adoption of SBCs, the stability and growth prospects of these companies are likely to mean continued support and development for their platforms. This assurance can encourage more extensive integration of these devices into business operations, knowing that they are backed by financially robust and innovative companies. Moreover, the diverse ecosystem of SBCs ensures that businesses can choose the most suitable device for their specific needs, whether it’s for educational purposes, development, or industrial applications.

Tech News : UK Company Scammed $25 Million Via Deepfakes

It’s been reported that an employee at London-based design and engineering multinational, Arup, was duped by a deepfake video call into paying a staggering $25.6 million to fraudsters.

What Happened? 

According to reports published on CNN, back in January, a finance employee in Arup’s Hong Kong office received what they suspected was a phishing email, purporting to be from the company’s UK office, because it requested a secret transaction.

The employee then reportedly took part in a video call with people who looked and sounded like senior staff members (including the CFO) but who were in fact deepfakes! It’s been reported that this deepfake video call led to the employee putting aside previous doubts and subsequently agreeing to transfer 200 million Hong Kong dollars / $25.6 million via 15 separate transactions.

The fraud was reportedly only discovered following the employee making an official inquiry with the company’s headquarters, which resulted in a police investigation.


A spokesperson from Arup (the company behind world-famous buildings such as Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House and the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing) has been reported as saying that whilst they can’t go into details, they “can confirm that fake voices and images were used”.

Financial Stability Not Affected 

Despite $25 million going astray and the initial suspected phishing email, Arup’s reported email statement said: “Our financial stability and business operations were not affected and none of our internal systems were compromised.” 

Many Deepfake Scams 

There have been many high-profile and large-scale deepfake scams in recent years, including:

– In 2023, a deepfake video scam of consumer champion Martin Lewis was circulated on social media to trick people into investing in something called ‘Quantum AI’ (an app) which scammers claimed was Elon Musk’s new project.

– In 2022, the chief communications officer at the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, claimed that a deepfake AI hologram of him (made from video footage of interviews and TV appearances) had been used on a Zoom call to scam another business, leading to significant financial losses.

– In 2020, a branch manager of a Japanese company in Hong Kong received an AI deepfake call that sounded like the Director, but was actually from fraudsters. The call used an AI to mimic the CEO’s voice to instruct a bank manager to engage with a fictional lawyer, which then led to the authorisation and transfer of $35 million to fraudulent accounts.

– In 2019, an energy company in the UK was defrauded of €220,000 ($243,000) through a deepfake audio scam. The fraudsters used AI-generated voice technology to impersonate the CEO of the firm’s parent company, instructing a senior executive to transfer funds to a Hungarian supplier.

More Sophisticated Attacks 

Following the recent scamming of Arup, Rob Greig (Arup’s global chief information officer) has been reported as saying : “Like many other businesses around the globe, our operations are subject to regular attacks, including invoice fraud, phishing scams, WhatsApp voice spoofing, and deepfakes.” He noted that “the number and sophistication of these attacks has been rising sharply in recent months”. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

This massive $25 million deepfake scam involving Arup is a reminder of the growing sophistication and severity of digital fraud. Sadly, this incident is not an isolated case but part of a broader trend of increasingly advanced scams leveraging AI. The rapid advancements in AI technology and its wide availability have made it easier for fraudsters to create highly convincing deepfake videos and audio, posing significant risks to businesses of all sizes.

For UK businesses, this incident is a reminder of the urgent need to enhance security measures and verification processes. Traditional methods of authentication, such as emails and video calls, can no longer be solely relied upon. Instead, businesses may want to adopt multi-layered security strategies that include advanced AI-based detection tools, biometric verification, and identity verification protocols. Regular training and awareness programmes for employees may also now be essential to help them recognise and respond to potential threats.

This incident also highlights the critical role of law enforcement and regulatory bodies in combating digital fraud. Enhanced cooperation and information sharing between businesses, cybersecurity experts, and law enforcement agencies are vital to staying ahead of these sophisticated attacks. Implementing stricter regulations on the use and dissemination of AI technology and ensuring that companies have access to the latest detection and prevention tools will be crucial steps in this battle.

The Arup scam demonstrates that even technologically savvy industries are not immune to the threats posed by deepfakes.

Tech News : Booking.com Becomes “Gatekeeper”

Online travel marketplace, Booking.com, has been designated a ‘gatekeeper’ company by the EU under its new Digital Markets Act (DMA) competition law, meaning that Booking.com now has six months to comply.


Under the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), ‘gatekeepers’ are large digital platforms that play a pivotal role in the digital economy. They are judged as acting as intermediaries between businesses and users, i.e. controlling key ‘gateways’ through which businesses reach consumers. The DMA, which is aimed at tackling monopolising practices and ensuring fair and open digital markets, sets specific criteria to identify these gatekeepers and imposes obligations and prohibitions on them to prevent anti-competitive practices.

Why Booking.com? 

According to the DMA rules, ‘gatekeepers’ are companies within the EU with more than 45 million monthly end users, more than 10,000 business users per year, and a market cap of at least €75bn.

It seems, therefore, that following a self-assessment (submitted on March 1), the EC has decided that the Booking.com travel platform meets the DMA thresholds and, therefore, is now considered to be an “important gateway between businesses and consumers.” 

Thierry Bretton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, has been reported as saying: “Booking is an important player in the European tourism ecosystem and is now also a designated gatekeeper.” 

What Does This Mean For Booking.com? 

As a gatekeeper, Booking.com now faces specific obligations under the DMA to ensure fair competition and prevent anti-competitive practices. These include:

– Data usage restrictions. Booking.com cannot, for example, use data from business users (e.g. hotels) to compete against them.

– Interoperability. It must allow third parties to interoperate with its services, providing necessary technical access.

– Advertising transparency. Booking.com must offer advertisers and publishers access to performance measurement tools for independent ad verification.

– An anti-tying and bundling obligation means no additional services as a condition for accessing its platform.

– Access to data. Booking.com must provide business users with access to the data they generate on the platform.

– Fair treatment. The company can’t favour its own services or products in search rankings over third-party offerings.

Practical Implications 

There are also some practical implications for Booking.com, including:

– Operational adjustments which include significant changes to internal operations, data management, and platform functionalities.

– Increased transparency, e.g. enhanced transparency in ranking, data usage, and advertising charges.

– Additional legal, administrative, and technological expenses to ensure compliance.

– A change to its competitive landscape as the restrictions under the DMA may reduce competitive advantages, levelling the playing field for smaller competitors.

– Increased regulatory scrutiny such as monitoring plus potential penalties from the European Commission for non-compliance.

What Happens If It Doesn’t Comply? 

Booking.com now has 6 months to comply but if it doesn’t, it could be facing eye-watering fines of up to 10 per cent of its total worldwide annual turnover, increasing to 20 per cent for repeat offences. Also, it could face periodic penalties up to 5 per cent of its average daily turnover for specific non-compliance issues. To put this in perspective, Booking.com (as part of Booking Holdings) reported a total worldwide turnover of $21.3 billion in 2023.

It’s understood that Booking.com and other gatekeepers have already started implementing measures to comply with their gatekeeper obligations under the DMA and are required to submit detailed compliance reports to the European Commission. However, other companies, like ByteDance (TikTok’s owner) and Meta, have contested their gatekeeper designations

Who Are The Other Gatekeepers? 

In addition to the aforementioned ByteDance, Meta, and now Booking.com, other well-known gatekeepers include (not surprisingly) Alphabet (Google), Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Following X’s claim (submitted on 1 March 2024) that, despite meeting the thresholds, it doesn’t qualify as an important gateway between businesses and consumers, it’s understood that the European Commission has opened a market investigation to further assess X’s rebuttal.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The designation of Booking.com as a gatekeeper under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) represents another significant shift in the regulatory landscape for large digital platforms. For Booking.com, this means it must adhere to stringent new rules aimed at ensuring fair competition and preventing the misuse of its market power. This could, however, involve substantial operational adjustments.

For competitors and markets, the DMA’s enforcement may lead to a more balanced competitive environment. Smaller businesses/competitors and new entrants may, for example, find it easier to compete if the ‘gatekeepers’ like Booking.com are restricted from engaging in the many possible anti-competitive practices, e.g. data misuse and unfair bundling of services. This could, of course, foster greater innovation and diversity in the market, as barriers to entry are lowered and smaller companies gain more opportunities to attract customers.

Consumers are also likely to benefit from the DMA’s regulations. For example, with increased transparency in how services are ranked and advertised, they may be able to make more informed choices. The DMA’s requirement for fair treatment and data access may mean that consumers see a wider variety of options and potentially lower prices as competition increases. Also, enhanced data protection measures could help safeguard consumer information, addressing privacy concerns that have become increasingly prominent in the digital age.

Overall, the implementation of the DMA and the compliance efforts by gatekeepers like Booking.com may signal a transformative period for digital markets. UK businesses operating within these markets should prepare for changes in competitive dynamics and be ready to leverage new opportunities that arise from a potentially more equitable digital ecosystem.

An Apple Byte : iPhone Bluetooth Stalking Warning

Apple says it has worked with Google to create an industry specification that can alert users across both iOS and Android if a Bluetooth tracking device is being used to track them (also known as Bluetooth Stalking).

The new capability, which is being implemented in Apple’s new iOS 17.5 (and on Android 6.0+ devices) will deliver an “[Item] Found Moving With You” alert on those devices if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them over time, regardless of the platform the device is paired with.

Apple says this will “help mitigate the misuse of devices designed to help keep track of belongings.” For example, if a user receives the alert on their iOS device, it means that someone else’s AirTag, Find My accessory, or other industry specification-compatible Bluetooth tracker is moving with them.

Security Stop Press : Insurance Industry and Security Coalition To Tackle Ransomware

Three major UK insurance associations have united in a coalition with GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to help reduce ransom payments made by victims of cybercrime.

The Unprecedented cross-sector coalition is comprised of the NCSC and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and the International Underwriting Association (IUA).

With Ransomware being the biggest day-to-day cyber security threat to UK organisations, the coalition, working closely with the NCSC, has developed a set of guidelines and a frameworks for a broad range of stakeholders including insurance providers, businesses, and cyber security professionals, aimed at reducing the frequency and impact of ransomware attacks.

NCSC CEO Felicity Oswald said: “It’s really encouraging to see all corners of the insurance industry unite to support victim organisations with guidance that will help them to better understand their options and reduce harm and disruption to their businesses.”

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