Tech Digest daily roundup: Uber prices could rise by 20%


Uber has said it may soon have to start charging its UK customers VAT at 20%, after a High Court judgement, pushing up the cost of rides. It comes after a judge ruled that UK private hire taxi operators must make contracts with their customers. It could have far-reaching consequences for the industry and other private hire firms may also have to add VAT. It follows a separate judgement this year which found Uber drivers should be treated as workers not contractors. At the time, Lord Justice Leggatt suggested this ruling meant that a private hire operator such as Uber had to enter into a contract with its customers when it accepted a booking, rather than the passenger only having a contract with the driver of the vehicle. BBC


Engineered Arts, a UK-based designer and manufacturer of humanoid robots, recently showed off one of its most lifelike creations in a video posted on YouTube. The robot, called Ameca, is shown making a series of incredibly human-like facial expressions. At the start of the video, Ameca appears to “wake up,” as its face conveys a mix of confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes. But when Ameca starts looking at its hands and arms, the robot opens its mouth and raises its brows in what it looks like is amazement. The end of the video shows Ameca smiling and holding a welcoming hand out towards the viewer — if that’s how you want to interpret that gesture. The Verge

Brussels is preparing to force “gig economy” companies such as Deliveroo to give workers extra rights regardless of how their contracts are worded in a blow for one of Europe’s fastest-growing industries. The European Commission is expected to lay out draft rules on Wednesday that would presume millions of workers are employed no matter what their contracts say, according to sources. Concern over the proposals sparked a sharp fall in shares at companies which have thrived on the gig economy model, where self-employed workers are paid per trip to drive cabs or deliver groceries and takeaways. Deliveroo shares fell as much as 7pc before recovering some ground. Shares in its German rival Delivery Hero fell 6pc, as did Just Eat Takeaway. Telegraph 

WhatsApp has added new disappearing messages tools, as it looks to make conversations more private. The new options will allow people to turn on disappearing messages for all their chats at once, meaning that no conversations will stick around any longer than they need to. Users can also choose from a variety of options for how long messages should last. Previously, they were limited to seven days – but that can now be set at 24 hours or 90 days, after which the conversations will be destroyed. WhatsApp’s bosses have previously said that the aim is to have all messages delete themselves by default, in keeping with an aim to ensure that conversations can’t be spied on and are kept in the moment. Independent

Donald Trump’s social media company says it has agreements in place to raise $1bn from investors ahead of a US stock market listing. The Trump Media & Technology Group, which will be listed on the Nasdaq, plans to launch a new social media platform next year called Truth Social. The former US president has criticised Twitter and Facebook for banning him over concerns his social media activity incited the 6 January attack on the Capitol as rival Joe Biden’s election win was certified. Mr Trump had previously accused those platforms of censorship and political discrimination against conservatives, and repeated that accusation alongside the funding news. Following the ban, he launched the “From The Desk of Donald J. Trump” blog – initially describing it as a platform – but closed it down less than a month later. Sky News 


Chris Price
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