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February 10, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 10:24pm

STEM, Snooper’s Charter and cybersecurity top the agenda in London Mayor tech debate

News: Goldsmith and Khan stay ahead of the pack as candidates respond to techUK and Tech London Advocates manifesto.

By James Nunns

London’s mayoral candidates went head-to-head last night as they discussed plans to make the capital a technology hub.

Zac Goldsmith for the Conservatives, Sadiq Khan from Labour, UKIP candidate Peter Whittle, Green Party candidate Sian Berry and Caroline Pidgeon from the Lib Dems were all present at the event hosted by Tech London Advocates and techUK.

The event kicked off with candidates talking about making as many people digitally literate as possible, before moving on to a better living, working and business environment for tech start-ups.

Cybersecurity was perhaps the lead topic at the event as the candidates responded to the manifesto’s call for the next mayor to work more closely with the private sector and the Met police in order to help make sure that companies and citizens are best equipped to deal with cyber threats.

Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative candidate, chose to focus on the prevention of online radicalisation, saying: "One problem the tech sector can really help to solve is dealing with the threat of terror."

Pidgeon followed in similar vein saying that it was vital for tech companies to work together with police on the issues of cybersecurity.

Other topics of discussion included Berry and Khan saying that they would work to increase the amount of open data made available by City Hall and its agencies.

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Whittle meanwhile said he would: "call for a STEM representative in every school to increase diversity and access to the skills London needs."

All of the candidates pledged to appoint a Chief Digital Officer and all were unsurprisingly eager to act on the recommendations of the manifesto.

Following the debate the five candidates were grilled with questions from the floor, which included members from London’s tech start-up scene and some established tech giants. The candidates were asked questions around the Snooper’s Charter, funding, diversity and sustainability.

Charlotte Holloway, associate director, techUK said: "If London is to stay ahead in 2020 and beyond, the next Mayor must embrace digital to transform London, not just to back our world-leading tech community but for the benefit of all Londoners."

CBR spoke to the candidates as well as major tech companies that are located in London to find out what they are looking for from the next Mayor of London.

Recommendations included working with the wider country to ensure that the whole of the UK can grow as a tech hub, while PwC focused on calling for detailed plans on how they will innovate in the area of driverless cars.

According to the polls Goldsmith and Khan are neck-and-neck in the mayoral race.

 

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