THE UK has been “too lax” over rules around new technology and national security, a former tech boss has said.
Sir Hossein Yassaie, former chief executive officer of chip design firm Imagination Technologies, made the claim yesterday as he appeared before a Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry.
The cross-party committee is probing the Foreign Office’s role in blocking asset stripping of British firms by overseas-based owners.
Yassaie, who left Imagination Technologies in 2016, has raised national security concerns over its new owner, a Chinese-backed investor with ties to authorities in Beijing.
He says its customers “expect adequate independence, security of supply and trust in the organisation” and suggests its tech is at risk of being seized amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Yesterday told MPs that UK authorities must better understand emerging technology and what it could be used for.
He said the regulations around tech and national security have been “too lax” and Government must “look really deeply” into the implications of each new advance and consider “what happens is the ownership changes” at UK companies.
The Iran-born businessman said he is “not a defence expert”. However, he said industrial strategy and national security should be considered when possible overseas takeovers emerge.
When asked about how to prevent the sale of such firms to foreign buyers, he responded: “Companies that are global tend to achieve global presence and global customers and grow. Companies that are more local-centric need to be more supported with the ability to do local business.
“I always would like to see the NHS be a customer of many or our businesses.”
Calling for a sovereign fund to support new businesses, Yassaie said legislation should be “modernised” to take in “really sensitive technology” and the “complexity and the power it has”.