Two articles by computer security researcher Ross Anderson.
A UK that makes up 1% of world population and 3% of world GDP has little influence on IT markets; a post-Brexit Britain would have even less. Most software markets have been global for decades.
The EU has real clout though. From the viewpoint of Silicon Valley, Brussels is the world’s privacy regulator, since Washington doesn’t care and nobody else is big enough to matter.
Brussels also calls the shots on competition policy. The reason you get offered a randomised choice of default browser when switching on a new Windows PC in Europe is that the EU competition authorities insisted on it. This was punishment for Microsoft using its desktop monopoly to trash Netscape – which was an offence in the US too, but the Bush administration couldn’t be bothered to prosecute it.
If you want someone to police the side-effects of network effects and globalisation, the European Commission is just about the only sheriff in town.
But in the long term the biggest problem may not just be money.
Great universities thrive by drawing the best and the brightest from round the world, to be our students, to be our research staff, and to be our academics. Most of our new hires are foreign.
We already have a hard time competing with America for the best people. What will happen if Britain votes to leave Europe following a campaign of xenophobia – which has spilled over into outright racism?
This is not just about money; it's about who we are, and also about what other people perceive us to be.
Even if Remain wins on Thursday, we've all been damaged. If it goes the other way, the world may conclude that Britain is no longer the best place to send your kids, or to build one of your research labs.
Labels: Academia, EU, Politics, UK, University