It's been a dramatic year for UK tech fans. We've seen governments under scrutiny and our smartphones getting a much needed speed boost. Read on for the trends that defined our island nation's tech year.
The right to be forgotten
Should you be allowed to erase yourself from Google's search algorithms? Do online denizens have a 'right to be forgotten?' That's the question that's been dividing the UK, Europe -- and the rest of the world -- in 2014. In May of this year the European Court of Justicethat citizens have the right to be forgotten, and to petition Google or other online entities to remove or edit search results, if those results could infringe their privacy.
Google was none too pleased, calling the verdict "disappointing". A few months later the search giant revealed which countries made the most requests for search result changes. 12,000 came from the UK, referring to around 44,000 URLs. Google said that of requests made across Europe, 53 percent were delisted as asked.
2014 has also seen UK citizens getting increasingly irate at major tech companies' questionable tax practises. By running operations through the Republic of Ireland, where tax rates are significantly less than those in the UK, the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon have saved themselves heaps of cash.
In the wake of mounting pressure for change however, the structure of the tax haven is going to shift. In October Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonanthe 'Double Irish' tax loophole would be closed to new entrants in 2015, and phased out by 2020. Earlier this month big companies got an unwelcome advent surprise when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a .
"If a company conducts a lot of activity in the UK -- sales, for example -- but can avoid paying corporation tax by moving profits generated in the UK to other countries through the manipulation of the international tax rules," the UK Treasury said in a statement, "the UK will now be able to tax those profits at a rate of 25%."
Scottish Independence dominates Facebook
The question of whether Scotland would be waving goodbye to the rest of the United Kingdom was an enormous political issue facing the country this year, and the importance of Scotland's decision was reflected in our social activity.
Facebook has confirmed that the independence referendum was the biggest Facebook topic in the UK in 2014, with the five weeks leading up to the Yes/No vote seeing an eye-opening 10 million posts, comments and Likes on the subject. The vote even beat the almighty Ice Bucket Challenge for UK Facebook impact, with polling day on the 18 September seeing a whopping 3.3 million referendum-related interactions.
2014 saw the whole world thinking much harder about online abuse, particularly hate-filled messages and threats beamed over Facebook and Twitter. While it's not clear yet what the most effective solution to the shady practise of 'trolling' really is, the powers that be in the UK have suggested.
The amendment bill, which is still being debated, could see Internet trolls jailed for two years. "No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence," justice secretary Chris Grayling told The Mail on Sunday in October.
Isabella Sorley, jailed in January for sending abusive tweets to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, would go on to speak to pupils about her online abuse, the BBC wrote in November. Sorley reportedly told students, "Please just be careful what you do put on social media because what you write down, there's always a record."
4G booms as national roaming looms
2013 saw UK mobile operators finally get the nation's 4G networks up and running, but 2014 has seen the next-generation mobile tech becoming an accepted part of our tech life. Analyst firm CCS Insight in April declared that 4G is being adopted globally faster than any previous telecommunications technology, the same month that UK 4G network EE boasted it had lured 2.9 million customers to its speedier service. That figure hit 5.9 million in October.
Meanwhile UK culture secretary Sajid Javid is leading the charge for changes to the way UK networks operate. In a bid to squash so-called 'notspots', Javid wants all operators to be obliged to let customers roam onto other networks. So if you're a Vodafone customer in a no-signal zone, your phone could hop onto O2's network, for instance, in a system dubbed 'national roaming'.
While the idea of not losing signal seems like a no-brainer, a mobile expert speaking to CNET also noted that operators might be unwilling to upgrade their network technology if their rivals could also make use of it. Networks themselves, warning of battery life woes and problems with services like voicemail, while The Telegraph reported several weeks ago that EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are allegedly so desperate to avoid national roaming that they're offering to build new masts to cover 89 percent of Britain's landmass.
Black Friday chaos comes to the UK
It's a US post-Thanksgiving shopping tradition that this year made a big impact in Britain -- Black Friday, the fourth Thursday in November, and a chance to nab yourself discounted items from major retailers. If you don't mind gambling with your health and your dignity, that is. Police were called to four supermarkets in London, The Telegraph reports, as shoppers collectively lost their marbles over discounted items like TVs. The carnage was, of course, captured on film. Warning, the clips below feature strong language.
Meanwhile the UK was well represented on Twitter in 2014. According to the social network, British boyband One Direction member Harry Styles had the most-retweeted tweet, Wayne Rooney's World Cup equaliser goal against Uruguay was the UK's second most-tweeted event, while the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March was the most-discussed news event among UK Twitter users.