Boris Johnson summons top tech firms to Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with senior figures from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook on Wednesday evening to discuss the fight against fake news concerning the coronavirus.

Executives from the tech firms joined health secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Professor Chis Whitty, as well as the head of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens.

READ MORE: Amazon struggles to deliver items amid coronavirus panic buying frenzy

“Technology companies have been invited to Downing Street for a meeting this evening on ensuring the public has access to reliable information on coronavirus,” said a spokesman for Johnson at a Whitehall briefing.

“’They will talk about thinks like how to help inform the public around coronavirus and talk about things like modelling the spread of the disease, tracking its spread, those sorts of things,” he added.

“This is about acknowledging that there’s a wide variety of expertise available in the tech world and sitting down and seeing if there’s any way we can work together for the mutual benefit of the public,” explained the spokesperson.

The government revealed on Monday it has worked with Google, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so that official advice appears first when people hunt online.

The meeting comes after chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget on Wednesday detailed plans to offer a £30 billion fiscal stimulus, in a move that effectively ended austerity and supporting the country as it grapples with the coronavirus outbreak.

Sunak added that for the next financial year, he would take the “exceptional step” of abolishing business rates for small businesses with a rateable value below £51,000.

The Budget will also offer £2 billion of statutory sick pay rebates for 2 million small businesses with fewer than 250 employees in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

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