Apple’s European Headquarters Evacuated After Bomb Threat

Apple’s European headquarters in Cork, Ireland has been under a great deal of media scrutiny which revolves around the corporation tax rate. An investigation by the European Commission suggested Apple had incorrectly reported its financial earnings and could be hit with a fine costing up to $8 billion. Today, their headquarters was quickly evacuated after due to a potential security threat which posed a risk to employees. While, information regarding the incident is fairly unknown, Defence Forces told The Independent that explosive ordnance disposal teams were deployed just in case anything terrible occurred.

Once the building had been evacuated, employees had to wait outside for over two hours until they received the all clear. Apple eventually confirmed the evacuation and said it was a precautionary measure due to ‘threatening e-mails’ the company received. Thankfully, there was no harm done and the employees have safely returned to work. However, questions still remain about the hoaxer and their motives. Perhaps they just wanted to cause a scene or protest against Apple’s tax avoidance schemes. Whatever the case, it’s a very foolish move and once traced, could end up with a custodial sentence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the person in question is apprehended fairly quickly and brought in for questioning. At least for the employees, they only had to deal with a small inconvenience instead of something quite sinister. The world is on high alert in the midst of terrorist attacks and stupid pranks like this don’t help people to feel safe. This certainly isn’t going to be the last hoax of its kind, but the police and security services have to take each threat very seriously. It will be interesting to see if Apple changes their approach with taxation as more pressure is applied from the media and consumers.

https://twitter.com/JoeLeogue/status/689040331090841600/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Do you think Apple is employing far too many loopholes to avoid paying tax?

Apple CEO Tim Cook Refutes Tax Avoidance Claims

Apple has been accused of tax avoidance and exploiting loopholes in US legislation to move profits to tax havens. For example, Apple’s tax base is in Ireland with a 12.5% corporate rate while the US taxation figure is around 35%. As a result, some critics have argued this is a sophisticated way to either delay paying tax or reduce Apple’s bill. Recently, Tim Cook described the current US tax system in an interview with Charlie Rose on the programme 60 Minutes:

“This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”

Cook became quite aggravated and described the claims of tax avoidance as:

“total political crap.”

He also went onto say that moving the assets into the US would have severe financial implications:

“Because it would cost me 40% [in taxes] to bring it home. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do,”

Clearly, Tim Cook believes that the current US tax system is completely broken and in need for huge reforms. Not only that, he made bold statements about Apple’s behaviour and the amount of tax they put into the US economy:

“There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe,”

“We pay more taxes in this country than anyone.”

This is an interesting statement to make, and the idea that Apple pays a large amount of tax seems fairly credible. However, the amount paid is due to how successful Apple is compared to other companies. What really matters is the percentage of tax paid in regards to Apple’s total earnings. Are they actually paying the full amount, or employing complex schemes to maximize profits? Sadly, I don’t think we will ever know unless there is an independent investigation.

Image courtesy of newspaperplus.com

OCZ Announces Partnership with Currys PC World in the UK and Ireland

OCZ has announced a new partnership with Dixons Carphone for the resale of OCZ products at its Currys PC World stores. While there might be mixed feelings about the chain of stores, it’s great to be able to pick up drives such as the OCZ ARC 100 or Vertex 460 just around the corner. The OCZ SSDs will now be readily available for end users in the local retail markets in the United Kingdom, Scotland, and Ireland.

Currys PC World has more than 500 stores across the UK as well as their online presence, enabling a strong market potential for OCZ SSDs. Through Currys PC World, OCZ will now have a visible and clear customer offering for end users looking to add SSD features and performance as an upgrade, or into their new computer system.

Thanks to OCZ for providing us with this information

Microsoft Refuse to Give Emails Despite Court Order

Microsoft executives have obviously been listening to too much N.W.A (NSFW – some bad language) recently. Although ordered by the federal court, they are refusing to hand over overseas-held email data to the feds.

Microsoft have stated that they will continue to hold on to this information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process, until this happens it’s unlikely to see them budge.

On Friday they released a statement:

“Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal, everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen.” Windows IT Pro

Thus, the judge has ordered Microsoft and it’s prosecutors to advise her on the plan going ahead before next Friday, the 5th of September.

Stay tuned for further information.

Image courtesy of Creative Digital Group

Microsoft Ordered by Judge to Submit Customers Emails from Abroad

Microsoft Corp was ordered on Thursday by a U.S. government judge to turn over a customer’s email that is stored in a data center in Dublin, Ireland. The case has already drawn concern from privacy groups and major technology companies around the world.

Microsoft and other U.S. companies had challenged the original warrant, arguing it improperly extended the authority of federal prosecutors to seize customer information held in foreign countries.

District Judge Loretta Preska said after the 2 hour hearing in New York, that a search warrant approved by a federal magistrate judge required the company to hand over any data it controlled, regardless of where it was stored. “It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,”

The case seem to be the first in which a corporation has challenged a U.S. search warrant seeking data held abroad and the judge said she would temporarily suspend her order from taking effect to allow Microsoft to appeal her decision to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A number of technology companies came to Microsoft’s assistance and filed court briefs in support, including AT&T Inc, Apple Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

The companies are worried that they could lose billions of dollars in revenue to foreign competitors if customers fear their data is subject to seizure by U.S. investigators anywhere in the world. It is unclear which agency issued the warrant because the warrant and all related documents are sealed.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Microsoft

Apple Controversy Pushes Ireland To Alter Company Tax Laws

Apple make billions in profit every year and one would expect they would pay a sizeable amount of that in taxes, but they don’t, or at least no where near what they should. Apple use Ireland to lower their tax bills and by setting up a their company there they can take advantage of low tax rates, while also avoiding paying US taxes since the company is technically not a US tax resident, even though we all know Apple clearly operates out of the US.

Apple are not the only company to use this tax trick, but they’re the one catching all the headlines given their relative size and huge yearly profits. The Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan has promised to amend the country’s corporate tax laws, bringing peace to the controversy that surrounds US companies using the country to lower their tax bills.

“I will be bringing forward a change to ensure that Irish registered companies cannot be ‘stateless’ in terms of their place of tax residency. Ireland wants to be part of the solution to this global tax challenge, not part of the problem.” said Noonan at the 2014 budget in Dublin.

This isn’t the end of the issue of companies paying the right amount of tax in the correct country, but it certainly is a step in the right direction to stop major corporations from playing the system.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information.

Snowden’s Asylum Options: 1 Withdrawn 10 Rejected 10 Pending

According to reports by RT.com Snowden’s options for political asylum are rapidly evaporating. The NSA whistleblower has withdrawn his application for Asylum to Russia after they told him he could only have asylum if he stopped “damaging” the USA, a condition he was not prepared to agree to. Furthermore Finland, Brazil, Poland, India and Germany all rejected his asylum claim outright stating they were not willing to accept him. Spain, Norway, Italy, Ecuador and Austria also rejected Snowden’s asylum request on the grounds that he had to be already inside the country for it to be processed. These rejections bring the total numbers of rejections to 10, and with the single withdrawal, 11 of Snowden’s options have already been vaporised.

So what options are left for the NSA whistleblower? Well he still has Bolivia, China, Cuba, France, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Switzerland and Venezuela left to reply. Of those ten remaining options China says it is not aware of the request and France has denied ever receiving such an Asylum request and since they also recently blocked a Bolivian Jet from flying through their airspace because of suspicions that Edward Snowden was onboard it could easily turn out that France will reject the request too.

As of writing the most likely nations to accept seem to be Venezuela and Bolivia after they both expressed anti-USA sentiments and stated their willingness to protect Snowden.

Image courtesy of the Guardian

Snowden Releases List Of Countries Contacted For Political Asylum Requests

While it is now relatively common knowledge that the famous internet surveillance NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is stuck in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, it hasn’t been well documented where he was seeking political asylum up until now. We’ve known he has been in talks with Ecuador, but with that starting to unfold who else has he been trying to seek political asylum with? Well surprisingly his options aren’t as limited as you might think. According to an official statement made by the whistleblower organisation WikiLeaks Edward Snowden has applied for political asylum in the following nation-states:

  • Austria
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Cuba
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • The Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Russia (where he is situated now)
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Venezuela

Surprisingly, Ecuador is now off the list after President Correa seems to be bowing to American pressure. He has gone from pledging his support to Snowden at all costs to saying that he now offered Snowden help “by mistake”. It is also worth noting that Russia have also refused to offer Edward Snowden political asylum unless he stops releasing documents that are harming the USA.

Edward Snowden is currently seeking asylum on the grounds of persecution risk if he is forced to return back to the USA.

We will be sure to keep you updated with how this goes for Edward Snowden. He is easily becoming one of the most important figures of our generation.

Image courtesy of the Guardian

The Pirate Bay Will Be Blocked In Ireland Based On High Court Order

If you’ve crossed the border from Northern Ireland to Ireland in the past you would of found that Ireland’s ISPs didn’t block the Pirate Bay like Northern Ireland’s ISPs did . However, that is all about to change as the Irish High Court has today ruled that the Pirate Bay causes obvious harm to the music industry and must be blocked. This now means they join the UK in having High Court orders to blockade the World’s most famous file sharing site.

As always ISPs will be delighted to know that the duty to block the Pirate Bay falls on them at the behest of the Irish High Court. All major ISPs were involved in the lawsuit and now have to comply with the block within 30 days or face some severe disciplinary or legal actions. The initial case to block the Pirate Bay was brought forward by the Irish Recorded Music Association.

UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb, Hutchison 3G, and Telefonica O2 have all been given legal orders to block the Pirate Bay in the next 30 days. The court order applies to all domains and IPs used by the Pirate Bay. Proxy services will still work, but there has been a trend in recent times (particularly in the UK) for government authorities to start blocking proxies without making any notice or without any trial procedure taking place. That said I am sure within a few weeks of the blockade “pirate bay proxy” will rapidly become a very popular term on the Google Ireland search engine.

Image courtesy of the Pirate Bay