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In this week’s issue: Our Covid Tracker app is #1, The Curiosity Festival goes online, why we won’t be getting €13bn Apple Tax, Twitter got hacked, Anti-Vaxx and Covid, Privacy Shield, R/Relationships.
Ireland’s Covid Tracker App has been downloaded by about 1.3 million people. That means 26% of us have now downloaded the app, which is the highest of any country in the world. Go us! Second is Australia with 21%, according to this report.
The Curiosity Festival, Dublin’s International festival of science, arts, design & technology is online only this year. Lots of interesting items for people of all ages. Link.
Apple Tax. The EU General Court announced its ruling. This is a tax law story, not a tech one, so not in my area of expertise, but my my rough understanding is as follows:
Apple has two companies in Ireland, based in Cork. The Irish revenue commissioner viewed them as not tax resident here (but also not resident in the US) and only taxed them on the small amounts of profit that they made in Ireland. The European Commission believed that all of their European profits came through Ireland, so they should all be taxed here. A sum total of €13bn of Tax that should have been charged but wasn’t. The Commission says this means Ireland’s Revenue gave special treatment to Apple which it wouldn’t normally give to other companies (“state aid”).
The court ruling said that the Commission didn’t produce enough evidence that this was a sweetheart deal only applied to Apple. They didn’t show that the Cork offices controlled the Intellectual Property which was used to make massive profits, therefore didn’t prove that it should have been taxed here.
The Irish Revenue Commissioner doesn’t come out of the findings looking great – their process seems sloppy at best and secretive at worst – but the ruling again said that the Commission didn’t do enough to prove that errors made by Revenue were intentionally done to give Apple a unique advantage.
So the exceptionally small amount of tax paid by Apple on massive profits was not because of an illegal sweetheart deal, just as a result of the implementation of our general corporate tax policies. Hooray? Read more.
Twitter hacked. Twitter suffered a very large security breach on Wednesday. The details are still fuzzy, but it seems like hackers might have got access to a tool used by Twitter staff for accessing any account (or a staff member was involved). They used it to Tweet out a link to a money making scam from many high-profile accounts, including Joe Biden, Elon Musk and Barack Obama. It’s the kind of hack people have long worried about if, for example, hackers send out a tweet from Trump declaring nuclear war, or from the Indian PM announcing the invasion of Pakistan. In many ways they got off lightly with just a simple money scam. Read more.
Anti-Vaccination groups are gearing up for a disinformation war on any potential Covid vaccine. This report suggest that the top 3 groups in the US have 950,000 followers, and anti-vaxx groups in general have over 58 million followers on Facebook. We’ve seen how damaging it is to have people rejecting mask wearing, the challenge will be immense if they reject a vaccine too. Read more.
Privacy Shield is dead. One of the rules in GDPR is that companies cannot transfer the data of EU citizens to countries that don’t have adequate protections in place for that data. If the US govt can ask Twitter or Gmail to hand over an EU citizens data, is the US then considered an un-safe country for our data? After GDPR came into effect, a quick agreement was put in place between the EU and US to cover this, known as “Privacy Shield.” This was challenged in European courts and this week the European Court of Justice found that the US isn’t a good enough place to store EU data. This was a court case between Facebook Ireland, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and an Austrian citizen. As Digital Rights Ireland tweeted, this “will have profound impacts globally. Most immediately for Ireland, it will have an impact on Brexit negotiations and the transfer of data to the post-Brexit UK.” Link.
Reddit Relationship Stories are often bizarre and funny, and (not too surprisingly) often fake. This interview with the fake story writers reminds me of when I’d listen to the Adrian Kennedy phone show as a kid and my dad would tell me the crazy stories were just actors honing their skills. I feel now as I did then, that made up stories are just as much fun as the real ones. Read more.