Apple has been ordered to pay £11bn in unpaid taxes to the Irish Government after the European Commission ruled that it had received illegal state aid. The company has been under investigation for two years by the EU, in the latest effort to clamp down on alleged tax avoidance by US multinationals.
The commission said a ‘sweetheart’ deal between Apple and Ireland was anti-competitive, allowing the company to pay a tax rate as low as 0.005% on its European profits for more than a decade. Apple records much of its worldwide sales in Ireland, and has built up a colossal cash pile it is yet to bring back to the US. The total amount Apple may have to pay will depend on how the ruling is actually enforced.
The ruling, which both Apple and the Irish state are likely to appeal, will also raise anger in Washington, which believes Brussels has unfairly targeted American companies.
www.telegraph.co.uk (30th August 2016)
A lawnmower has been blamed for wrongly triggering sensors that predict when the Northern Lights will be visible in the UK! A red alert issued via the Aurora Watch mailing list was withdrawn after sensor readings were found to be ‘spurious’. Investigations revealed that a lawnmower had got too close to one sensor – causing a massive spike in the data.
Aurora Watch, which is run by scientists at the University of Lancaster and takes readings from lots of magnetometers to work out when the auroa borealis will be visible across Britain, said they would be taking steps to ensure this did not happen again.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (25th August 2016)
Apple has been accused of failing to correct a ‘design flaw’ which is said to be causing many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets’ screens to flicker and become unresponsive to touch. Repair specialist iFixit suggested that two chips were to blame and ran the risk of detaching from a circuit board over time.
Newer iPhone 6S and 6S Plus phones are said not to be prone to the fault because the same two chips are connected to a different component in these models.
Neil Mawston, from Strategy Analytics, said ‘there doesn’t seem to be any quantification about precisely what percentage of iPhone have been affected, so it’s difficult to tell if this is a minor or major problem. Apple customers pay a premium for their iPhones, and they expect premium after-sales service.’
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (24th August 2016)
BBC iPlayer users in the UK will need a valid licence to use the service from the 1st September, even if they don’t have a TV and watch only online via a laptop or mobile. The changes were introduced in the BBC’s white paper in May.
While non-TV owning viewers now need to have a licence to watch streaming or downloaded shows, the licensing changes have left some loopholes – mainly you don’t need a licence to watch other on-demand services like Netflix or other terrestrial broadcasters’ digital platforms, like ITV Player. There is also the potential of extenuating circumstances for students that don’t want to shell out on a licence – as long as the device you’re watching on is powered by internal batteries and not plugged into the mains when using iPlayer, you don’t need a separate licence – the one at your parents will cover you.
The BBC has also suggested that the licence fee could become more portable, allowing people who have to watch content while abroad on holiday.
www.wired.co.uk (2nd August 2016)