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09.16.11

Why Public and Private Records Keeping Systems Should Use Free Software.

Posted in Action, America, Antitrust, Database, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Identity Management, Law at 10:10 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Institutions which value their customer’s privacy should only use free software for their day to day business and record keeping. The rapacious behavior of banks, insurance companies and marketing firms has received a great deal of attention, and sane countries are making data privacy laws but the issue of non free software is seldom raised. Medical records are a particularly sensitive area where morals and ethics should trump profit. Ethical medical practitioners know that the records they create belong to the patient and that those records must be guarded and only surrendered to the patient or other health care professionals serving the patient. Bankers, insurance companies and other companies should be forced by law to abide by similar rules but no one can actually comply if they use propitiatory software which hides operations from users.

The US is in the midst of an insurance industry push towards electronic medical records. Tax breaks and other incentives have been offered to doctors who make the move to electronic records keeping. This will be good if adequate protections are in place.

The privacy of electronic records is supposed to be protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, but there are obvious and gaping problems. Frequently raised concerns include nosy clerks especially at satellite institutions like pharmacies, unauthorized remote intrusion, court orders and a lack of action by regulators who take complaints. Mostly overlooked is the fact that software owners like Microsoft will have unfettered access to any medical record that any Windows system has access to. Google recently proved that Microsoft was spying on ordinary users, so the threat is no longer a theoretical matter of the company exercising the broad rights to snoop they gave themselves in their EULAs a decade ago [2] with or without your permission.

Every business and government office that uses non free software should realize this threat and end it by migrating to free software. Moving to free software won’t protect institutions from malicious clerks and other commonly mentioned problems but it is the only solution to unauthorized access to records by software owners. That access and power is at the heart of the bad deal propitiatory software has always offered but is exposed in an ugly way when all of our records are electronic and computers must be on a network to be considered useful.

Businesses that do not move out of customer and self interest should be forced by law. Customers and citizens concerned about their privacy should be protected. Because no such privacy can be guaranteed by propitiatory software, no propitiatory software should be allowed to operate on customer business records. Only software with the four software freedoms should be allowed.

Cablegate: Lord Mandelson Meets the Qaddafi Family and Dates the Copyright Lobby

Posted in Cablegate, Europe at 6:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Leila Deen and Lord Mandelson
“Business secretary Peter Mandelson is slimed by an environmental protestor outside the Royal Society on Carlton House Terrace, Pall Mall after allegations of ‘favours for friends’ over the Heathrow third runway decision” [Courtesy of "Plane Stupid", via Wikimedia]

Summary: Diplomatic cables mention the acts of Lord Mandelson; we look at those of greater relevance to Techrights

According to the following Cablegate cables, “a recent meeting between Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam” took place just 2 years ago (first cable below, dated 24 Aug 2009). For those who lack some context, Peter Mandelson tends to meet Hollywood billionaires and then pass unwanted laws that make those billionaires richer and everyone else furious, especially but not exclusively in the UK. Our technology rights have been eroded almost single-handedly by this man, who summoned harmful digital/technical policies in the UK during his reign. These policies are exceptionally hard to retract now, so we are stuck with an atrocious legacy of Internet spying and potentially disconnection.

We at Techrights decided to see what happens behind the scenes. We tried to find cables on it. Almost 200 Cablegate cables mention “Mandelson” and several are about the policies above. There is one cable about copyright and “IPR”. In relation to China and WTO rules, ¶7 in the second cable below says: “Tanaka explained that METI sees some progress in its dealings with the Chinese government. In recent talks with Chinese Supreme People’s Court and the Procuratorate, the GOJ raised the issue of thresholds and the Chinese acknowledged that the issue is a problem of IPR enforcement. However, the Chinese officials claimed that the issue is not just a matter of law, but more a social problem which needed to be dealt with through public education. Harsh laws would not work, they said, citing a story about the failure of an ancient Chinese emperor which was repeated by other Chinese officials, also. Tanaka pointed out that now the National People’s Congress also wants to insert itself into the discussion and has declared that the Chinese government must consult it when determining the interpretation of its laws.”

“Tanaka asked about the EU’s position on the case and McCoy replied that the EU is studying the issue, and that the final decision will probably be a political decision taken by EU Trade chief Peter Mandelson.”

There is something else which is interesting here.because once again we see Japanese officials pressuring China to change its laws. There are other cables that show this

Another cable (third one below) states in its first paragraph:.”Embassy delivered reftel talking points to Knut Bruenjes, Deputy Director General for Trade Policy, at the Ministry of Economics and Technology, August 11, 2006. Bruenjes said German officials are aware of the seriousness of the IPR violations involving trademarks and copyrights occurring in China, but would prefer to pursue a dialogue with China before seeking consultations at the WTO. He said Germany supported EU Trade Commissioner Mandelson’s timeline for dialogue with China on IPR issues until roughly the end of 2006. He said Germany would urge the Commission to prepare for the likelihood it would have to seek recourse in the WTO after Mandelson’s timeline expires. Bruenjes agreed to put this issue on the EU’s 133 Trade Committee’s agenda in the next few weeks.”

When it comes to Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill and encounter with Geffen, we were empty-handed (maybe the cables do not go back far enough in time, “Digital Economy Bill” yields zero results/matches), but below are some of the more prominent 14 cables that mention Lord Mandelson. Some of these are interesting reading material in general.

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 16/9/2011: Boeing Goes With Android, Oracle Splits MySQL

Posted in News Roundup at 4:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • A Bushel of Tools for Business and Personal Financial Management

    While they don’t get written about as frequently as other types of open source applications, there actually are many good FOSS applications for business and personal financial management. Historically, some of the best ones have been targeted at computer users, but with the rise of mobile applications, you can get your hands on many good financial apps that you can keep in your pocket. Here is a grab bag of good resources on this front, and you should find some applications here that can help you manage your money.

  • Tools to Help You Nurture Your Open Source Project

    If you’ve given some thought to launching an open source project, or you’re in the process of delivering one, some up-front footwork and howework can help things go smoothly, and even keep you out of trouble. Issues pertaining to licensing, distribution, support options and even branding require thinking ahead if you want your project to flourish, and to stay safe. Fortunately, there are many free, helpful resources that can help you ramp your project up. In this post, you’ll find our updated collection of good, free resources to pay attention to.

  • Open source tool enables security tests for chip cards

    At this year’s Black Hat Conference, crypto expert Karsten Nohl of SRLabs demonstrated the degate tool that can be used to take a closer look at applications stored on smartcards, such as credit cards and SIM cards.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla co-founder quits Firefox veep role

      A longtime Mozilla Corporation VP has quit the open source outfit he co-founded in 1998.

      Mike Shaver, who oversaw technical strategy for the past six years at the Firefox maker, confirmed he was hanging up his hot foxy boots in a blog post. Shaver was among those who founded the Mozilla Organization following the release of Netscape’s web browser source code.

  • SaaS

    • Memset takes open source to cloud storage market

      Memset has drawn specific attention to its added security features – knowing full well it is still the issue holding many customers back from putting their data into the public cloud – as well as touting its simplicity.

  • Databases

    • Oracle adds commercial extensions to MySQL

      Oracle has announced the availability of commercial extensions for the MySQL database. These new extensions are only being added to the Enterprise Edition and will further differentiate the commercial edition from the community edition. Previously, the Enterprise Edition only included external tools, MySQL Enterprise Monitor and MySQL Enterprise Backup, as part of its package, but the new extensions are much more deeply integral to MySQL.

  • CMS

  • Business

    • Free Software versus Open Source: Tryton vs OpenERP

      When I talk about Free Software, I talk about not only about freedom, but also community and good will from the software author. The latter probably is the most important one.

      You write Free Software because you want to contribute to the community. It’s an act of social activism. It’s about sharing and helping out.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 9.0 on its Way

      PC-BSD is the Ubuntu of the free BSD world. It features an easy install (similar to Anaconda), with a nice default system, and usually gives no reason to fiddle under the bonnet. Version 9.0 is currently in development and Beta 2 was recently released.

  • Project Releases

    • Omaha 3: Updating Google style

      Google’s latest update to its Omaha update system, also known as Google Update, brings a range of enhancements to the open source background update engine. Google introduced its update mechanism for Windows applications, code-named Omaha, in 2007 and, in 2009, the technology became freely available as open source code under the Apache licence. The company has been modernising the update engine and has now made version 3 of Omaha available at Google Code.

  • Licensing

    • Spring Roo to be up to 10 times faster and without GPL

      A completely different change concerns the licensing for Spring Roo. Up until now, a large part of the code has been under GPLv3, which is controversial among some members of the community; annotations and associated code are under a mixture of GPLv3 and Apache Software Licence version 2 (ASLv2). In the future, Spring Roo will completely be under ASLv2 in order to make the development environment more interesting for commercial projects as well.

    • How NOT to Push a New Open Source License, Part 2

      To those who whine “I don’t want Google/Microsoft/Apple/whoever to use my code!” — why not? Really, if you think they’re evil because they close off code, how are you any better by doing the same to them? (plus, whining is for kids). “But it conflicts with our anti-copyright anti-business agenda.” Put down the bong, grab a bar of soap, and stop acting like a freetard. You’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open-source policy formulation for Sri Lanka’s capital
    • Qualcomm goes open source with AllJoyn

      Qualcomm’s desire to drive the Internet of Things starts with a little-known open-source project called AllJoyn, and it could easily prove one of the most important things the company has ever done. We got talking to Rob Chandhok, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of software strategy and the president of the Qualcomm Innovation Centre, to find out what’s going on.

    • Open Hardware

      • A brief introduction to Arduino

        If you’ve heard the term “Arduino” but never quite known what people were talking about, then this is your lucky day. An excellent primer has been posted, which might sound like nothing new for the popular open-source microcontroller, but know this: this primer is in comic book form.

  • Programming

    • IT-centric GCSE on way to boost kids’ coding skills

      The new IT GCSE, which does not yet have an official name, will be additional to the current ICT GCSE, which IT industry experts have long attacked for putting kids off careers in IT and failing to excite them about technology.

Leftovers

  • Putting the C-I-O Back into “Commission”

    How can we get better at promoting the benefits of ICT? By asking the people who do it every day.

    Yesterday I had a fascinating meeting with people from CIONet – a network for Chief Information Officers and IT managers, with over 3000 members from 7 EU Member States.

    Among other things they organise CIOCity – at which I had the pleasure to speak back in March, and where I presented awards to some top-performing CIOs.

    Yesterday was a fascinating insight from a mixture of academics and those in the industry – including some of the award-winners themselves.

    They explained the changes in the role of CIOs. Once they were seen predominantly as an administrative function given the sole job making sure everyone’s email worked, and maybe saving some cash while they were at it. Now they are increasingly seen as major strategic players in company development. Because these days, ICT isn’t just something that adds value to a product – it’s essential to getting a product to market.

  • Joyent upgrades cloud service to compete with Amazon

    Joyent is upgrading its public cloud service with better analytics and the ability to run Linux and Windows, as it hopes to persuade CIOs to move more applications to the company’s cloud, it said on Thursday.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Call: using ICT to save lives

      Every year in Europe, about 35,000 people are killed in road accidents, and about 1.5 million people are injured. That’s a death toll close to 100 per day.

  • Security

  • Cablegate

    • 2011-09-10 The Vatican cables revisited. Just a matter of procedure?

      There is no obvious reason to redact these passages. No informants are named. Cardinal Keeler is a public figure, and it is not conceivable why his position in this very important matter should be kept secret. The cable does not name the Jewish members of the committee that allegedly insulted Gumpel. Overall, the only effect of these redactions is that they downplay the conflicts within the commission.

  • Finance

    • What Wall Street doesn’t want us to know about oil prices

      The top six financial institutions in this country own assets equal to more than 60 percent of our gross domestic product and possess enormous economic and political power. One of the great questions of our time is whether the American people, through Congress, will control the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, or whether Wall Street will continue to wreak havoc on our economy and the lives of working families.

    • What Wall Street doesn’t want us to know about oil prices

      The top six financial institutions in this country own assets equal to more than 60 percent of our gross domestic product and possess enormous economic and political power. One of the great questions of our time is whether the American people, through Congress, will control the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, or whether Wall Street will continue to wreak havoc on our economy and the lives of working families.

    • I Failed… and I’m So Very Sorry

      Today, another victim of the foreclosure crisis took her own life. She was a disabled American veteran and her family was counting on me to help. And I let them down.

    • Goldman Sachs should consider its own breakup

      Goldman Sachs has often helped chief executives boost their companies’ shares by breaking them into pieces. The U.S. bank run by Lloyd Blankfein is currently advising Kraft Foods on its split and counseling McGraw-Hill on whether it should do the same. So it’s logical that some inside Goldman have run the numbers on their employer. The results are compelling. Should the firm’s stock linger below its book value, or assets less liabilities, of about $130 a share for much longer, a breakup could be hard for the firm’s board to resist.

    • The Limits of Meritocracy

      The 2010 Educational Attainment data from the US Census Bureau shows that close to 90 percent of the population now finishes high school, and of those, about 57 percent go on to post-secondary study. Roughly 27 percent get community college and vocational degrees or attend college but do not graduate and 30 percent finish college. The college graduation rate was only 13 percent in 1970 and 25 percent in 1995, and is projected to grow to 34 percent by 2020.

  • Privacy

    • Green leader slams Harper’s proposed internet spying laws

      Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proposed electronic surveillance laws will act as “an infringement on civil liberties,” Green Party leader Elizabeth May said in a press release today.

      The “Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act,” which Prime Minister Harper has vowed to pass as part of a larger omnibus crime bill within 100 sitting days of convening parliament, would expand the federal government’s internet surveillance powers.

    • Congress Debating If Putting A Fake Name On Facebook Should Be A Felony

      On Wednesday, George Washington Law professor and former federal prosecutor Orin Kerr authored an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, posing the question “Should faking a name on Facebook be a felony?” He was, of course, talking about the infamous Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which Congress is preparing to update. The CFAA, as has been noted here many times, is a federal law passed in the ’80s and initially designed to combat malicious computer hacking, but which has become bloated, stretched and over-applied in the years since.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Anti-Piracy Group Will Sue Pay Processors If They Don’t Name Site Admins

        Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group BREIN says it will pursue a similar strategy to its counterparts in the United States and UK by pressuring payment processors like PayPal to stop doing business with file-sharing sites. But BREIN says the processors must go further. Either they can voluntarily hand over the names of the admins behind the site accounts, or they will go to court and sue them into submission.

      • Lib Dems get a chance to vote on copyright reform

        This weekend’s Lib Dem conference will feature a debate and vote on a new IT policy paper.
        Getting IT policy right is hard, because technology is a moving target; but getting IT policy right is vital, because today there’s virtually nothing we do that doesn’t touch on IT, and tomorrow there’ll be practically nothing that doesn’t require it.

Patent Systems: So Inherently Corrupt That They Must be Kept Secret From the Public

Posted in America, Google, IBM, Patents at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Secret shelves

Summary: How the secrecy everything is shrouded in when it comes to patents helps show that something is not just amiss, it is borderline illegal

OIN members IBM and Google were recently seen making a transaction whose details we do not know. Only the patents whose assignment got changed are a known matter. This was never announced by the companies, so it’s safe to assume that secrecy is part of the strategy. According to one columnist, this whole thing is yet more evidence of the patent system failing. Wasn’t the patent system originally all about disclosure? As in transparency? All we see coming from patents are a pile of NDAs and invisible taxation of everything everyone buys. Here is one remark of interest:

The new acquisition is while good news for Android players, it’s bad news for those who are concerned about the situation. The US patent system is flawed and is discouraging innovation and encouraging bullies to threaten smaller or newer competitors.

Another good news for Android players is that long-time Microsoft partner Intel has put its trust in Android and will be working closely with Google, which means yet another heavyweight to defend Android as and when needed.

It remains unclear how Android can defend itself from patents which the Microsoft cartel passes around to patent trolls like MOSAID, which may in turn be feeding patent trolls around itself. Based on this new report, another secret sale of patents has just taken place. All we know is the cost and the involvement of a patent troll:

Mosaid Technologies Inc. has sold off a handful of non-strategic patents to an undisclosed buyer for $11 million.

The Ottawa patent and licensing company said the sale, which the buyer will pay for over an undisclosed time frame, is part of Mosaid’s plan to focus further on areas of future growth. The five patent families involved were not being licensed by Mosaid and, as a result, were not bringing in any new revenues.

Well, why the secrecy? This usually indicates bad faith. The patent system has become an industry of collusion, retaliation, extortion, and back room deals. But copyrights are not enough according to patenting maximalists, so we must live with this burden apparently. Think of all the “jobs” that would be “destroyed” had patent lawyers not had anything to sue over.

The Harvard Business Review, which is known for its leaning towards big businesses and the mainstream line, has just published a criticism of that latest patent 'reform'. To quote the opening parts:

On Friday, President Obama will sign the America Invents Act, resulting in the largest overhaul of the U.S. patent system in over half a century. The primary result of the legislation will be to transition America from a “first-to-invent” to a “first-to-file” country. Supporters of the new measure argue that it will streamline the patent application process and harmonize America’s system with the rest of the world, and it will allow for more rapid approval and increased certainty in the validity of patents. But this misses the point entirely: the fundamental problem with current patent law has nothing to do with the process for obtaining a patent. The biggest problem is that nobody can tell what a patent covers until they’ve spent months or years working it out, often in the courts.

Some of the most rigorous research on U.S. patents has been conducted by Boston University’s James Bessen and Michael Meurer. They have gone beyond the anecdotes that so often characterize discussions of patent reform and have studied in detail just how patents function, what incentives they create, and how the system could function better. What they found is that America’s patent system only provides positive incentives for innovation in two industries: pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The value that a patent confers on its owner is outweighed by the cost of obtaining, asserting, and defending that patent for almost all American companies. Anyone innovating outside of those two industries would be better off if there were no patent system at all.

Indeed. And for our coverage of the Bessen study, see this post.

It is becoming abundantly clear that if the public understood how the patent system works, there would be an outrage, to use words similar to those of Bill Gates (when his convicted monopolist was s lot smaller). The secrecy is another symptom of a serious problem and it leads to a lot of congresspeople misunderstanding this whole subject.

Improper Conduct Identified as Cause for Disappointing Acceptance of FOSS in EU Authorities

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software at 12:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like a rigged auction

Tickets in a basket

Summary: European watchdog on unfair procurement that excludes everything but Microsoft; more pressure on the UK government to pay attention to FOSS

DESPITE pressure from US politicians (see Cablegate cables like this one), the European Commission gave Microsoft something that it deserved for breaking laws. The Commission hardly punished Microsoft, but at least it tried; Microsoft fought back with lobbyists, smear campaigns, and other dubious moves, including PR/spin. But at the same time the Commission had problems of its own. It took had become a prisoner of Microsoft. We wrote about this in previous years, so we see no need to cover this again

The investigative journalist Mark Ballard has done a good job researching for his article “European Commission buys Microsoft for 20 years without competition”. To quote some key parts of the report:

The European Commission has been buying Microsoft software since 1993 without an open and public competition to assess alternative products, according to documents released to Computer Weekly.

As a result of striking its sixth successive uncontested deal with Microsoft in May this year, the Commission has ensured Microsoft will have dominated the desktop computing environment of European institutions for 20 years without allowing a single rival to compete for the business.

Documents released to Computer Weekly will raise questions about a procurement regime that allows a sole supplier to reign unchallenged for so long using legal exceptions meant only for extraordinary circumstances.

They will also raise questions about the validity of the official justifications the Commission used to secure its purchasing arrangements with Microsoft, called “negotiated procedures”, the last of which concerned approximately €50m of software licences for 36,000 PCs and their supporting infrastructure across 42 European institutions, including the European Parliament and Court of Justice.

Karsten Gerloff, president of lobby group Free Software Foundation Europe, said the ongoing Microsoft arrangement was a “disgrace” for the European Commission (EC).

[...]

Graham Taylor, chief executive of Open Forum Europe, a lobby group backed by Google, IBM, Oracle and Red Hat, said they treated the negotiated procedure with “extreme caution” and failed to understand why the Commission had used it to prevent competition in desktop software.

Hopefully articles like these will pressure for change.

Only recently we saw some reports on growing pressure for the UK government to actually fulfil its Open Source software promises. Here is another new article which addresses this same topic almost 2 weeks after it all began in the British press:

Following a number of freedom of information requests, it was recently revealed that government departments were ignoring open source in the face of proprietary software, despite promises by Cabinet Officer Francis Maude.

Maude had declared there would be a “level playing field” for open source as a way to slash public spending. Yet it is evident that significant sums are still finding their way into the pockets of big firms.

TechEye contacted Tom Watson who was keen to express his support for open source in government IT, and showing support on a parliamentary level to further its use. While there is clearly support for open source, why has it been so difficult to actually bring about the necessary changes?

Gerry Gavigan at the Open Source Consortium believes that the government has failed to put guidance in place which would ensure an environment where open source can thrive.

He told TechEye that the problem with open source is from a lack of force from the Cabinet Office in putting open standards and interoperability in place.

“When you look across government it is hard to see any strategic decisions being made,” he told us.

“The government needs to make an overriding decision on the implementation of open standards before open source software can gain a foothold. Without this using open source software can actually cost more.”

Good luck to Gerry Gavigan and others who do good work to make the UK more Free software tolerant. As it stands at the moment, the UK remains one of the most Free/open source software-hostile counties in Europe, based on some older ladders.

SAP Offers Lip Service to Red Hat But Continues to Pay Microsoft for GNU/Linux, Thanks to SUSE

Posted in GNU/Linux, Red Hat, SLES/SLED at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The role of SUSE, its “community”, and a new case study of SLES “Linux tax” at SAP

“MICROSOFT Linux” (also known as SUSE, which is partly funded by Microsoft by the way) is one of the biggest problems GNU/Linux has got on the server side at the moment. It’s mostly about SLES, as SLED is hardly relevant anymore. Microsoft basically takes part of the revenue made by putting SLES in the datacentre, which is exactly why Microsoft backs SUSE financially. It’s about combating distributions that do not pay Microsoft a penny, notably Red Hat/CentOS and Debian GNU/Linux.

SUSE organises an event for employees and volunteers, hoping to attract the latter using the “OpenSUSE” alter ego. To quote the latter article: “At the openSUSE Conference, we talked to the makers of openSUSE about the new developments for SUSE and for the community distribution.”

“Community” is code word for unpaid staff in this case. Microsoft is among those who profit from the work of this “community”.

The more major news this week is the announcement from SAP that it will carry on paying Microsoft a tax for using GNU/Linux. There is even a press release about it and this spin says:

“Our partnerships with SAP and IBM have enabled thousands of customers to gain from the exciting benefits SUSE Linux has to offer, including decreased operating costs and improved performance,” said Michael Miller, vice president of global marketing and alliances…

Shame on IBM for still allowing Microsoft to make money from GNU/Linux. Then again, IBM is not against software patents and it helped SUSE be acquired by Novell almost a decade ago. This whole thing is worth mentioning especially because only days earlier it was stressed that SAP supports Red Hat. When will SAP actually make Red Hat its platform of choice and stop choosing to pay Microsoft for something which is free? Some Microsoft allies like SAP actually want to do this. That’s where SUSE comes in.

Cablegate: Microsoft’s Tax Dodge

Posted in Europe, Finance, Microsoft at 7:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: A look at the confidential cable about “IRISH FOCUS ON U.S. FIRMS”

OVER THE years we have written a great deal about Microsoft’s tax dodge in the US and EU. We showed that Microsoft had cronies (former executives) in government to allow it to do this and we also mentioned Charlie McCreevy on occasions.

The following cable mentions Microsoft almost exclusively in relation to tax dodging in Ireland. “On this issue,” says the cable, “Irish coverage followed reports concerning, on one hand, renewed pressure for EU tax harmonization and, on the other, the use of Irish corporate tax benefits by U.S. firms. Regarding the latter, the Wall Street Journal reported in November that Microsoft had placed intellectual property with Irish units to save USD 500 million in U.S. taxes, and a subsequent New York Times editorial described Ireland as a tax haven that facilitated the outflow of U.S. jobs and investment. The Irish media later reported that the IRS was pursuing USD 500 million in back taxes from the U.S. software group Synopsis over its Irish subsidiaries’ transactions. Irish reporting highlighted domestic concerns that U.S. firms were exploiting Ireland’s 12.5 percent corporate tax rate with questionable transfer-pricing methods. (As a theoretical example, U.S. firms could sell assets to Irish subsidiaries at low prices in order to minimize their profitability, and thus tax liability, in the United States; the Irish subsidiary could then resell the assets and be taxed at the lower Irish rate, while its profits would form part of the earnings that would grade the U.S. firm’s overall performance.)”

We all know what happened to the Irish economy not so long ago. This whole gig paid off for corporations from abroad, but it didn’t work so well for Irish people, did it?

McCreevy is mentioned in this confidential Cablegate cable where it says: “Ireland would continue to resist any move within the EU to harmonize tax rates that might push Ireland’s corporate tax higher, said Connolly. He explained that Ireland’s opposition to harmonization had a powerful spokesperson in EU Commissioner for the Internal Market (and former Irish Finance Minister) Charlie McCreevy, as well as a like-minded ally in the UK.”

Here is the full cable:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cablegate: “IBM Have Advocated That High Quality Software Patents Would Also Have Significant Value”

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, IBM, Patents at 7:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: IBM is proving yet again that it is working to spread software patents even outside the United States, painting itself part of the problem

IN A CABLE from Beijing we find more evidence of IBM’s lobbying for software patents, which is not surprising. But in this case, IBM joins the Japanese push to put software patents even in China. IBM is a proprietary software giant and increasingly a private bank (loans) that also sells services and patents (e.g. to Google). Here is the Cablegate cable in full:

Read the rest of this entry »

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