U.K. Government Targets Tech Giants Like Apple and Amazon Over Tax Payments

The U.K. government announced in Wednesday's annual budget that it plans to clamp down on tax avoidance by increasing the tax it collects from online giants such as Apple and Amazon.

In his Treasury speech to the Commons, Chancellor Philip Hammond said income tax would be charged on royalties relating to U.K. sales, even when they are paid to a low-tax jurisdiction and would not normally be taxed in the UK under current rules.


The new rules are due to come into effect from April next year, and estimates suggest they will raise approximately 800 million pounds ($1.07 billion) in extra tax over the next five years. However, Hammond admitted they would only go some way to balancing out the taxation treatment of digital firms, and that more would have to be done to tackle tax avoidance.
Multinational digital businesses pay billions of pounds in royalties to jurisdictions where they are not taxed and some of those relate to UK sales.

This does not solve the problem, but it does send a signal of our determination and we will continue work in the international arena to find a sustainable and fair long-term solution that properly taxes the digital businesses that operate in our cyberspace.
Apple recently came in for criticism when the so-called Paradise Papers revealed that the company sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax structure by moving the majority of its offshore cash holdings to the small island of Jersey, a self-governed territory with loose ties to the United Kingdom.

The papers showed that Apple's two key Irish subsidiaries were managed from the Jersey offices of offshore tax law firm Appleby from 2015 until early 2016. Apple reportedly chose Jersey after exploring several potential tax havens, such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Apple apparently turned to Jersey after European officials began to crack down on the so-called "Double Irish" tax structure it had exploited. The loophole allows for multinational corporations to funnel revenue through an Irish subsidiary, which in turn sends that money to another Irish subsidiary that has residency in a tax haven. The practice has enabled Apple to save billions of dollars in taxes globally.

Apple responded to the revelations contained in the Paradise Papers by saying that it made regulators in the U.S. and Ireland, and the European Commission, aware about the reorganization of its Irish subsidiaries, and added that the changes haven't reduced its tax bill.

Last year, the European Commission ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in back taxes from Apple, after it concluded that the country's tax agreements with the tech giant represented "illegal state aid". Both Apple and the Irish government are currently appealing the ruling.

Apple has repeatedly highlighted its position as the largest taxpayer in the world and reiterated the fact that it holds overseas cash because that's where the majority of its products are sold. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple is willing to repatriate some of its offshore cash holdings into the U.S., but he also recently said that tax reform is "sorely needed" first.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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U.K. Mobile Banking Apps Begin Offering Face ID Authentication Support

Two U.K. banks today updated their mobile apps to support Face ID, the facial authentication feature exclusive to iPhone X, which officially launches on Friday, November 3.

Nationwide and Bank of Scotland became the first mobile banking apps in the U.K. to provide compatibility with Apple's new facial recognition technology, which is set to replace Touch ID fingerprint authentication on all future iPhones and iPads, according to respected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


The two banking apps already provide a Touch ID option to authenticate customers when they attempt to log in to their accounts, so the fact that Face ID is being offered as an alternative option shows that the financial sector has full trust in Apple's new security technology, despite tests showing that it can be fooled by identical twins.

Apple has admitted that Face ID may not be able to distinguish between identical twins and in such cases recommends users protect sensitive data with a passcode instead. Otherwise, Apple says the chance that a random person in the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it with their face is about one in a million (compared to one in 50,000 for Touch ID).

Face ID has proved to be reliable in early iPhone X reviews and first impressions, and it's also considered easy to set up and use, but Apple likely still has some work to do to convince the general public that facial authentication is the future. According to a research conducted by Top10VPN.com in October, over half (60 percent) of British consumers remain unconvinced by facial recognition. Only two in five (40 percent) consumers believing Face ID is a good idea, while 79 percent of Brits prefer to unlock their devices with a fingerprint or passcodes. (Poll sample size: 2,048 adults.)

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple CarPlay Support Comes to BBC iPlayer Radio App

The BBC today updated its Radio iPlayer app to support Apple CarPlay, allowing vehicle drivers with the feature to listen to BBC radio more safely when behind the wheel.

A simplified touch interface has been adopted for the new in-car version, designed to be easy to fast-forward in a show or skip through entire episodes.


Apart from CarPlay and Android Auto support, the update also brings additional features to help make radio listening a more personalized in-car experience.

The new app interface is split into four sections titled Following, Listen Later, Downloads, and Stations. The Following section gathers favorited shows for easy access from within CarPlay, Listen Later lists shows tagged by users for future listening, while the Downloads section keeps shows ready for listening offline in areas with poor signal.

The BBC iPlayer Radio app is a free download for U.K. listeners available from the App Store. [Direct Link]


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Netflix Prices Set to Increase for U.K. Subscribers From November

Following yesterday's announcement of price hikes in the U.S., Netflix has now confirmed that some U.K. subscribers can also expect to pay more for the video streaming service going forward.


Those on the Basic tier, costing £6 a month, won't see a price increase. However, that's where the good news ends, because anyone on the Standard tier, which includes shows in HD and the ability to watch on two screens simultaneously, will see their monthly bill rise from £7.50 per month to £8.

Meanwhile, users who pay for 4K HDR privileges and the ability to watch on four screens at once are set to pay £10, up from £9. The cost increases will come into effect beginning November. Netflix said it will inform existing subscribers of the price hikes on October 19.

Netflix is set to debut the second series of its hit original series Stranger Things on October 27. This week, the company also released an official Stranger Things mobile game, which iPhone and iPad users can download from the App Store for free.

(Via What Hi-Fi.)


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UK Network EE Will Offer £5 a Month Cellular Tariff for LTE-Capable Apple Watch Series 3

EE will be the exclusive mobile network in the U.K. to offer a tariff for the new LTE-capable Apple Watch Series 3 when it begins shipping later this month.

Announced at Apple's media event on Tuesday, the latest version of the smartwatch contains an eSIM that can connect to a 4G LTE network so users can make and receive calls on their wrist, while watchOS apps can make use of the mobile data connection while untethered from an iPhone.


According to the BBC's Dave Lee, the EE tariff for the Apple Watch Series 3 will be £5 per month for existing EE iPhone contract holders, with the calling function on the watch using the same number as the owner's phone.

EE customers will be able to sign up for the new tariff when the Series 3 Apple Watch becomes available for pre-order on September 15, costing £399 with cellular connectivity and £329 without. Orders for the new watch are expected to arrive on September 22, which is the official launch date of the device.


Apple only mentioned EE as a U.K. carrier for the Apple Watch Series 3 during its media event yesterday, but it's likely that other U.K. networks will offer their own tariffs as the market for the LTE smartwatch matures.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tags: EE, United Kingdom
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Don't Buy)

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UK Network EE Will Offer £5 a Month Cellular Tariff for LTE-Capable Apple Watch Series 3

EE will be the exclusive mobile network in the U.K. to offer a tariff for the new LTE-capable Apple Watch Series 3 when it begins shipping later this month.

Announced at Apple's media event on Tuesday, the latest version of the smartwatch contains an eSIM that can connect to a 4G LTE network so users can make and receive calls on their wrist, while watchOS apps can make use of the mobile data connection while untethered from an iPhone.


According to the BBC's Dave Lee, the EE tariff for the Apple Watch Series 3 will be £5 per month for existing EE iPhone contract holders, with the calling function on the watch using the same number as the owner's phone.

EE customers will be able to sign up for the new tariff when the Series 3 Apple Watch becomes available for pre-order on September 15, costing £399 with cellular connectivity and £329 without. Orders for the new watch are expected to arrive on September 22, which is the official launch date of the device.


Apple only mentioned EE as a U.K. carrier for the Apple Watch Series 3 during its media event yesterday, but it's likely that other U.K. networks will offer their own tariffs as the market for the LTE smartwatch matures.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 3, watchOS 4
Tags: EE, United Kingdom
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Don't Buy)

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LightwaveRF Unveils New HomeKit-Enabled Accessories With UK Compatibility

U.K. smart home solutions provider LightwaveRF announced on Monday that its forthcoming product range, which includes a light dimmer and smart socket, will be fully compatible with Apple's HomeKit platform.

On October 3, LightwaveRF will launch its new Generation 2 Link Plus smart hub, Smart Dimmers, Smart Sockets, and a Smart Radiator Valve. The Link Plus connects to a Wi-Fi router and controls the LightwaveRF smart home system for lighting, heating, power and security.


"This is a further exciting development for LightwaveRF," said chief executive officer Andrew Pearson. "We look forward to working with Apple as a HomeKit technical partner and a supplier to its retail outlets. The exposure and awareness from this partnership should enhance our market visibility and greatly benefit our customers via easier management of their smart home solutions. We look forward to expanding our relationship with Apple as we launch further HomeKit compatible devices for both the UK and international markets."
The new LightwaveRF range is said to be the result of a two-year research and development program, with new features of the system including built-in energy monitoring, color-changing LEDs to indicate status, and wire-free two-way switching.

The new range will be sold in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates through Apple retail stores, online via Apple.com, and other chosen retail outlets.


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Apple’s Tiny WestQuay Store Getting Much-Needed Expansion This Weekend

One of Apple's tiniest retail stores, at the WestQuay shopping center in Southampton, UK, is getting a much-needed expansion this weekend.

Apple's tiny WestQuay retail store opened in February 2007

The current store, which recently turned 10 years old, will close on Friday evening for the final time, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. On Saturday, a larger store will open down the hall, taking over two units previously occupied by British retailers Sports Direct and Monsoon, the people said.

Lending credence to our report is a WestQuay floor plan with two vacant units—SU41 and MSU2—just steps away from Apple's current location in the shopping center. In addition, when we searched for Today at Apple events in the Southampton area, the WestQuay store had no workshops scheduled until Saturday.


Apple and WestQuay shopping center management did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Apple retail stores have seen a significant increase in foot traffic since the WestQuay location opened in February 2007, prior to the original iPhone launch. The larger store will be a welcomed change for both Apple retail employees and customers, and it should benefit from an updated appearance as well.

Apple's financial chief Luca Maestri recently said Apple collectively welcomed over 300 million visitors to its retail stores last quarter.

"It was a very busy quarter for our online and retail stores, which collectively welcomed over 300 million visitors," he said. "In addition to our spectacular new store at the Dubai Mall, we opened our first stores in Singapore and in Taiwan during the quarter, expanding our total store footprint to 497 stores."

"In May, we kicked off Today at Apple, with new in-store programming from music to photography to art and coding, and our stores collectively hosted 87,000 sessions during the quarter," he added. "We have entered a new chapter in retail, with unique and rewarding experiences for our customers."

Related Roundup: Apple Stores
Tag: United Kingdom

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‘Real People’ Don’t Need Encrypted Messaging Services, Claims U.K. Home Secretary

The U.K. home secretary Amber Rudd has argued that "real people" do not want secure end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms and are more concerned with usability and features than unbreakable security (via Yahoo News).

Rudd made her case in a newspaper article, published ahead of a meeting today with technology companies in San Francisco, where she will warn tech giants that their services are being misused by terrorists. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Rudd said:
"Who uses WhatsApp because it is end-to-end encrypted, rather than because it is an incredibly user-friendly and cheap way of staying in touch with friends and family?

"So this is not about asking the companies to break encryption or create so-called 'back doors'.

"Companies are constantly making trade-offs between security and 'usability', and it is here where our experts believe opportunities may lie.

"Real people often prefer ease of use and a multitude of features to perfect, unbreakable security."
Rudd's comments were immediately criticized by privacy campaigners, with civil liberties organization Big Brother Watch calling her viewpoint "at best naïve, at worst dangerous".

"Suggesting that people don't really want security from their online services is frankly insulting," said Renate Samson, chief executive of BBW. "What of those in society who are in dangerous or vulnerable situations, let alone those of us who simply want to protect our communications from breach, hack or cybercrime."

"Once again the government are attempting to undermine the security of all in response to the actions of a few. We are all digital citizens, we all deserve security in the digital space."

Rudd is due to give her speech to tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft, in which she will urge them to do more to remove extremist content online or face new laws forcing them to do so.

Speaking to the BBC, Rudd said she wanted to work more closely with companies on encryption so that "where there is a particular need, where there is a targeted need" the government should be given access to metadata and encrypted content.

But Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, pushed back against that argument, and warned about pushing criminals into even harder to reach parts of the internet.

"If people move off those encrypted services to go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata, the government actually has less information, not more," she said.

Tuesday's summit is the first gathering of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, an organization set up by the major tech companies following recent terror attacks. Organization members are likely to resist any action that would result in compromised encryption, however.

In a joint statement, the companies taking part said they were co-operating to "substantially disrupt terrorists' ability to use the internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights".

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Apple Pay Expanding to AIB in Ireland, CaixaBank in Spain, and Other Banks in UK, France, and Italy

Apple Pay continues its global expansion today with several new participating banks, and more coming soon, in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the UK.


In France, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year to Banque BCP and Arkéa Banque Privée customers, and through mobile-only banking and/or payment solutions Orange Bank, Lydia, and N26.

In Italy, as promised, Apple Pay is available now for American Express credit cards issued directly by American Express.

In Ireland, Apple Pay is available now at AIB, one of the so-called "Big Four" financial institutions in the country.


In Spain, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year at CaixaBank and mobile-only banking app imaginBank. Visa in general will also begin supporting Apple Pay in Spain by the end of the year.

In the UK, Apple Pay is now supported by mobile-only banking app Starling Bank.

Earlier this month, Apple announced several other new and forthcoming banks with Apple Pay support in France, Italy, and Spain. Apple maintains a complete list of Apple Pay participating banks in Europe on its website.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Ireland

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