daria42 writes: Looks like Google's habit of funnelling billions of dollars in revenue through its Irish and Bermuda subsidiaries, in a tactic known as the "double Dutch sandwich", continues to attract unfavourable government attention globally. France has already announced plans to take on the search giant's tax evasion habits, and the Australian Government, to which Google paid just $74,000 in tax last year despite having Australian revenues close to $1 billion, has now confirmed plans to do the same. How does tax evasion relate to Google's 'don't be evil' motto? Perhaps Google should re-consider its stance in this area.
daria42 writes: This morning Microsoft held a major launch event for its new Windows 8 operating system in Sydney. There is marketing material everywhere, articles in every major publication; Australians are swamped with info about Windows 8. The only caveat? They can't buy it. Microsoft confirmed this morning that it's not yet selling full copies of Windows 8 in Australia, only upgrade versions. Does this seem a little strange to anyone else?
daria42 writes: Live outside the US? Then you're probably used to being blocked from watching Hulu, frustrated by not being able to buy the eBooks you want from Amazon and most of all, annoyed about paying significantly higher prices than Americans for exactly the same software, games and content online, all based on your IP address. This week Australian consumer group Choice called for an Australian ban on geo-IP-blocking, saying it created significant barriers to the free flow of goods and services. Maybe other countries' consumer groups should follow suit, in the quest for a fair go?
daria42 writes: Bad news, Internet Explorer users. If you're using version 7 of IE and want to buy goods from major Australian online retailer Kogan, you'll be paying 6.8 percent more than those using alternative browsers or IE8 or IE9. Kogan this week said it was fed up with the high costs of keeping its web site compatible with IE7, so it's passing the cost onto those who use the browser. Sounds like it's about time to switch;)
daria42 writes: Enjoying Diablo 3? I'm sure you are, as it's likely to be one of the games of the year. Unless, of course, you're Australian, in which case you're probably struggling to play with an acceptable response time due to abominable lag to US servers, due to Blizzard's reluctance to establish Australian servers for the game. But then, it was the same situation with World of Warcraft and StarCraft II — looks like nothing has changed:(
daria42 writes: It appears as if the decision to screen HBO's popular Game of Thrones show in Australia up to nine days after it screens in the US is having a dramatic impact on the country's Internet piracy activities. With a population of just 23 million compared with the US's 313 million, more people are pirating Game of Thrones via BitTorrent each week in Australia than are in the US, with 10.1 percent of all BitTorrent downloads of the show coming from Australia compared with 9.7 percent from the US. Perhaps, just perhaps, HBO, it might be a good idea to stream Game of Thrones in a reasonable time frame to Australia? Just saying.
daria42 writes: Looks like Apple isn't the only company with interesting offshore taxation practices. The financial statements for Google's Australian subsidiary show the company told the Australian Government it made just $200 million in revenue in 2011 in Australia, despite local industry estimating it actually brought in closer to $1 billion. The rest was funnelled through Google's Irish subsidiary and not disclosed in Australia. Consequently the company only disclosed taxation costs in Australia of $74,000. Not bad work if you can get it — which Google apparently can. About that 'don't be evil' motto? Yeah. Not so much.
daria42 writes: Live in the US? Most likely, you do. In that case, you're probably not aware that vendors like Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Lenovo charge thousands of dollars more for the same tech products (even if they're digital downloads) sold outside the US. Australian consumers have been complaining about this issue for a decade now, and the Australian Government has finally sat up and paid attention, announcing an official inquiry into this issue, with executives from major vendors to be hauled before a committee to explain their markups. Sounds like a win for consumers — at least in Australia.
daria42 writes: Australian Internet service provider iiNet has emerged victorious in a long-running court case to determine the future of how the country's ISPs handle Internet piracy complaints by movie and film studios. Australia's courts have found several times that ISPs such as iiNet have not authorised Internet piracy by not passing on so-called "copyright infringement notices" from content owners to broadband users. This morning, the country's highest court of appeal, the High Court, found in favour of iiNet and dismissed an appeal by film and TV studios in the area, setting back the content owners' ability to directly target Internet users for piracy. The move is being widely interpreted as a win for digital rights in Australia.
daria42 writes: It may be a little-known fact that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, but that hasn't stopped activists and politicians in Australia for calling on the Australian Government to help secure his release from the current legal action in the UK and Sweden and secure his return to a safe haven in Australia, blocking a potential extradition to face more serious charges in the United States. However, due to the ongoing legal action, the Australian Government said this week, its hands were currently tied in what actions it could take with respect to Assange, as no formal US extradition request had been made.
daria42 writes: It looks as if the global hacking community has decided enough is enough when it comes to News Corporation's hacking attempts — first from News of the World journalists, then from a secretive pay TV piracy group in Australia. News Corp's Australian division warned its staff today that it was being targeted by a so-called 'phishing' campaign where external sources are spamming staff to try to get them to respond with their account login details. Turn about for News Corp? Looks like it.
daria42 writes: A series of articles and Apple itself has made it pretty clear that the 4G speeds which the company's new iPad tablet boasts are not supported in Australia, due to the fact that the only 4G network currently functioning in Australia (Telstra's) uses a different spectrum band (1800MHz) compared with the 700MHz and 2100MHz bands being used by telcos in the US and a number of other countries. But this disclosure doesn't appear to have placated the country's competition regulator, the ACCC, which tonight flagged plans to sue Apple over what it called its "misleading" claims on 4G support in Australia. This isn't the only lawsuit Apple is currently fighting in Australia — some of you may recall the company is also in court in Australia against Samsung over the company's Galaxy Tab tablet, which Apple alleges breaches its patents.
daria42 writes: Steve Jobs might not be around any more to enforce some of Apple's stricter policies, but that doesn't mean the company is letting it all hang loose. Overnight the UK company which produces a speech recognition app called Evi, which mimics many of the functions of Apple's Siri, confirmed Apple had approached his company letting it know that Evi was being reviewed for possible breaches of Apple's App Store policies. The reason? A clause in the policy which bans apps too similar to Apple's existing software. It does appear to matter to Apple that Siri doesn't function that well in the UK, because of a lack of good localisation.
daria42 writes: Progress is happening rapidly in Australia, with the country's government continuing to roll out a nation-wide fibre network. However, the country's major telco Telstra doesn't appear to have quite gotten the message. Releasing its first National Broadband Network fibre broadband plans today, the telco stipulated that fibre customers will still be forced to make phone calls over the telco's existing copper network. Yup, that's right — fibre to people's houses, but phone calls over the copper network. Progress.
daria42 writes: Looks like Australia's Government is continuing to prefer to keep its ongoing anti-piracy discussions behind closed doors. It held an initial meeting held in September last year to try and get the content and ISP industries to thrash out an agreement on how to handle Internet piracy. Consumer representative groups were explicitly blocked from attending the meeting, and attendees are now allowed to reveal what was discussed behind closed doors. Now a second meeting has been held, and again, no information has been revealed about what's being discussed. Quelle conspiracy?