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Comment Re:So why the secrecy (Score 1) 171

I'm not sure how you think this works, but the phone company doesn't know only the one tower you are currently connected to. Your phone regularly senses the signal strengths to all towers in range, and sends the list of strengths to its current tower. This allows the system to decide when to tell the phone to transfer to another tower. In the city, the microcells (and smaller) are also really tiny. Until about 2000, the phone companies were still thinking (or at least claiming publicly) this data alone would be enough to meet the U.S. FCC 911-emergency requirement to locate 67% of phones to within 50m. In the end, they couldn't quite do it (mainly terrain and canyon effects), but it was close. Eventually, it got cheap enough to put GPS in the phones that they just gave in and used that.

How much of this extra information is actually recorded isn't published, although it's probably thrown away mostly. (The algorithms for predicting when to transfer a phone to which tower are trade secrets.) If they wanted to track you, certainly down to which highway exit you are at, the information is available. This tracking reduces the number of towers required along highways, which saves money, which motivates research.

Even if they knew to within only a mile or two, my original point would be the same. Obviously they know which tower to send the ring message to, so they have a general idea where you are. Is tracking a person's movements to within a mile fundamentally different to tracking them to within 10m?

Comment Re: Who? (Score 1) 309

To me, it's the other way around. Convincing the voters is just how he gets and keeps the job. The actual function of a president, however, is not to get elected; it's to decide what action is appropriate, and then to convince the politically-biased groups in the various branches of government to do things that need to be done. Some bossing around is certainly possible, but there's a lot of convincing involved.

Comment Re: Who? (Score 2, Insightful) 309

If he can't convince his own party to put him in a debate, how would he do at convincing congress and senate to support his policies as president? Convincing politically biased groups to do things is just about the primary job skill for a president. It sounds like he thought he had that skill, but it turned out that he wasn't up to the practical test.

Comment Re:Contracts (Score 1) 307

Standard contracts for routine purchases can't contain completely unexpected things in the fine print. If the contract said check-out is 9:30 in the morning, that would be surprising, but wouldn't be out of place. If it said that checking out later than 9:30 would automatically add a day to your billed visit, that would be completely unexpected, and the hotel would have trouble enforcing it unless it was in boldface and underlined so it couldn't be missed. There is a difference between a contract negotiated between lawyers, and something that the client has reason to expect is boilerplate standard. Isn't the legal term "an idiot in a hurry" or something similar? IANAL, but the Trading Standards office seems to think the contract was of questionable validity.

Comment Re:If you can't do, sue! (Score 4, Interesting) 124

They didn't threaten him for studying the algorithm, the note is about publishing code that implements their proprietary encryption algorithm. It seems more likely that they are worried about a competitor building compatible devices. If they allowed a freely published GPL implementation to be distributed without challenge, somebody might say that was implicitly approving of its distribution and therefore permitting compatible devices to be legally sold that interact with their proprietary system. I'm not sure whether that would hold up in court, but it would certainly drag out the proceedings.

From the letter, this isn't shooting the messenger so much as normal protection of a proprietary product. If somebody eventually convinces the public that it's insecure, they will deal with that later; maybe they will even have fixed their systems by then. The important thing for now is that whatever systems are out there are all genuinely from INSIDE Secure.

Comment Re:Of course they're giving a 6-year transition (Score 1) 259

For a more typical example, Starbucks is still fresh in public memory. They sold a lot of coffee in the UK, but made no profit there because their income and expenses were the same, so no UK tax. On the other hand, their Swiss coffee bean distribution business was very profitable. You might say they were paying too much for the beans in order to artificially boost the profits of their Swiss company (low tax) at the expense of their UK company (high tax), but they say that if you want good beans, they cost money, and the high profitability of their bean distribution was because it was a slick, high-quality operation.

Obviously, that's over-simplifying but, even for this version, how do you fix it? For your Microsoft example, who decides how much would be a fair price for Dublin to pay the Redmond business, given that there is no chance of an open bidding process with the single supplier who also happens to own the Dublin company?

Comment Re:Of course they're giving a 6-year transition (Score 2) 259

Taxes should always be paid where the revenue was generated

That's an argument for the U.S.A. closing loopholes that allow companies not to pay tax there. Higher taxes in Ireland won't change the amount of tax due in the U.S.A. It may encourage some companies to declare income differently, which may indirectly cause more tax to be paid in the U.S.A., but if you want the taxes paid where the money was earned, don't look at where it was sent; look at what allowed the companies to claim it wasn't domestic income in the first place.

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