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Comment Re:Tax avoidance vs. Tax evasion (Score 2) 579

Not really. In the US, if you had a private letter ruling like this where the IRS blessed your tax avoidance scheme and a court later disagreed, you still owe the taxes and internet. You would probably be spared the penalties since you followed IRS guidance in good faith. The law firm you hired to work with the IRS, might owe you some kind of refund or indemnity from their insurer.

Comment Re:False says Irish Finance Minister (Score 2) 579

I believe the way this happens is similar to what in the US is called a "Private Letter Ruling"

Basically a business or individual wants to know if a particular tax or other business strategy, basically a loophole, is legal. So they hire a specialty law firm and pay them to document the plan and then send it to the IRS or another regulator. What they get back is an opinion by that regulator that what they are doing is legal or not. Its not binding in court though but it might protect you from penalties or criminal charges for tax evasion if a court later disagrees with the private letter ruling since you followed the best legal advice and regulator interpretations in good faith.

So what seems to have happened here is Apple had this complex tax avoidance scheme and was able to convince Irish tax officials to sign off that their interpretation is that this is legal. However what was really happening is that Apple was telling all the other EU tax authorities that revenue was being earned in Ireland and would be taxed there. Then they were being allowed to tell Irish tax authorities that most of it was being earned and taxed elsewhere simultaneously.

Fundamentally this is a dishonest deal and the EU is right to require that a corporation when filing its taxes is not allowed to create two alternate stories to document its revenue and profits whereby a large portion of it, $100B+ of profits in this case is not being taxed anywhere.

Comment Re:What happened to personal choice? (Score 1) 104

A contract doesn't override the law. The government decides what contract terms are enforceable in court. Also most of the drivers started driving before the arbitration clause was added. You may have noticed about a year ago that virtually every company you do business with as a consumer sent out a notice with an arbitration clause because they found a wording that the Supreme Court agreed with even though the Federal Arbitration Act was never intended to cover consumer and employee disputes, but only business-to-business disputes. The expansion of FAA was basically a conservative project begun decades ago, long before some of the authors ended up on SCOTUS.

Comment The use cases are narrow but legitimate (Score 1) 212

The bad part about lack of anonymity in our transactions is that Big Data actually gets us some reasonable legal use cases for privacy like why should my credit card company and everyone they share data with know what kind of porn I buy or what books I read or whether I go out to lunch often and who knows what kind of automated algorithms farther down the chain might do with that info like deny me employment surreptitiously.

I think unfortunately the cat is out of the bag in terms of protecting that kind of data from widespread sharing and mining. The only thing that we can really do now is legislate transparency in how its used (like credit reports) and prohibit discriminatory practices based on it.

Unfortunately financial privacy's primary use case is tax evasion, criminal purchases, and money laundering. I think it is better that we reform laws against consensual crimes like recreational drug use and respect freedom of speech/belief/press as a basic human right and not just count on bad laws being difficult to enforce.

Comment Get a warrant and I'll give you my pw (Score 3, Insightful) 367

I promise I'll give up my password when I get a warrant and verify it with my lawyer.

The only reasons for backdoors are to violate the 4th amendment with mass surveillance or for ephemeral keys that get destroyed like an encrypted chat or phone call but they should not have been recorded without a warrant in the first place.

Comment Re:You wouldn't know it was declining here.... (Score 1) 194

You'd not know it was not he decline here in New Orleans. Geez, the other night, driving through City Park about 3:30am on a Friday night, the place was packed with people slowly cruising around in cars with their Pokemon playing on their phones.

That wasn't Pokemon. That was Grindr.

Comment Re:How much for a de-gorped phone? (Score 1) 198

As of 2016, how easy is it for someone who's not super technical to buy an Android phone without carrier branding that works well on Verizon or Sprint? Even if hardcore users of Slashdot have a lot of time to learn to do their own research, our non-technical friends and family may not.

As of March 2016, I brought a Nexus 6p to the Verizon company store and told them to transfer my phone number to it. They knew to look up the ESN/IMEI, poke it into a Verizon support website (on their own support tablet) to validate that it's compatible with their network, go get a nano-sim and put it into the phone, and transfer the account and phone number to it. Half an hour, no drama.

I didn't have to know, do, or tell them anything. I am a super technical guy, so I was watching like a hawk, ready to manspain anything they didn't get right, but it wasn't necessary.

It can work, if you get someone competent at the support site. Such a thing isn't guaranteed, but it's not impossible either.

Comment Re:WELL NO DOUBT ITS THANKS TO SLASHDOT FBI (Score 2) 73

The allegations about murder-for-hire were never proven in the court or even charged iirc. He was basically convicted for being in a criminal enterprise by running the marketplace. There are plenty of violent criminals who got far lighter sentences than Ulbricht for basically acting as an online middleman for illegal transactions.
IMHO, you could probably imprison the CEO of Ebay for being the biggest fence of stolen goods under the same theory.

Comment Re:Seagate's post-Maxtor acquisition reputation (Score 2) 162

You have to appreciate the thoroughness of the engineering, to incorporate the electronics necessary to simulate the sounds of mechanical failure in a solid-state, no-moving-parts storage system.

The only improvement would be including a pyro squib and a small smoke source for the complete effect.

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