Squeaky Clean

Apple's moral responsibility; how the FCC is threatening local media; and more.

  • Wolfgang Krach, the editor-in-chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung, takes Tim Cook to task for not paying a tax rate in line with Apple’s purported “moral responsibility.” “But what unsettles me the most is the way in which Apple instructed a law firm to obtain an “official assurance of tax exemption” from the government of a country,” Krach writes. “Why do you want that? Why do you feel entitled to not pay any taxes in a country? Did you want to make zero-tax status a precondition for establishing tax residency there? What gives you the right to do so?”

    Krach continues: “And what understanding of democracy are we supposed to discern from the question you had this law firm ask? The one about whether the country had a “credible opposition party” or “movement that may replace the current government?” Were you trying to ensure that you would be able to retain tax-free status even after elections or a change in government?”

  • The Guardian’s Olivia Solon explains how technology and technologists became everyone’s favorite punching bag. “The focus of Silicon Valley used to be innovation with the wonderful bonus of money on the side of that, but those two things seem to have switched – just as the pencil pushing mentality of finance in the 70s became the champagne lifestyle in the 2000s,” one health-tech entrepreneur told Solon. “People have come to have too much swagger and not enough insights.”

  • In his recent New York Times column, Farhad Manjoo dives into the sticky issue of money in tech, which is often coming (in enormous quantities) from dubious sources. “It used to be that most of the money in tech came from more vaunted sources—universities, philanthropies, pension plans and other nonprofits, which made up the bulk of funders to venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers,” Manjoo writes. “Now we’re in a new era, when giant pools of money splash through sleek-sounding Vision Funds and come out seeming squeaky clean—and ready to fund the next great thing to make the world so much better, we promise.”

  • This is civic tech: The USC Price Center for Social Innovation launched a dashboard for LA residents to use to track things like air pollution, food insecurity, and heart disease rates, Jason Shueh reports for StateScoop.

  • Cyber-insecurity: Spain has fined Google 300,000 EUR for sucking up personal data and storing it without permission from the affected parties, according to telecompaper: “The data was inadvertently collected by the company’s Street View cars without seeking the consent of affected users in what the AEPD described as a serious infringement of data protection laws. Google accidentally intercepted emails, user names, passwords, IP and MAC addresses plus other data from Wi-Fi networks while taking photographs for Street View, said the agency.”

  • Life in Facebookistan: Todd Gitlin writes for BillMoyers.com that disclosure can only be the start when it comes to reining in social media. “Consider how disclosure was supposed to remedy deficiencies in the laissez-faire system of political donations,” Gitlin writes. “Thanks to the post-Watergate reforms, any curiosity-seeker can today readily find out who donated to whom in which election. Data piles higher than mountains. But you may have noticed that disclosure has not drained any swamps.” What should come after disclosure is less clear.

  • Even after a shady website run by the Russian government-backed Internet Research Agency was blocked on Facebook, they continue to co-opt events planned by black organizers on their website, BlackMattersUS, April Glaser reports for Slate, apparently part of their campaign to amplify racial tensions in the country.

  • Media matters: The FCC is on the verge of voting to allow single-corporation ownership of local news sources, both newspapers and TV stations, Sue Wilson writes for the Sacramento Bee.