Apple threatened to move project elsewhere without foreign trade zone
Arizona's Gilbert Unified School District has voted unanimously to allow the extension of a foreign trade zone at a nearby airport to a proposed Apple sapphire plant, reports say. The decision clears the last of eight local regulatory hurdles for the purchase and conversion of a former First Solar complex. The overhauled facility will actually be operated by GT Advanced Technologies, but GT is expected to provide most of its sapphire to Apple, who will compensate for $578 million in capital expenditures over the course of five years.
Suggests Apple may be complying with PRISM
Apple's data on requests by law enforcement indicates that the company is relying on a practice known as a "warrant canary," ArsTechnica observes. The concept involves publishing a notice that a warrant hasn't been served, and simply omitting/pulling the notice if the opposite is true. This can be a way of getting around gag orders that prevent organizations from disclosing their compliance with government surveillance.
Rare political statement by Apple executive
In a Sunday editorial for the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Tim Cook asked US senators to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a cloture vote scheduled to take place on Monday. ENDA is meant to prevent businesses from discriminating based on gender or sexual orientation. Although the Act has the backing of President Obama and 59 senators, it's one senator short of the 60 needed to defeat any Republican filibuster attempt. That makes it critical for ENDA's backers to swing any moderate Republicans, if possible.
Political divisions continue to impact app
Taiwan's foreign ministry has issued a complaint to Apple about the way the country is characterized in Maps, reports say. In both iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, Maps lists Taiwan as a province of China. "The maps don't acknowledge Taiwan as its own nation. We voiced our disapproval and hope Apple will make the change," a ministry official states. While many Taiwanese consider themselves independent, the Chinese government considers the country a possession, which in the past has led to political conflict and threats of war. Apple has yet to respond on the matter.
School district has yet to meet order threshold for promised discount
The Los Angeles Unified School District is running well over budget in its plan to equip 47 schools with iPads, the Los Angeles Times reports. The program was originally budgeted for $50 million, but this was based on an early iPad pricing estimate putting each tablet at $650; in all $20.3 million was budgeted for iPads, the rest going to needed training and infrastructure. When the program was formally announced this summer iPad pricing had already crept up to $678, and budget disclosures now reveal that the District is actually paying about $770 per device, adding another $4 million to the program's cost.
Change expected to have little practical benefit for government budgets
The Irish government is considering the elimination of a tax loophole exploited by a number of foreign corporations, most notably Apple, reports say. Currently, Apple's Cork-based subsidiaries -- including Apple Operations International (AOI), Apple Operations Europe, Apple Sales International, and Apple Distribution International -- are "stateless" for Irish tax purposes, since they're managed and controlled from outside the country. This has allowed Apple's to dodge Ireland's 12.5 percent standard corporate tax rate, and pay less than 2 percent in taxes in the US. Between 2009 and 2011 Apple funneled billions of dollars through AOI without paying taxes to any government.
Small range of phones affected
Samsung did not receive a hoped-for Obama administration veto of an ITC import ban, according to an official statement by US Trade Representative Michael Froman. "After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow [the ban to take effect]," says Froman. Just a small number of older, generally outdated phones will be affected, since more recent devices have worked around the two Apple patents that form the basis for the ban. The patents involve aspects of multi-touch technology and a sensor for headphone jacks.
Lack of veto could instill worries about pro-US bias
The Obama administration has until midnight Eastern time tonight to overturn an impending International Trade Commission ban on some older Samsung devices, reports note. Earlier this year, the administration vetoed an ITC import ban on AT&T models of Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad 2. While the ban against Samsung would only affect a small number of outdated phones, that company and others have argued that failing to issue a veto could be a sign of economic protectionism, since Apple is US-based while Samsung is headquartered in South Korea. The administration has claimed that it opposes using patents to block competitors.
Final go-ahead dependent on City Council vote
Cupertino's planning commission has voted to approve Apple's future "spaceship" campus, officially known as Campus 2. The vote took place on Wednesday, following a Tuesday night "shared study session" with public participation. Final approval is only waiting for a vote by the Cupertino City Council, which is expected to take place October 15th.
Laws would only offer more precision in reporting gov't. requests
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Yahoo are among the companies that have signed a new Center for Democracy and Technology letter asking the US Congress to pass Rep. Zoe Lofgren's (D-CA) Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013, and Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013. The bills were first introduced in August, and would let companies be more precise about when and how often they receive national security-related requests and hand data over to the government.
Change linked to loosened US sanctions on Iranian trade
Apple will start selling hardware to people planning to bring them to Iran, according to an official statement. The company tells the Wall Street Journal that the policy change is a result of a May 30th decision by the US Treasury Department, easing trade sanctions. "We’ve been told by the US government that most Apple products are covered by regulatory changes announced by the Treasury Department," a spokeswoman explains. "As a result, Apple is no longer banned from selling Macs and iOS devices to customers who plan to bring or send those products to Iran."
Fountain moved slightly to accommodate new steps
Apple has presented revised plans for its upcoming Union Square Apple Store to San Francisco city officials, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The plans were submitted Monday, and mayor Ed Lee says he is "happy" that Apple was able to work with city planners to keep a popular fountain by Ruth Asawa near its current location. Apple has also added things like a glass "notch" to a wall along Stockton Street, which would otherwise have been a featureless, 80-foot-long block of steel.
Asks for 'fair and reasonable' decision on possible ban of Samsung goods
The South Korean government has issued a statement expressing worries about the Obama administration veto of an ITC ban on some Apple products. The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy says that the decision could harm Samsung's patent rights, and that it will be paying close attention on Friday, when the ITC is expected to rule on a possible ban of some of Samsung's Galaxy devices. "We hope to see a fair and reasonable decision on the matter," the ministry states.
Position has some political support
The BSA -- a group representing technology companies like Oracle, Intel, and Microsoft -- has taken a position against banning products based on infringements of standards-essential patents, a Wall Street Journal article notes. The move appears to have been spurred by a possible ITC ban of some older AT&T-model iPhones and iPads. Samsung scored the ruling in a complaint against Apple.
Companies escape scrutiny via 'Safe Harbour' self-certification rules
The Irish Office of the Data Protection Commissioner says it won't investigate Apple and Facebook over their sharing personal data with the US' National Security Agency, according to New Europe. Both Apple and Facebook have their European headquarters in Ireland, and an Austrian student activist group -- europe-v-facebook -- asked the ODPC to look into claims that the NSA collects emails and other private information from the companies through its Prism spying initiative. The ODPC states that the companies are covered under "Safe Harbour," which allows US companies to self-certify themselves as compliant with European Union data laws as long as they agree to a set of principles intended to protect how personal data is used.
Possible sales ban wouldn't affect Verizon directly
Verizon's general counsel, Randal Milch, has published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling for the Obama administration to veto an International Trade Commission ban on some iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4 sales. In June the ITC ruled that AT&T versions of the phones must be removed from sale by August 5th. Even though it wouldn't directly affect Verizon -- which has never sold the 3G or 3GS, and carries a different model of the 4 -- Milch claims that the ban would set a bad precedent.
Could restore lost tax revenue
Presenting at the ongoing G20 summit in Moscow, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has revealed a 40-page plan meant to undo tax avoidance schemes used by companies like Apple and Google. Multinational corporations will use strategies such as dumping patent rights into shell companies, or claiming interest deductions in one country without reporting taxable profits in another. The proposal would develop rules over the next two years to counter the schemes, and force companies to detail where they report their income.
Local laws allow companies to dodge normal tax rates
The Irish parliament has rejected a motion to allow a Subcommittee on Global Taxation to call representatives from corporations like Apple and Google to testify, according to reports. Pearse Doherty, a member of the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform tried to get the motion passed earlier this week, but was denied. The Subcommittee is considering how foreign companies exploit Irish tax laws to avoid paying fair taxes in Ireland or elsewhere.
Fountain may stay
San Francisco's city planning department has called for changes to Apple's upcoming Union Square store in a preliminary project assessment, the San Francisco Chronicle says. Apple's current proposal was sharply criticized in May, mainly for issues like an 80-foot blank wall along Stockton Street, and the expected removal of a popular fountain sculpted by Ruth Asawa. The Chronicle's coverage drew attention from SF mayor Ed Lee, who said he would re-examine Apple's plans.
Instagram hosts photo gallery of celebrations
At least two major high-tech companies have issued statements supporting today's US Supreme Court decisions related to gay marriage, according to AllThingsD. "Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we consider it a civil rights issue. We applaud the Supreme Court for its decisions today," a message from an Apple spokesman reads. HP, meanwhile, is pointing to its history of supporting gay causes. "HP has more than 30 years of partnership with and participation in pride events, and works throughout the year to build and strengthen HP as an organization that values all employees, customers and communities," says Michael Thacker, the global communications chair for HP's Pride Employee Resource Group. "Our sponsorship at San Francisco Pride this year is a great example of how HP is committed to diversity and to creating a flexible, inclusive environment for everyone inside and outside of the company," Thacker's PR concludes.
Public to get chance to comment on issues like deforestation
The City of Cupertino is scheduled to host a public meeting Wednesday on the environmental impact of Apple's upcoming "spaceship" campus, officially known as Campus 2. The meeting starts at 6:30PM at the Cupertino Community Hall, and will offer the public an opportunity to raise questions or argue for or against changes. People who can't attend in person will be able to watch a live stream or submit comments online.
Advisory panel granted 2-month extension on device report for FAA
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is close to loosening the restrictions on electronics on planes, after a long period of deliberation, according to a report. Recommendations from a 28-member high-level advisory panel and industry officials in a draft report are apparently leading the FAA to lift the ban on the use of personal electronics at low altitudes.
Every student to have access to an iPad
Apple has won a $30 million contract to provide iPads to every student in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the LA Times reports. The Board of Education voted 6-0 in favor after hearing senior staff claim that the iPad was both the best and least expensive option for meeting the District's specifications. The tablet "received the highest scoring by the students and the teachers," according to Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino. The vote authorizes deployment at 47 campuses; since Apple is the only authorized vendor though, the District will end up paying hundreds of millions to Apple over the course of two years.
Touts benefits of Apple business, needed construction work
Apple has published a new report on the expected economic impact of its upcoming "spaceship" campus, known formally as Campus 2. The 64-page document (PDF) was assembled by Keyser Marston Associates for the City of Cupertino. It touts the benefits of Apple operations to the cities of Cupertino, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale, as well as Santa Clara County. "With net annual sales in excess of $156 billion, 16,000 employees currently based in the Cupertino area, and annual purchases from local Silicon Valley-based businesses of $4.6 billion, Apple is a cornerstone of the Silicon Valley economy and of the fiscal resources of the City of Cupertino," one part of the report reads.
Popular fountain would be removed under current Apple plans
San Francisco mayor Ed Lee says he will take a look at Apple's plans to build a new store at Union Square, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Earlier this week the paper aired criticisms about Apple's proposal, which would include the presence of a long, blank wall along Stockton Street, and the removal of a popular fountain. Prior to the Chronicle's story, city politicians had expressed their support for the store.
Says old tax laws at issue
A former New Hampshire Senator, John Sununu, is defending Apple's exploitation of tax laws in a Boston Globe editorial published on Monday. Sununu points out that none of Apple's actions have been illegal, only in line with what other multinational corporations would do, which is minimize taxes owed wherever possible. Instead, Sununu blames the billions companies like Apple are stashing offshore on Congress failing to change US tax laws.
Documents Apple's defense against accusations of tax dodging
Apple has posted the opening statements two of its executives -- CEO Tim Cook (PDF) -- and CFO Peter Oppenheimer (PDF) -- made during their testimony in front of the US Senate earlier today. The documents don't reveal anything new, but do constitute a record of Apple's stance during the Senate hearing. "We pay all of the taxes we owe -- every single dollar. We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws," Cook's statement reads.
Complains about speed of court system
In a brief sidetrack during his Senate testimony today, Apple CEO Tim Cook voiced his opinion on US intellectual property law. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) asked Cook about the IP benefits of running a company in the US versus other countries, but appears to have been surprised when Cook took a critical tone. "I actually think that we require much more work on IP in this country," he said.
Apple to be used as example of corporate tax avoidance in US
In the wake of Apple's published testimony, US Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) have released their own joint statement on the work of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. "Apple Inc. has used a complex web of offshore entities -- including three foreign subsidiaries the company claims are not tax resident in any nation -- to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes," Levin's office writes.
Pushes agenda friendly to repatriating foreign cash
A day ahead of CEO Tim Cook's planned appearance in front of the US Senate, Apple has published its official testimony (PDF) for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In the document, the company lobbies for corporate tax reform, specifically arguing that the government should be "revenue neutral, eliminate all corporate tax expenditures, lower corporate income tax rates; and implement a reasonable tax on foreign earnings that allows free movement of capital back to the US." Apple has roughly $100 billion in overseas cash, which it has refused to repatriate unless it can pay less than the standard 35 percent tax rate.
Apple, other companies accused of trying to avoid tax share
Apple will be the focus of a US Senate hearing next Tuesday, Politico says it has learned. The company's CEO, Tim Cook, is expected to testify in front of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation regarding offshore tax practices. Other witnesses are also expected to speak, such as representatives from the Treasury Department and the IRS.
Company complies with government censorship
Apple has pulled "at least one" app from the Chinese App Store for containing books banned by the Chinese government, the Financial Times reports. Although the name of the app hasn't been identified, it is said to have provided access to 10 books, include three by political activist Wang Lixiong, whose works are mostly illegal in the country. The banned books in the app discuss Tibet, the future collapse of the Chinese government, and a visit by Wang to Xinjiang, followed by his detention by state security.
Prohibitions against phones likely to stay in place
The US Federal Aviation Administration is hoping to announce looser restrictions on in-flight use of portable electronics by the end of 2013, according to sources for the New York Times. The people belong to an industry working group set up by the FAA, and add that the latter is specifically considering allowing reading devices during takeoff and landing, including tablets and e-readers. Devices may still have to be set to Airplane mode, though, and cellphones are expected to remain off-limits.
Adds to political support for
A group of US Senators, including Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have introduced a bill that would restore rights to unlock phones after a contract has expired. Called the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, the legislation would undo a Library of Congress ruling from last year which stripped unlocking protections from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Beyond Franken, other politicians behind the bill include Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Says workers can't be treated equally with law in place
The US Defense of Marriage Act "hurts legally married same-sex couples and prevents companies from treating all employees as equals," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling tells AllThingsD. "Apple strongly supports marriage equality and we hope the Supreme Court will declare the law unconstitutional." The quote comes in response to questions about Apple's participation in legal measures against DoMA and California's Proposition 8.
Major tech companies wield influence on American government
Google increased the amount it spent on lobbying the US government 90 percent year-over-year in 2012, according to data compiled by Fortune. The company ended up spending $18.22 million, easily beating out any other American technology firm. Microsoft, in fact, came in second place with $8.09 million, despite likewise increasing its spending. Other major tech businesses that funneled more money toward lobbying last year included HP, Facebook, and Amazon.
Culpability depends on which trips were paid for
Apple could be guilty of trying to bribe Russian officials through a seminar in London, according to Russian news agency Regnum. The service says that Apple is organizing a week-long event during which Russian regional ministers of education and other officials, responsible for public purchases, will be familiarized with Apple products. People participating in the event will stay in downtown London, and visit Apple Stores outside customer hours.
Promotes site in rare interview
The widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, has launched a new website to help her promotion of the Dream Act. The site, The Dream is Now, features videos of immigrants who would benefit from the act's passing. The project was completed with the help of filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, best known for An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman. The former film, notably, centered around the climate change activism of current Apple board member Al Gore.
Mayor's office suggests crime would otherwise be down
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is blaming a surge in thefts of Apple products for an increase in the city's overall crime rate, says the New York Times. Bloomberg made the comments during his weekly radio show. Statistics published this week by the New York Police Department show 3,484 more major crimes in 2012 than last yea; the number of Apple product thefts, meanwhile, is up by 3,890. "If you just took away the jump in Apple, we’d be down for the year," adds the mayor's press secretary, Marc La Vorgna.
Apps, websites to require consent before obtaining data
The US Federal Trade Commission has formally updated rules derived from the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, better known as COPPA, says the Wall Street Journal. The act was originally passed by Congress in 1998, but subsequent evolution of the Internet prompted the FTC to start reconsidering its enforcement in 2010. Influenced by feedback, proposed changes started emerging last year.
Sites in Texas, California also allegedly under consideration
The states of Oregon and New York may be competing for a chip factory under consideration by an Apple supplier, says The Oregonian. Oregon's economic development agency, Business Oregon, says it is trying to recruit a company operating under the codename "Azalea." A non-disclosure agreement is preventing any more details from emerging, though a similar project --tagged with a "Project Azalea" codename -- is being pursued in New York state.
Cuomo mentions Apple has interested party
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has hinted that Apple may be connected to a plan for a chip factory in the state measuring some 3.2 million square feet, the Times Union reports. The factory was recently proposed to economic development officials in the state, but the company or companies behind the deal have been kept quiet. Apple's name has been speculated, but when approached, the Empire State Development Corporation refused to comment to the Union.
California Democrats ask FTC not to accuse Google of unfair acts
Two California congresspersons have weighed in on the looming FTC antitrust case against Google, asking the Federal Trade Commission to refrain from accusing the search giant of "unfair" acts in building its antitrust case. The lawmakers -- both of which have received campaign contributions from Google -- allege that a reliance on "unfair" acts in building the FTC's case would amount to the agency overreaching its authority in pursuance of a case. Such an overreach, they say, could lead to difficulties and uncertainties for companies, stifling economic growth.
JPMorgan's Jamie Dimion
US President Barack Obama recently called several CEOs for advice on dealing with the upcoming "fiscal cliff" faced by the federal government, according to a White House official in contact with CNN. Four executives have been named, including Apple's Tim Cook, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, Boeing's Jim McNerney, and Costco's Craig Jelinek. The calls follow meetings with other CEOs last week, including conversations with General Electric's Jeffery Immelt and American Express' Kenneth Chenault.
Fight over island chain extends into iOS 6
The South Korean government is demanding that Apple change the name of a chain of islets in iOS 6 Maps, the Korea Times reports. The chain is known as Dokdo in Korean, but Apple also lists the English (Liancourt Rocks) and Japanese (Takeshima) names for the land, reflecting the fact that both Korea and Japan dispute the land's ownership. "We protested to Apple’s Korean unit that, because Dokdo is clearly an integral part of our territory, the new reference is unacceptable and it should be marked as the Korean name of Dokdo wherever it is searched for," a Korean foreign ministry official comments. Previously Apple relied on data from Google, which uses just the Korean and English names, but is still believed to be unacceptable to the Korean government.
EPEAT, tracking among issues in Apple's agenda
Apple spent about $470,000 lobbying US Congresspeople during the second quarter of 2012, versus Google's $3,920,000, Fortune notes. New Congressional lobbying reports have been released, indicating that both companies spent slightly less during the quarter in their efforts to influence politicians. During the first quarter, Google spent $5,030,000, versus Apple's $500,000.
Effects of EPEAT withdrawal begin to ripple
The federal government has joined the list of US political bodies reconsidering Macs in the wake of Apple withdrawing products from EPEAT certification, according to a government source reached by Politico. A product's EPEAT rating is considered by many organizations looking to buy computers in bulk. The source notes that the federal government is currently in the process of making procurement decisions for fiscal 2013; officials are reportedly worried that with Apple backing out, other companies may follow suit, wrecking government attempts to buy environmentally friendly hardware.
Could be harbinger of wider problems for Apple
San Francisco will soon stop buying Macs for the city's 50 agencies, according to Department of Environment officials speaking with the Wall Street Journal. The officials say that within the next two weeks it will send out letters to agencies explaining that Macs "no longer qualify" for city money, following Apple's request to have 39 desktops, monitors, and notebooks pulled from a list of EPEAT-certified products. Workers will still be able to buy Macs, but only through a process described as "long" and "onerous."
Company may be looking to exert political influence
Apple CEO Tim Cook quietly met with several leaders of the US Congress last Tuesday, according to Fortune. Sit-down sessions are said to have been been organized with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The one person left out of the loop was House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, who was on her way back from Afghanistan when Cook was in Washington, DC.
Apple taxes correctly in EU says Luxembourg official
A Luxembourg official has spoken out against a recent investigation into Apple's tax avoidance strategies. In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, an executive director at the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office defended Apple and the country, saying they are applying EU tax law correctly.