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Eating the Crappy Stuff

19 February Subscribe
Tech news, HAT-slanted 
Issue 133

To whom do your allegiances lie

France is going to start charging foreign Internet companies taxes for revenues earned on their soil. It's going to cost Google and Facebook 3% of national revenues to continue operating in the country. Bam.

The take I read that stuck most about this news divided the commentary they had seen into a pair of camps. One held that tax revenue was the right of the creative economy, and that attempts to abscond with it amounted to little more than jealousy.

The other identified that the yielders of the revenue powering said tax were French. Why should France not be entitled to some of that $5b or so worth of fresh income?

This is a trade-war-engaging initiative, as the US will likely/possibly respond with an inquiry that condemns it (as threatening in the very least their stranglehold on global economic domination). Overall, the kinds of companies we're talking about here only pay about 8-9% tax on their profits in the EU, whereas a conventional business does so to the tune of 23%. But there is a danger. Unlike traditional globalisation, where supply chains are more transparent, the digital and data chains that power Internet businesses are not - at all. Putting tax at the wrong boundary is not unlike damming water coming down a mountain. It may give you a lovely power source but it could also flood the neighbouring village. 

Taken as an incentive to appropriately find a way (together) to tax global digital businesses, this is a swift kick towards greater global economic cooperation. 

Taken instead as a global assault on the US' sovereignty as supreme lord and master of the Internet company, it's a casus belli. Thank goodness global politics is nicely warm and fuzzy at the moment.

Yours in HAT,

Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The present

The past

Just a casual 41,000 earthworm coming back to life.

The future

There are people in America writing about plans to tax US corporations that draw value from user data, and pass those earnings back on to the consumer. Among the more amusing tall tales we've ever heard...

The doghouse

In addition to the lede story, UK regulators are flexing under GDPR with Marriott and British Airways as well. In June 2018 the UK's biggest airline breached 500,000 users' personal data, for which they have now been fined £183m, and in November 2018 the hotel chain exposed 330,000,000 guests' hotel records. They have been fined £100m

There are more people sleeping on the streets in San Francisco than there are in the whole of the UK.

Amazon has a new program to train up to 100,000 of its warehouse workers that it hopes will distract you from its inhumane warehouse working conditions.

Trump and the FTC have fined Facebook $5,000,000,000 for its many recent transgressions. The price is big, but not big enough to stop the behemoth.

Is your browsing data worth $10? Amazon's price comparison plug-in for Chrome and Firefox tracks where you go online, and was offered to consumers on Prime Day for a $10 discount on some of their shopping. Now we can all rest assured that it's not just Google and Facebook's pixels watching everything we do online.


Technology evolution in gif-form

HAT News

Impact. Looking for interesting insights into how personal data accounts can be used internationally to do good - get in touch if you have fun ideas.

Payment. Scoped a new potential partner last week, in a great conversation about how the future of money and payments is digital. It ain't all blockchain, people.

Back. Irene's back! She was in Europe but now she's back! We have all had to stop procrastinating as a result.

Jonathan Holtby, HAT Community Manager

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