Tag: Apple

Europe Gets Apple Right

 

iPhone_6_PLUS_preview_MG_1875On August 30, the European Commission issued a blockbuster ruling that required Ireland to recoup, with interest, the €13 billion in tax benefits that it has granted Apple since 1991. The tax breaks, the commission held, violated the European Union’s “state aid rules” that no company should be given preferential treatment under the law.

The decision elicited a strong reaction from Apple CEO Tim Cook who denounced it as “total political crap.” He was not alone in this belief. Holman Jenkins, Jr., writing in The Wall Street Journal, for example, said the decision was motivated by the European Commission’s desire to impose “tax harmonization” on all EU members as a way of “defending Europe’s stagnant social model,” which could not generate any Amazons, Googles, or Facebooks on its own. The United States Treasury echoed the same theme in a white paper that anticipated the EC’s ruling. And now Ireland, backed by Apple and Treasury, has decided to appeal the EC decision to the European Courts. Who is right, and why?

My initial judgment—always subject to revision on the strength of additional information—is that the EC was correct in its decision. In making this assessment, I admit that I harbor a deep suspicion of the EC in its multiple roles. In general, there is much to the charge that the EC’s policies are prejudiced against American companies that do business in the EU. But it is one thing to start with a strong presumption, and another to put the pieces together in a prudent fashion.

Apple, Ireland, and American Policy

 

Looking for consistency or an underlying set of principles in either candidate’s platform and campaign promises is a mug’s game, but I’d like to know how Ricochet views the EU’s judgement against Apple, and how they’d expect the two candidates to view it based on their official platforms and other statements about related issues.

Both candidates have promised to crack down on companies that relocate their operations overseas to lower their tax bills. So in principle, both candidates should be delighted that the EU ordered Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in taxes from Apple. But “in principle” doesn’t really apply to any discussion of our presidential race, so I really can’t guess how they’d view it. The majority view in the US seems to be that the judgment is outrageous, even though the candidates of both major parties favor policies that would be consistent with the ruling.

Member Post

 

Color me naïve, but it seems to me that there is an easier solution to the Apple decryption problem than a court result. Why doesn’t the FBI simply hand the iPhone to Apple, have the Apple programmers decode the encrypted information in any manner they want and send the resulting data back to the FBI […]

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Apple, Originalism, and the All Writs Act

 

iPhone_6_PLUS_preview_MG_1875Originalism as a method of judicial interpretation is now irrelevant, some claimed after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. It never really worked and now it’s destined to fade away.

Tell that to federal magistrate judge James Orenstein in New York, who yesterday ruled for Apple in a case in which the feds had invoked the All Writs Act to demand the unlocking of the phone of suspected drug dealer Jun Feng (the case parallels the far higher-profile case of the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone).

The Act grants federal courts broad power to issue “necessary or appropriate” writs, which the government would like to interpret to include types of writ Congress has declined to authorize explicitly even after considering doing so. In Judge Orenstein’s reasoning, it matters very much what the All Writs Act was understood to mean at the time of its passage in 1789.

The Proper Relationship Between Government and Business

 

imageBack when I was moonlighting as a Pinkerton security guard in 1976 or 1977, there was some labor trouble at the manufacturing plant where I worked. I don’t recall the exact order in which things happened, but the workers replaced the UAW with the Teamsters in an acrimonious process, and a Teamsters guy came to help them conduct negotiations for a new contract.

One night, when things had been getting heated, my supervisor stopped by at the beginning of my shift and told me what had happened during the day. Congressman Rick Nolan, a leftwing Democrat, had made an appearance at the plant to insert himself into the process. The plant manager accosted him, asking “What the hell are you doing here?” and ordered him off the property.

I had considerable sympathy with the plant workers then and now — and this plant manager didn’t particularly like me — but I think that this encounter demonstrated the proper relationship between government and business. I thought about it when President Obama met with social media companies, strong-arming them to help in the fight against terrorism, which I presume is what has led to things like Twitter’s increased belligerence in shadow-banning of conservatives. A more proper relationship between business and government would have had these companies ordering the president off their property, so to speak.

What about Guarding the Front Door?

 

iPhone_6_PLUS_preview_MG_1875Yesterday, we learned that US Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone of San Bernardino murderer Syed Rizwan Farook. Perhaps mindful of King Canute’s experience stopping the tide, the judge stopped short of commanding Farook’s phone to reveal the encrypted data directly, instead instructing Apple to reorient its developers from productive endeavors to undermining its own carefully constructed software- and hardware-based security architecture.

Not long ago, conservatives were appalled when Congress passed and the Supreme Court upheld a law requiring citizens to purchase a particular product — Obama-certified health insurance. Now we have a federal judge, drawing authority solely from the All Writs Act of 1789, ordering a private company to create a custom product for the government’s use. And what a product! If implemented, the judge’s order will create a weaponized piece of software capable of taking down the world’s second most valuable company. Collateral damage could include large swathes of our globally-connected economy. Hyperbole? Read the relevant portion of the order for yourself and imagine what malicious hackers could do with such an app:

Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.

Member Post

 

As you’re already aware, the Federal government is suing Apple Inc to force Apple to provide software for breaking the encryption of an Apple phone owned by San Bernardino County and used by a county employee in the pursuit of his terror and his wife’s attack on county offices. Apple’s CEO has demurred and is […]

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I, Computer

 

Pasted image at 2015_10_15 07_38 AMI am a Macbook Air—the ordinary 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5 machine familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery—more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

Member Post

 

I get home from work, plug my iPod into my laptop like I always do, and everything seems normal until . . . My laptop (and iTunes) doesn’t recognize my iPod. Okay, it’s happened before, and that usually means I have an iTunes update I need to install. Normally after I install the update, it […]

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Member Post

 

Apple stuff just works. That is the hook for me. If I am in the office I live stream their events on my Mac while battling the markets on my Windows machine. Today was the big fall roll out of new gear.  These announcements are losing some of their surprise because media and equity research […]

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Member Post

 

I have a number of different PCs.  One continues to run XP, so that it can operate some old programs that only will work in the XP environment.  Most of the rest are on Windows 7 and one is (was) on Windows 8.1.  I have always disliked Windows 8.1 for all the reasons that are […]

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Member Post

 

I find it quite impossible to understand what is happening these days. For many moons, we humans poured the water of society into useful vessels.  The vessels we built were limiting and their shapes somewhat arbitrary but their existence allowed us to make good use of the water.  At some point we decided that our […]

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Something Comes Back Up the Memory Hole

 

shutterstock_191505491During a week of depressing news, undoubtedly the most absurd was the decision by Apple, Amazon, and other online retailers to pull games and merchandise that feature the Confederate Battle Flag. If ever there was a moment that appeared to herald the ascendency of the Social Justice Warriors, that appeared to be it.

As it so happens, the fait was not quite accompli. As Reason reports, many of the games and apps are back — unblemished — likely due to outrage from fans and the sheer madness of the decision.

As of this writing, however, Amazon isn’t selling — or allowing the resale of — actual Confederate Battle flags, though you can find other flags that incorporate the design. There are plenty of books available that feature the flag on their covers, for what (very little) that’s worth. And yes, you still have your choice of Che Guevara flags.

Member Post

 

Foxconn makes 70% of all iPhone 6 phones as well as an unknown percentage of iPhone 6S units. Foxconn has more manufacturing plants in the People’s Republic of China than in any other country. Further, Apple does big business selling in China selling hardware, running Apple Stores (18 in China vs 2 in Indiana), as […]

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Member Post

 

On Monday, Apple Inc’s Tim Cook presented Apple Watch. The wristwatch computer will cost from $349 to $1,099 or you can buy one in 18-karat gold for $10,000. Apple Watch has already attracted haters. A Guardian column issued nine talking points to explain that “only a tool would buy the Apple Watch.” Anna Kendrick tweeted that the $10,000 […]

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Solving Non-Problems at the Speed of Government

 

claytonAn anti-trust lawsuit that shows again the absurdity and irrationality of anti-trust laws:

The case involves two plaintiffs, Melanie (Tucker) Wilson and Marianna Rosen. Both are consumers who purchased audio downloads and iPods directly from Apple. They argue they paid more for iPods than they would have paid if Apple hadn’t violated antitrust regulations. In a 2010 filing, the plaintiffs said they “suffered injury” to their property “in the form of overcharges.” A third plaintiff, Somtai Troy Charoensak, dropped out of the case.

In case you didn’t follow that, the article elaborates: