Entries with tag european commission.

EC Announces Probe into Apple’s Tax Agreement with Ireland

The European Commission (EC) is investigating Apple for its tax practices in Ireland. The country reportedly has a complex tax deal with the company that allows Apple to avoid paying all of the taxes for which it would normally be responsible. Apple claims it has not received special treatment from Irish authorities. Company records show its effective tax rate on non-US income in 2013 was 3.7 percent. Ireland’s corporate taxes are typically 12.5 percent.  Apple negotiated a tax payment of less than 2 percent according to US Senate records. The average corporate tax rate in the nations where Apple does business was 24 percent in 2013. The Irish government has said it has not broken any rules. The EC is also investigating Starbucks and Fiat for their tax agreements with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. On the whole, this sort of corporate tax avoidance and evasion has cost the EU cost about 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) a year. Other investigations are pending, according to Bloomberg reports. The US Senate, in a 2013 investigation, accused Ireland of giving preferential tax treatment to Apple that enabled the company to avoid paying billions in taxes. (Reuters)(BBC)(Bloomberg)(The New York Times)

EU Commissioner: Internet Governance Should Be Global

The European Union is seeking an expanded role in Internet governance. The management and operations of the Internet must be reformed, said EU digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes upon proposing a new Internet governance policy. One of the keys is globalizing the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which assigns top-level Internet domains. In light of the recent release of information about widespread Internet surveillance by US government agencies, various world leaders have questioned whether the US is a worthy Internet steward. Instead, said Kroes, Internet governance must become more global, transparent, and inclusive. The EU says governance should not be ceded to the United Nations but instead should be handled by all stakeholders, including governments, companies, civil society, and others. (SlashDot)(Network World)(The Wall Street Journal)(EUROPA)

European Commission Still Unsatisfied with Google Anti-Trust Proposal

Google has failed to improve concessions to settle a European Union investigation regarding anti-competitive behavior. Without settling the charges, it faces formal charges and a fine of as much as $5 billion. Google has been under investigation for three years regarding complaints from competitors that it has blocked them in search results. Joaquin Almunia, commissioner for the EU, says Google has a short time in which to submit a satisfactory proposal as its revisions did not allay concerns including how it presented results in specialized or vertical searches. Google had offered several concessions  including allowing competitors to display their logos and making their web links more prominent to users and also decreased the bids for paid advertisements on search results. The European Commission hopes to close the case in spring 2014. (The New York Times @ The Boston Globe)(Reuters)

Samsung EU Antitrust Case Nears Settlement

Only minor changes are reportedly needed before an offer submitted by Samsung is approved by European regulators, resolving a pending antitrust claim against the company, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. If approved, the settlement would close the EU’s two-year investigation and might let Samsung avoid fines of up to $17.3 billion, or 10 percent of its 2012 revenues. The EU’s claim involves Samsung’s patent-related dispute with Apple. The EU accused Samsung of using court injunctions against Apple to thwart competition, thereby breaching European antitrust regulations. (Bloomberg Businessweek)(Slash Gear) 

EU May Be Nearing Antitrust Settlement with Google

The EU and Google may be nearing an agreement in the antitrust case brought against the search giant. EU commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia said in a speech before the European parliament that a set of commitments that Google recently proposed could result in a legally binding settlement between the parties by the spring of 2014. Without a settlement, Google faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its global revenue, which is about $5 billion. The EU has accused Google of unfair business practices, specifically using its market position to continue dominating the European search market. For example, European officials say Google gives preference to search results involving its own products, such as Google Maps and YouTube. The commission is seeking to end unequal treatment of third-party search engines, as well as advertising restrictions it places on other companies. Google now proposes that its rivals’ results will be prominently displayed with their logo and explanatory text. The page position of competitors’ results within the returned Google search results will be selected via an auction system still under development, which would allow competitors to bit for placement in search results. Google currently has about 90 percent of the European Internet search market. (The Guardian)(Information Week)(European Commission)

EU Says Google Concessions Inadequate

The European Commission says Google’s proposed resolutions to an ongoing anti-trust investigation are insufficient and do not alleviate concerns about blocking competitors in web search results. Joaquin Almunia, the European Competition Commissioner stated at a Wednesday news conference that he has asked Google to submit improved concessions. The search giant, which has roughly an 80 percent share of the search market in Europe, originally submitted proposed concessions to the European Commission in April to resolve a three-year investigation. It offered to mark its products in search results, provide links to at least three rival sites in results, and allow advertisers to move to competing search services. Google could be subject to significant fines if the matter is not resolved. It had been thought the matter could be concluded by year’s end. Google says it stands by its current offer. (Reuters)(CNET) 

New European Regulations Require Companies to Disclose Breaches

Under new EU regulations, any ISP or telecommunications provider serving the European market that suffers a security or data breach that leads to theft, loss, or compromise of data must disclose it within 24 hours. They will be required to provide information about the breach’s exact nature and size, and disclose all details about the event within three days. They will also have to disclose the information that was compromised and any steps they took to resolve the matter. For breaches in which personal information or privacy were compromised, ISPs and providers will have to notify customers and the appropriate national data-protection authority. The European Commission said this will clarify existing regulations, ensuring that all customers are getting equal treatment. The commission also intends to give companies incentives for encrypting personal data and, with the European Network and Information Security Agency, plans to publish a list of these possible protections for data. Any company that encrypts personal data that experiences a data breach would be exempt from notifications. (SlashDot)(European Commission)

Google Facing Added EU Concessions

Google may have to make more concessions to resolve an EU antitrust case regarding its online search and advertising businesses. And, said EU commissioner Joaquín Almunia, Google may still face formal charges for violating European anticompetitive-practices laws for alleged abuses of its position as a dominant search engine in the world market. To avoid sanctions across the continent, Google recently offered several suggestions to address the commission’s concerns, including promising to link to competing services in its search results. The company says it is continuing to work with the commission to reach a resolution. The EC is currently reviewing these and has extended the comment period for parties involved in the case by an additional month. Almunia said he expects the commission will ask Google to improve its proposals. Critics say the European Commission has been too soft on Google and should impose stronger remedies than those Google has proposed. The EU expects to reach a legally binding settlement with Google by year’s end. (Forbes)(PC Mag)(The New York Times)

Preliminary Antitrust Finding Made Against Google Subsidiary in Europe

Google’s Motorola Mobility, a telecommunications equipment maker, is abusing its dominant position in the EU by seeking and enforcing an injunction against Apple in Germany related to mobile phone patents, according to an initial antitrust review by the European Commission. The EC launched its investigation to determine whether Motorola Mobility is abusing its industry-essential patents to prohibit sales of products by competitors. Motorola Mobility reportedly sought an injunction against Apple in Germany regarding use of a patent related to the European Telecommunications Standardization Institute’s General Packet Radio Service standard for data, despite Apple’s offer to pay royalties. The patent in question is The EC preliminarily found that Motorola’s actions harm competition and result in less consumer choice. The next step before the EC makes formal antitrust charges is for the parties to submit responses to the initial findings and request a hearing. (Computerworld)(The New York Times)(European Commission)

New EU Complaint Lodged Against Microsoft

A Spanish open-source group filed a complaint with the European Commission against Microsoft Tuesday. Hispalinux claims Windows 8 has a feature that makes it difficult for a user to easily install alternative operating systems. Microsoft reportedly claims this mechanism is a security feature users have known about. The company stated it is “confident our approach complies with the law and helps keep customers safe.” Hispalinux, an 8,000-member group of Linux users and developers, says in the 14-page complaint, The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot in Windows 8 serves as “a de facto technological jail for computer booting systems... making Microsoft's Windows platform less neutral than ever.” Users wishing to install another operating system must obtain keys from Microsoft to be able to do so. The net effect is anti-competitive and bad for users and the software industry, claims the group. Earlier this month, the European Commission fined Microsoft 561m euros (£484m) for failing to offer users a choice of web browser, bringing the total fines levied against it for violating EU business rules in the past decade 2.2 billion euros ($2.83 billion), according to Reuters. (BBC)(Reuters)

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