Mark Wilson

Apple appeals against $14 billion European tax bill with 14-point legal plea

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Last year Apple was hit with $14 billion tax bill after the European Commission decided the company had enjoyed "illegal tax benefits" in Ireland. Apple said that it would appeal against the ruling which Tim Cook described as "maddening", but Europe is showing increased interest in cracking down on technology companies taking advantage of tax loopholes.

The appeal has now been placed, and Apple is asking the appeal court to either partly overturn the Commission's ruling and pay its legal fees, or completely overturn the ruling. That fact that Apple is setting forth two possible outcomes would indicate that it feels a full annulment of the original ruling is unlikely, but it has submitted a 14-point appeal.

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Microsoft confirms another 2017 update after Windows 10 Creators Update

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If you're not a Windows Insider, it has been a little while since your copy of Windows 10 received a major update -- but that is about to change. 2017 will see the release of not one, but two major updates to the operating system.

Windows 10 Creators Update is due to arrive in the spring, and at Microsoft Ignite in Australia, the company confirmed that a second major update is on the way later in the year. We don’t know a great deal about this update, but it's likely to incorporate Project NEON design elements.

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Europe still has concerns about privacy in Windows 10

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Privacy fears abound with Windows 10, with individuals and privacy groups continually questioning the company's motives in gathering user data. The threat of a court case in Switzerland resulted in Microsoft making changes to Windows -- in addition to the privacy changes it had already made.

But for European privacy watchdogs, the latest batch of changes are still not enough. The Article 29 Working Party voices concern about the settings that are in place by default, the lack of control users are given over data collection, and a general lack of transparency.

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You almost certainly need an SD card for your Nintendo Switch

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If you've ordered yourself a Nintendo Switch you had better prepare to crack open your wallet and splash out on an SD card. Nintendo has shared details of the size of the console's digital games, and at least one of them simply won’t fit on the internal storage.

The company reveals that Dragon Quest Heroes I·II weighs in at a sizeable 32 GB -- exactly the same size as the Switch's built in storage, which is already home to the required system files. Other games are big enough to mean that even if you're not interested in Dragon Quest Heroes I·II, an SD card is going to be pretty much essential.

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Kim Dotcom can be extradited to the US

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Kim Dotcom, the larger-than-life character behind file-sharing services Megaupload and Mega, can be extradited from New Zealand to the US. The German national has taken up permanent residency in New Zealand and has been fighting calls for him to face the US legal system.

The judgement came as part of an appeal to a previous ruling which was heard back in September. While the judge today, on the face of things, has ruled against Dotcom, the court case could yet go in favor of him due to various technicalities.

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Google and Microsoft agree to demote search results for pirated movies, music and streaming sport

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Users of Google and Bing will find it more difficult to track down illegal content via the search engines after Google and Microsoft signed up to a voluntary code of practice. The deal means that pirate search results will be demoted in results in the UK, making it less likely that searchers will click on them.

The two technology companies have been in talks with the entertainment industry to find a way to stem the flow of illegal content that's available online. As well as protecting the rights of copyright holders, it is hoped that the new arrangement will help to protect users, as websites that deal in pirated material often pose a security risk.

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Google publishes details of Windows bug after Microsoft misses 90-day Project Zero disclosure deadline

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Google's Project Zero has proved controversial on several occasions already, with the search giant publicly revealing details of software bugs when companies fail to fix them. Now the project has unearthed a bug in Windows, and as Microsoft failed to patch it within 90 days of being notified, details of the flaw have been made available for everyone to see -- and exploit.

A problem with the Windows Graphics Component GDI library (gdi32.dll) means that a hacker could use EMF metafiles to access memory and wreak all sorts of havoc. While Microsoft has issued Security Bulletin MS16-074, Google's Mateusz Jurczyk says it failed to properly address the problem -- hence the public outing of the bug.

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Google to drop 30-second unskippable ads from YouTube

YouTube

Ads -- be they on TV, on the web or in apps -- can be deeply annoying, hence the prevalence of ad-blocking software. But there are some ads that you can't always avoid, such as those tacked onto the beginning of YouTube videos; not all ad-blocking software is made equal, after all.

If this is a bugbear of yours, there's good news on the horizon. While YouTube is not ditching ads altogether, the 30-second monstrosities which cannot be skipped are being dropped.

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Mark Zuckerberg's rambling letter covers fake news on Facebook, nudity and profanity -- and his ego

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In a lengthy missive that has been described by some as a manifesto, Mark Zuckerberg has written a counterattack to criticism of his beloved Facebook. He waxes lyrical about a rosy vision of the future in which communities come together, everyone is included, and everyone is empowered -- largely facilitated by him. For a man who denies he has political leanings, he certainly seems to have been studying Speaking Like A Politician 101. He is nothing if not almost impressively vague.

But when Zuckerberg is not massaging his own ego as he dreams up ways to save the world ("I hope we can come together to build a global community that works for everyone"), the content of the website he created still gets a mention. In the age of Trump there is endless talk of fake news, and Facebook has certainly played a role in helping this to spread. This, along with other problems, such as the spread of terrorist propaganda, is something Zuckerberg wants to combat, and he's placing a great deal of confidence in artificial intelligence and his beloved algorithms.

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Twitter tweaks blocking and muting in latest anti-abuse measures

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Having just introduced the idea of restricted timeouts for abusive users, Twitter has unveiled yet more measures designed to counter abuse and harassment. Now if you have blocked or muted a user, you'll no longer be notified of replies to a conversation by that user.

You will still, however, receive notifications of replies to the conversation if they come from people you follow, so you are not completely cut out. It has been warmly received by Twitter users, many of whom believe this is how things should have been from the beginning.

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Twitter slaps abusive accounts with temporary timeouts

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After promising to do something to tackle the problem of harassment, Twitter recently announced plans to stop repeat offenders. An even more recent tweak to lists backfired, and the latest measure sees abusers hit with a timeout rather than a ban.

It is an attempt to placate those who want to see something being done, while simultaneously trying not to anger those affected. The restrictions seem to be -- at the moment -- limited to hiding the offender's tweet to everyone but his or her followers, but it's possible that others may be implemented as well.

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Google partners with Telenor to bring enhanced RCS messaging to Europe and Asia

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A potential successor to SMS has received strong backing from Google as it partners with Telenor to launch RCS messaging in Europe and Asia. Rich Communications Services is more feature-rich than traditional SMS and Google's latest partnership sees the technology spreading outside of the US and Canada.

With support for features such as group chat, read receipts and high resolution image sharing, RCS has a lot going for it. There's just one catch. In integrating RCS support into Android, Google is providing the "upgraded SMS experience" through its own Messenger app.

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Job ads on Facebook mean you could apply for your next position through the social network

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Ads on Facebook are something of a pain, but they could actually about to become rather more useful. Starting tomorrow, the social network will allow business pages to host job ads and anyone interested in the positions will be able to apply directly via Facebook.

Job ads on Facebook were trialed towards the end of last year, but the official rollout starts now. It's a change that sees Facebook treading firmly on LinkedIn's toes, and it's something that has the potential to work well for Facebook, employers and job applicants alike.

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Google expands fact checking to help tackle fake news

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It's something that should delight Donald Trump -- Google is helping to fight fake news. Whether the company's move to help keep web users better informed is in keeping with the US president's penchant for "alternative facts" remains to be seen, but for everyone else it is great news.

Google is far from being the first technology company to lend its support to the fake news fighting army -- Facebook and the BBC are already doing their bit too. The expansion of Google News fact checking means that the Fact Check label is spreading further around the globe, giving people in more parts of the world the assurance that what they're reading has been verified.

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Yahoo notifies users about 'forged cookie' security breaches and it could cost the company millions

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Yahoo -- or, rather, its users -- have not been doing very well recently when it comes to security. Having already revealed details of a huge historic attack that led to the theft of details for millions of accounts, Yahoo is now notifying an unknown number of users that their accounts may have been breached by hackers using forged cookies.

At the same time, Bloomberg is suggesting that the impending deal with Verizon has been renegotiated. The latest revelations coupled with the previous security issues could have just cost Yahoo $250 million.

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