Tech News

Facebook Abandons Flash, Apple Pays More Tax Than You… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 21-12-2015

Facebook hammers another nail in Flash’s coffin, Apple dismisses tax attacks, Hillary Clinton hasn’t got a clue, Making a Murderer debuts on YouTube, and advertising YouTube advertising on YouTube.

Facebook Adopts HTML5 Over Flash

Facebook is the latest company to ditch Adobe Flash, with the social network switching its video player to HTML5 What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More instead. All videos you watch on Facebook from now on will load in HTML5 by default, regardless of which Web browser you use. Facebook has been working on this for some time, debugging in order to ensure even older browsers are compatible.

In announcing the switch from Flash to HTML5, Facebook engineer Daniel Baulig said in a blog post, “We are continuing to work together with Adobe to deliver a reliable and secure Flash experience for games on our platform, but have shipped the change for video to all browsers by default.”

This is yet another nail in the coffin for Flash, which even Adobe admits is on its last legs. Unfortunately, Flash is so embedded in the way we use the Web that it will take years to eradicate it completely. Still, you can speed up its demise by personally uninstalling Flash Why Flash Needs to Die (And How You Can Get Rid of It) The Internet's relationship with Flash has been rocky for a while. Once, it was a universal standard on the web. Now, it looks like it may be headed to the chopping block. What changed? Read More . So, do it. Do it now!

Apple Defends Tax Record

During a 60 Minutes special, CEO Tim Cook defended Apple’s record on tax. Apple’s tax affairs have caused controversy for many years. As reported by BBC News in 2013, Congress accused the company of setting up multiple offshore subsidiaries which generate billions of dollars in profit but which pay no (or very little) tax.

However, Cook maintains Apple is doing nothing wrong. When 60 Minutes host Charlie Rose asked Cook how he feels about being labelled a tax avoider by Congress, the boss of Apple replied, “What I told them and — what I’ll tell you and — and the folks watching tonight is we pay more taxes in this country than anyone.”

Rose then pushed Cook on the money being stored overseas, which was dismissed with an acknowledgement that “two-thirds of our business is over there.” Rose then raised the notion of bringing that money home to the U.S., to which Cook replied:

“It would cost me 40 percent to bring it home. And I don’t think that’s a reasonable thing to do. This is a tax code, Charlie, that was made for the industrial age, not the digital age. It’s backwards. It’s awful for America. It should have been fixed many years ago. It’s past time to get it done.”

Finally, Rose confronted Cook with what Congress had concluded, which is that “Apple is engaged in a sophisticated scheme to pay little or no corporate taxes on $74 billion in revenues held overseas.” However, according to Cook, “That is total political crap. There is no truth behind it. Apple pays every tax dollar we owe.”

We’ll let you make your own mind up on this one. Because, well, Apple can be rather litigious.

Clinton Doesn’t Understand Back Doors

It turns out that Donald Trump Clicking Consequences: Why Donald Trump Is Your Fault Every time you click an article about Donald Trump, the media thinks that is what you want to read, and so it spends more time talking about Trump. Stop clicking! Read More isn’t the only American politician who doesn’t understand technology. Hillary Clinton is also rather confused about how stuff works, particularly in relation to encryption and backdoors designed to circumvent encrypted communications.

While Trump wants to close parts of the Internet What Google Searches For You, Avoid Star Wars Spoilers... [Tech News Digest] Take a look back over 2015, avoid The Force Awakens spoilers, bid farewell to Rdio, laugh at Donald Trump's ignorance, and survive winter by staring at a fiery Darth Vader for five hours. Read More to stop terrorism, Clinton insists that something must be done about encryption. After referring to encryption as a “terrorist tool used in the Paris attacks,” Clinton said:

“Maybe the back door isn’t the right door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. I just think there’s got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out.”

“It doesn’t do anybody any good if terrorists can move toward encrypted communication that no law enforcement agency can break into before or after. There must be some way. I don’t know enough about the technology to be able to say what it is, but I have a lot of confidence in our tech experts.”

The problem is, of course, that you cannot build a backdoor into the hardware and platforms only being used by terrorists. A backdoor is a backdoor, and will affect everyone FBI Backdoors Won't Help Anybody - Not Even the FBI The FBI wants to force technology companies to enable security services to snoop on instant messaging. But such security backdoors don't actually exist, and if they did, would you trust your government with them? Read More , both in terms of covert surveillance and criminal hacking. But it’s OK, as the boffins can figure it all out.

Watch Making a Murderer on YouTube

Netflix has uploaded the first episode of its new show to YouTube, allowing anyone to watch it for free, even without a Netflix subscription Is Netflix Worth The Money? There are more people who don't subscribe to Netflix as those who do, and that swathe of the population wants to know if they're missing out on anything. Is Netflix worth the money? Read More . The show in question, Making a Murderer, is the TV equivalent of Serial, the popular podcast which recently returned for a second series You Can Now Buy Troll Insurance, YouTube Promotes Viral Videos... [Tech News Digest] Insure yourself against online trolls, watch viral videos before they go viral, play online without PlayStation Plus, listen to the second season of Serial, and watch Star Wars Battlefront in 4K. Read More .

The first season of Making a Murderer tells the story of Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for rape before being released based on DNA evidence. Two years later, he was arrested on suspicion of murder.

By making the first episode available for free on YouTube, Netflix clearly hopes to get people hooked enough that they’ll then purchase a monthly Netflix subscription. Which is a crafty marketing move when Netflix needs to keep adding users in order to fund original programming Calm Down, Cord Cutters: Those Ads on Netflix Are Just Trailers Is Netflix going to become just like any other TV network, where you have to sit through commercials while watching a television show or movie? Let's sort the fact from fiction. Read More .

Homer Advertises YouTube Advertising

And finally, The Simpsons meets Inception, with YouTube employing the cartoon family to advertise YouTube advertising Hack YouTube: Kill the Annoyances, Improve Your Viewing YouTube is a revolutionary service, but that doesn't mean that it’s without its flaws. There are many features on the site that are designed for convenience, other features that are meant to satiate legal requirements,... Read More on YouTube. Homer sets up a snow plow business called Mr. Plow, which fails miserably until Lisa creates a viral video advertising campaign.

The popularity of The Simpsons has waned in recent years, but Homer and co. remain characters that most people will instantly recognize. Which makes them perfect for a viral video ad campaign 10 Of The Best Viral Video Ad Campaigns Read More which requires people to actively choose to carry on watching past five seconds.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

When will Flash finally die? Should Apple be forced to pay more tax? Do any politicians actually understand technology? What is your favorite TV show on Netflix right now? What is the worst advert you have ever seen on YouTube?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Denis Dervisevic via Flickr

Related topics: Adobe Flash, Encryption, Facebook, HTML5, Netflix, Star Wars, YouTube.

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  1. Art
    December 22, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    Colin said: "“Should Apple be forced to pay more tax?” Yes."
    Like the guy said when he was describing a kitchen, "That's a crock!" Based on your comment, you probably think that it is more patriotic to drive 55 on the interstate when the speed limit is 70. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is a fundamental right to arrange your affairs, within the law, to pay the minimum taxes possible. If Apple is breaking some law, then spell it out, and let's go get them! If not, then allow them to exercise their rights. Do you pay extra taxes or forego tax exemptions so that you will pay more? I didn't think so.
    If the law is bad, change it. But until Congress does, don't hound people for legally using it to their advantage.

  2. Anonymous
    December 22, 2015 at 3:14 am

    Our ATO has just announced how much the big companies paid in tax in the financial year 2013-14. Apple's income in Australia was just over SIX BILLION AU, but somehow they managed to get so many tax deducations that their taxable income was reduced to just over AU $ 247 MILLION. So they supposedly were so bad at running the business that they had AU$ 5753 MILLION in tax deductions- yes that is correct, 5753 MILLIONS. Needless to say they ended up paying a paltry AU$ 74 million in tax, which amounts to just over 1% before tax deductions. The average PAYG (Pay as you go) income earner is lucky if they get 1% back as a tax refund at the end of the financial year. THEY are paying a whopping 30% up front, every fortnight or month, and then have to fight to get a crumb back. The obscenity of it all is beyond words.

  3. Anonymous
    December 21, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Apple may pay fully what they are legally allowed to get away with, but that is not the same things as what is right/just given how the tax code was compromised to allow this 'evasion' to be common place.

    The lack of re-investment in home/host country is bad ethics, arrogance. Google, Facebook, et al present the same dilemma.

    The "not enough skilled workers" BS really ticks me off. The answer would be to re-invest in training, education, facilities in the U.S. so we don't completely lose our ability to make anything. But that would cost money, would affect profits, bonuses, Tesla sales...

    We are at a point, as with the "sustaining civilization birthrate" that we have been losing capabilities in all disciplines at an alarming rate for over a decade, such that we can never hope to restore equity or growth in true skills and capabilities.

    The college systems are becoming a farce - more social thinking and advocacy than sciences that will actually create and produce. We have the same problem in basic infrastructure skills - such as what MikeRoweWorks is trying to address. In technology we just throw away an old or cracked i-thing and get a new one... (from China) - it is not possible to merely throw away a highway, a bridge, a building or infrastructure and order a new one on Amazon.

    Effectively Apple, a tangible goods producer, is undermining its home/host country to an extent that it probably won't survive here very long either.

    Love the arrogance Tim... NOT!

    • Anonymous
      December 22, 2015 at 1:29 am

      "Lack of skilled workers" in corporate speak means that they cannot find skilled individuals in the US that are willing to work for coolie wages.

      Couple of years ago 60 Minutes had a report on the income corporate America has stashed off-shore. At the time, the figure was around $2 Trillion.

  4. Tim
    December 21, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Uninstall Flash now!? I tried that, and could no longer get half the pages I need and visit to function. Until they switch, I can't.

  5. Anonymous
    December 21, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Apple doesn't pay tax in America, but they don't pay much tax overseas either.

    It was recently estimated that Apple pays about 1.33% tax on their revenues in Australia. Assuming a 40% profit margin, which is not unrealistic considering Apple's markups, that amounts to about a 4% tax rate.

  6. Anonymous
    December 21, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    "Apple pays every tax dollar we owe"
    HORSE MUFFINS!!! If ANY corporation/company in the US is paying "every tax dollar that it owes" then its tax lawyers and accountants are not doing their job and should be fired immediately, if not sooner. According to IRS records most corporations/companies pay 10%-15% taxes. Others pay taxes in the single digits. The statutory corporate tax rate is 35%.

    Tim Cook also slammed the American workers. When asked by Charlie Rose "why not bring the manufacturing jobs home?" Cook replied "because American workers do not have the skills". He further said "If you collected all the tool and die makers in the US, they would fit inside a large conference room. You would need several stadiums for all the tool and die makers in China."

    • Peter Dunkelberger
      December 22, 2015 at 12:38 am

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. Apple does pay every tax dollar they owe, and their accountants and lawyers make sure of that. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal, tax evasion is not. Apple is not about to be caught evading taxes.

      My question would be why does Apple need tool and die makers? Further, assuming we don't have tool and die makers, the US certainly has people who can use tools and dies to make whatever the tools and dies are supposed to make. The real problem is salaries, and higher salaries eat into profits. And companies have become so profit hungry that they will pay anything to elect congress people who will not establish tariffs.

      I am disappointed with Cook's responses, first of all because he did not handle the tax thing well, and second, if you pay enough, tool and die makers will come out of the woodwork.

      • Anonymous
        December 22, 2015 at 1:19 am

        Not "wrong." I said nothing about "tax evasion."

        There are legal ways of manipulating annual reports to reduce taxable income. Any half-way competent CPA or tax lawyer can do it and I'm sure that Apple hires more-than-competent professionals. Steve Jobs always insisted on only the highest quality work. But I was talking about corporate America, not just Apple.

        I got the impression that Cook was trying to snow Charlie Rose and the 60 Minutes audience.

        • Peter Dunkelberger
          December 22, 2015 at 2:01 am

          You implied tax evasion. You said they were not paying every tax dollar they owe, and I would bet that they are paying pretty close to what they owe. Your (and my) Congress person has written the laws so that Apple can do what it is doing. Change the law and Apple will comply.

  7. Cat
    December 21, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I don't know much about the American tax system but I am on the receiving end of global pricing for digital products and unable to take advantage of US prices because I'm European registered etc - I pay the same in GBP (Great British Pounds / £) as USA!

    eg. $99 USA? Well, it's a download, here pay £99 GBP which is currently equal to about $150USD...
    I reiterate - it's a download!

    That s a massive gripe but perhaps worthy of another conversation.

    This I will offer however, that I hope is relevant to the topic. I think Mr Cook is spot on with taxes needing to be adjusted for the Information Age, rather than stuck in the Industrial Age.

    'Cutting off nose to spite face' - potentially an Industrial Age saying - springs to mind...

  8. Colin
    December 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    "Should Apple be forced to pay more tax?" Yes.

    If they charge consumers premium prices in the Digital Age, then they should pay the appropriate amount of tax - not just what Apple feels is okay. There are people who are happy to pay hundreds for an IPhone - that's fine, that's their choice - but had they spent those *same* hundreds of dollars buying a new carpet, then the tax paid would have benefited the nation. Just because Apple can afford to pay clever lawyers, shouldn't disadvantage small retailers.

    What is happening is we are effectively paying tax-money to Apple, without any of the societal benefits of government-instigated taxes. In other words, Apple won't promise to buy any hospitals, a fire department, no school equipment, no libraries... but Apple bosses and shareholders will ignore that, until they are forced to pay a fair rate of tax. 40% tax stills leave 60% of $18bn profit and remember that's only a single year's profit.