Now It's the EU Harping on Huawei, ZTE
Today in international tech news: The European Union is the latest to voice concern over Huawei and ZTE, but it has nothing to do with security. Also: BlackBerry to launch a cheaper smartphone; Amazon again targeted over UK taxes; and British Lulzsec-linked hackers to be sentenced this week.
What next, Antarctica?
Citing illegal subsidies, the European Commission is considering trade duties against Chinese telecommunications equipment makers Huawei and ZTE.
This is but the latest headache for Huawei and ZTE. Between them,
That said, the threat to levy duties against the companies is just that -- a threat. The EU is likely a ways away from passing any formal legislation.
At a news conference, China's foreign ministry spokesperson, Hong Lei, said that he hopes the EU will "not make promises to undertake protectionist measures."
In June, the EU is expected to impose duties on billions of dollars worth of solar panels from China.
Chinese telecoms do indeed receive export rebates from Beijing, as well as loans from state-run banks for network infrastructure in emerging markets. However, China has said that Huawei and ZTE comply with international trade regulations.
BlackBerry's New, Cheaper Phone
Targeting emerging markets, BlackBerry has will launch a low-cost smartphone.
The Q5 is the company's third device powered by the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Unlike iPhones and most Android devices, the Q5 will have a physical keyboard.
The smartphone was announced at BlackBerry's annual three-day conference in Orlando. There are no plans yet for a North America launch, but the Q5 will be available in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific in July.
[Source: The Associated Press]
Amazon Takes Heat for UK Taxes
Amazon will -- yet again -- face questions from British authorities for its UK tax practices.
Amazon's main UK company paid just US$4.9 million in British corporation tax on some $487 million in sales last year, according to company filings. This is a minute percentage, for one thing, but also doesn't mesh with the fact that Amazon reportedly told investors that it netted nearly $6.4 billion in UK sales in 2012. For tax purposes, Amazon tends to attribute sales to its Luxembourg operation, which, not being incorporated in the UK, is not liable for UK taxes.
At the same time, there is nary a suggestion that Amazon is actually breaking any laws -- just stretching, sometimes to great lengths, tax rules.
Google has also taken a good bit of grief from UK authorities over its tax practices, which don't utilize Luxembourg, but instead follow a circuitous sequence that takes revenue through Ireland and Bermuda.
Google's Eric Schmidt has defended the company's practices, stressing that a) multinational companies do this sort of thing regularly; b) Google employs loads of people in the UK; and c) no laws are being broken.
[Source: The Guardian]
British Lulzsec Hackers to Be Sentenced
A quartet of British hackers associated with the Lulzsec hacking group will be sentenced this week.
Between them, the four have pleaded guilty to stealing data from Sony; redirecting visitors attempting to reach the Sun newspaper to a fake article claiming that News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch had committed suicide; launching cyberattacks against the CIA and others; and hacking into U.S. Air Force computers.
The hackers, who range in age from 18 to 26, reportedly thought of themselves as "modern-day pirates."