For Microsoft, There's Something Costly in Denmark
Today in international tech news: Denmark is seeking US$1 billion in back taxes from Microsoft; Anonymous tries out the role of peacemaker; The Pirate Bay's claim about a new North Korean home raises doubts; and another competitor takes a stab at Skype.
Little Denmark is looking for a big check.
In one of the biggest tax cases in the history of the Scandinavian country with a population of 5.5 million, the Danish tax authority is seeking US$1 billion from Microsoft in back taxes.
The case stems from Microsoft's 2002 purchase of Danish software company Navision, according to Danish Radio DR. Danish authorities are claiming that Microsoft sold rights to Navision's business planning software -- now called Dynamics NAV -- for less than market value to a subsidiary in Ireland.
Hence, a claim for 5.8 billion Danish crowns -- or about $1 billion -- in interest.
Denmark's corporate tax rate is around 25 percent. Ireland, meanwhile, has a corporate tax rate as low as 12.5 percent, which means having profits go through Ireland might save some cash.
While the particulars of this case are unique, European nations are increasingly trying to close tax loopholes used by U.S. tech corporations. The UK, for instance, has time and again grilled the likes of Amazon and Google over their legal, but clever, accounting practices. Australia, too, has joined the fight, decrying Google's "Double-Irish-Dutch Sandwich" accounting practices that funnel money through a few different countries and, as a result, are taxed less.
Anonymous Plays Peacemaker
Anonymous, believe it or not, sounds like the voice of reason in an ongoing duel between hackers in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Hackers on both sides have been defacing the other's websites -- an online version of a real-life conflict. There are reports of many deaths in eastern Malaysia following the landing of Filipino insurgents three weeks ago. The group says it wants land that it claims used to belong to the Philippines.
Anonymous, though, is not taking sides as the hackers have at one another, despite claims from a Filipino group that they are linked to Anonymous. Instead, Anonymous posted a message saying it wants the hostility to end.
[Source: The Register]
Pirate Bay Docks in North Korea?
After being run out of Sweden thanks to legal threats, The Pirate Bay claimed to have set up shop in North Korea. Online tracking searches, however, say the claim is dubious.
The North Korean government invited it to use that country's network to run its file-sharing site, according to a post from the Pirate Bay. To bolster the claim, the site affixed a North Korean flag to the ship image on its homepage.
Tracking searches, including one done by The Next Web, assert that The Pirate Bay is not being hosted in North Korea. The site has indeed set sail for clearer waters; last week, facing legal action in Sweden, the site's operators said they would set up in Spain and Norway.
[Source: The Guardian]
O2 Launches Skype-ish App
Telecommunications company O2 has launched an app called Tu Go which lets users make and receive phone calls and text messages on mobile devices and computers.
In other words, O2 is -- like others before it -- trying to compete with Skype.
Tu Go is available on iOS, Android and Windows 7 computers. It is, however, limited to monthly subscribers. Tu Go docks users' existing minutes allowance, whereas Skype (and other chat apps) require credit.
The cost is the same as if users had made a call with their O2 phone accounts.
Telefonica, which owns O2, launched a voice over Internet protocol app called Tu Me in 2012, but it never caught on.