California governor signs bill requiring all smartphones to have remote killswitches by July 2015

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As we’ve previously covered, the state of California has been in the process of passing a bill that would require all smartphones sold within the state to come with a remote killswitch option to deter thieves. The bill was passed by the state legislature earlier this year, and today it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, as noted by CNET.

The law goes into effect in July 2015, and will require all smartphones sold within the state to include an option for remotely disabling a stolen device. Apple has already met the requirements of this law with its Activation Lock and Find My iPhone services, but now such features will be required by law on Android, Windows Phone, and other handsets.

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Following White House statement, lawmakers plan to introduce legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking

Following a statement from the White House on Monday confirming it would support “narrow legislative fixes” to make unlocking cellphones legal again, several lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation. According to a report from The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Senator Amy Klobuchar have confirmed they will introduce bills in support of the legalization of cellphone unlocking:

“I intend to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to restore users’ ability to unlock their phones and provide them with the choice and freedom that we have all come to expect in the digital era,” Leahy said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee, which handles copyright issues, would likely have jurisdiction over any bill to legalize cellphone unlocking.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said she plans to introduce her own bill this week.

During a recent panel discussion on Capitol Hill, other lawmakers voiced their support for the legislation, including Representatives Darrell Issa and Jared Polis, while The Hill reported the Federal Communication Commissions’Jessica Rosenworcel “encouraged Congress to re-examine the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

The decision was made by the Library of Congress in October to make unlocking cellphones illegal, and that policy officially took effect in January. Following the White House’s statement in response to a petition with over 110,000 signatures, the Library of Congress issued a statement and agreed that “the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context.” Read more

Apple Australia hit with $28.5M in back taxes after questionable use of tax havens

Days after executives from Google, Amazon, and others were grilled by regulators in the United Kingdom over the issue of tax avoidance in Europe, The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Apple’s Australian arm has been hit with a $28.5 million bill for back taxes in the country:

APPLE AUSTRALIA has been hit with a $28.5 million bill for back taxes, statements lodged with the corporate regulator in April show… News of the Tax Office bill comes as European governments put global technology companies under intense pressure over their complex ownership structures that rely heavily on a network of tax havens… Apple’s Australian arm reaped $4.9 billion in revenue last year through the sale of its computers, iPads and iPhones. The bill takes its total tax tab for the year ending September 24, 2011, to $94.7 million.

Earlier this year, The New York Times profiled how Apple uses tax havens, such as Nevada, Ireland, and Luxembourg, to sidestep taxes in both the United States and Europe. The U.K. isn’t the only country putting pressure on technology multinationals over tax avoidance schemes, SMH also noted the French government requested $252 million USD in back taxes from Amazon, a company that also uses Luxembourg as a tax haven for its Europe operations, earlier this week. Read more