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Have you tried turning it off and on again? Russia Plans to Turn off the Internet

Russia plans to completely disconnect from the global internet sometime before April as part of an operation meant to test the nation’s cyberdefenses. The plan is part of a larger “sovereign internet” bill which calls for the establishment of Russia’s own Domain Name System and which reroutes all domestic internet traffic through state-controlled servers. The plan was announced in response to the release of the 2018 US National Security Strategy, which attributes some cyber attacks against the US to Russia. Just two weeks ago, special counsel Robert Mueller accused Russia’s Internet Research Agency troll farm of dezinformatsiya by leaking spurious documents to discredit the investigation. Researchers believe that the operation is being used to facilitate censorship and to prevent foreign interception of Russian internet traffic. Opposition lawmakers have echoed such criticism but have also called into question the Kremlin’s ability to carry out the operation since it calls for equipment that the state can neither manufacture nor afford to purchase.

The Tech Industry Is Literally Begging for Help

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey is the latest tech official to publicly come out against his own company for failing to combat abuse of the platform. Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on the FTC to allow individuals to track and delete their data. But, it’s not just executive leadership that have publicly called on tech companies and the tech industry at large to do more to combat growing problems of hate speech, unregulated AI, and biased facial recognition. Employees at Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have all pressured their employers to drop controversial government contracts. Outside Silicon Valley, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office has ordered Facebook to change the way it gathers data. In the US, lawmakers have demanded information from Amazon about its controversial Rekognition face recognition software citing research by civil rights activists which highlights inherent racial biases. From university researchers to lawmakers to CEO’s, it seems that the only parties not totally outraged are consumers. Big Tech is screaming for help; maybe we should listen.

Corporate Tax Breaks & Big Tech

Yesterday, Amazon announced plans to cancel its Queens headquarters in Long Island City, citing strong local opposition. Local activists were outraged, in part, by the nearly $3bn in government incentives. Despite the New York setback, Amazon will still get $570m for its Virginia headquarters and $100m for its Nashville offices. And, for the second year in a row, Amazon will pay $0 in federal taxes.  New York’s move underscores the increasing opposition to big tech tax breaks. Last year, activists were outraged when Amazon successfully avoided a $50m business tax in Seattle that would have gone to affordable housing and other programs. But, analysts say the most egregious violations have come from Apple. Apple Operations International, the main holding company for Apple’s offshore corporate structure, once allowed the world’s most valuable company to simply avoid declaring a tax residency and also avoid paying corporate income tax. But it might all be changing; at least in Europe. Last year, Apple finally agreed to start paying $15bn in back-taxes to the Irish government. Earlier this week, European courts ordered Apple to pay over $570m in back-taxes to French authorities.

Mobile Phone Security FAQs

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