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Big Revolution - Trump's trade war tackles the French tech tax

Welcome to Thursday's newsletter. — Martin from Big Revolution
July 11 · Issue #468 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s newsletter.
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Nintendo has announced the Switch Lite, a cheaper version of the Switch that doesn’t actually ‘switch’ into different form factors and won’t connect to your TV. It’s out in September, with a limited edition Pokémon version following in November.
  • Apple has issued a ‘silent update’ to MacOS to make the Zoom app safe for Mac users. The technique is generally reserved for malware, not widely-used commercial software from publicly-listed companies.
  • Your Apple Watch’s Walkie-Talkie feature won’t work for the time being. Apple has disabled it after it discovered a vulnerability that could allow someone to listen to your iPhone’s microphone without your knowledge.
  • Catching up: I forgot to mention this in yesterday’s newsletter, but Apple released tweaked MacBook Air and MacBook Pro hardware earlier this week, and killed the cute little 12-inch MacBook.
The big thought
Credit: Florian Wehde on Unsplash
Credit: Florian Wehde on Unsplash
Trump’s trade war tackles the French tech tax
France wants tech and digital companies to pay their fair share of tax. So politicians there look set to introduce a 3% tax on the revenues of digital companies that are able to use international corporate structures and subsidiaries to pay the least tax possible globally, leaving individual countries out of pocket.
The tech companies will have seen this coming. The low tax yield from successful global tech firms is one of the common reasons given for greater regulation of the tech sector. France is just the first country to institute a solution.
Fair enough. But what should really be little more than a domestic tax issue in France and a bit more work for tech company accountants is now set to become another front in Trump’s trade war.
The Trump administration says it is investigating whether the tax constitutes unfair discrimination against American companies. This could even result in “retaliatory tariffs” against France, the New York Times reports.
This is crazy. There are good reasons you could criticise this tax — it taxes revenue rather than profit, and there’s an argument that globalised corporate tax avoidance is better dealt with on an international treaty level rather than on a country-by-country basis. But it’s a stretch to say that it intentionally penalises American companies.
American companies happen to be the most likely to lose out here, but it’s not an anti-American tax. I can’t help but wonder whose Washington DC lobbying dollars are behind this particular move 🤔 Whoever it is played a blinder in conflating an overdue tax adjustment with a trade war.
One big read
Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the Internet Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the Internet
An interesting analysis of how Google’s privacy policy has evolved since the ‘90s, and what that says about the tech industry.
One big tweet
Click the tweet below for a thread featuring a lost AirPod, some DIY, and a happy ending.
Ashley Mayer
The AirPod fell out of my ear several feet away from the edge of the subway platform, but I’ve never seen anything more inevitable. RIP little buddy. Thanks for all the podcasts.
12:33 AM - 10 Jul 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow. See you in your inbox then.
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