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Privacy Shield, Apple hack and the Panama Papers

Legal news articles that caught our attention

Privacy Shield: how to comply when data regulations go off-road 

The end of Safe Harbour has created an era of uncertainty when it comes to data regulations.

A new data transfer agreement was announced on 2 February by EU and US officials, but with the terms of Privacy Shield yet to be approved by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the data protection authorities (DPAs) of each of the 28 EU member states, the current regulatory landscape is fraught with uncertainty.

The well-intentioned effort to bridge the gap between two very different data privacy playing fields made positive steps to bring additional protection to EU citizens’ data. Yet the agreement, unpopular with many members of the European Parliament (MEP), still faces several hurdles.

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A closer look at the Apple hack debate

Some familiar voices took the side of Apple last month in its fight against the FBI-prompted court order demanding it hack into the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernadino, California attacks.

Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Box, Dropbox and others submitted briefs last week to the Federal District Court for the District of Central California, challenging several legal facets of the government’s case.

On one hand, this is a surprise, because these technology giants usually go their own way, steering clear of acknowledging – never mind supporting – each other. On the other hand, the actions taken by these companies is a clear indication that every single one of them finds common ground around the issue of security.

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Morality, Hypocrisy or Just Envy? The Panama Papers

Let's conduct a thought experiment. Imagine the government (of whichever country) introduced a tax break, or a tax loophole if you like, that if used, could benefit everyone irrespective of level or type of earnings. How many of us would refuse to use such a tax break because we felt that it was morally wrong to pay less tax when we could pay more? I may be totally wrong but I'm not imagining a long queue of people lining up to pay more tax.

The Panama Papers seem impossible to get off the front pages. They have launched a torrent of moralizing from all and sundry, not least opposition politicians - opportunists who see a chance to damage the Prime Minister - something he has proven perfectly capable of doing for himself without any help and assistance. But have the Panama Papers told us anything we did not already know? Individuals, families, corporations and financial institutions all try to minimize the tax that is paid. When appropriate they use offshore structures to do so. In the vast majority of cases they are doing so perfectly legally. In jurisdictions with sloppy standards and low transparency, structures can be used for illegal activity such as money laundering. How much of this did we not already know two weeks ago before the Panama papers were leaked?

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