11 August 2012

"Do no evil"?

There were a couple of bits of news the other day that relate directly and indirectly to Google (which is currently taking a lot of flack for its decision to abandon iGoogle, used by millions of people as their home page). First, there was the announcement:
Google is to pay a record $22.5m (£14.4m) fine to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US after it tracked users of Apple's iPhone, iPad and Mac computers by circumventing privacy protections on the Safari web browser for several months at the end of 2011 and into 2012.
The fine is the largest paid by one company to the FTC, which imposed a 20-year privacy order on Google in March 2010 after concerns about the launch of its ill-fated Buzz social network.
and the other:
A petition demanding that Google pays its “fair share” of tax has attracted nearly 40,000 signatures in just two days as anger over the internet giant’s avoidance of tax in the UK grows.
The petition began as a direct reaction to revelations which emerged this week showing that Google paid the Exchequer £6m on a turnover of £395m last year.
This suggests that Google's aim to "do no evil" is nothing but a marketing slogan and, like most such slogans has no real effect on what is just another big corporation intent on maximising profits at the expense of others. And among those who suffer from the tax avoidance of the bankers and major corporations (Amazon is another that manages to pay less tax in the UK than it ought to, by channelling sales through an offshore company) are children. How about these statistics, Larry (Page) and Jeffrey (Bezos):
The proportion of children living in poverty grew from 1 in 10 in 1979 to 1 in 3 in 1998.
Today, 30 per cent of children in Britain are living in poverty.
The UK has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the industrialised world
This is what your tax avoidance contributes to.

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