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French Government Laments Washington’s Decision to Open Investigation Into Digital Tax Scheme

France is a sovereign nation

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French, Government, Digital Tax
Bruno Le Maire, France's Economy Minister, defended France's sovereign right to draw up its tax scheme a day after President Donald Trump's Administration ordered a probe into the fiscal policy. Pixabay

The French government on Thursday lamented Washington’s decision to open an investigation into its new tax regime for digital giants like Amazons and Google.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s Economy Minister, defended France’s sovereign right to draw up its tax scheme a day after President Donald Trump’s Administration ordered a probe into the fiscal policy, which could escalate toward sanctions or tariff hikes.

Le Maire said: “I want to highlight that this is the first time in the history of relations between the US and France that the American administration has decided to open a Section 301 procedure. I firmly believe that, between allies, we can and should be able to settle our differences without threats,” reported Efe news.

“France is a sovereign nation. It decides on its fiscal policy in a sovereign manner and it will continue to decide its fiscal policy in a sovereign manner.”

French, Government, Digital Tax
The French government on Thursday lamented Washington’s decision to open an investigation into its new tax regime for digital giants like Amazons and Google. Pixabay

The US Trade Representative can open a Section 301 against a foreign nation if it believes a nation is contravening trade agreements or damaging US commerce.

It is the same mechanism Trump used when he kicked off his trade war with China, which was centered on Washington’s trade deficit with Beijing.

French senators approved the so-called GAFA tax, an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, on Thursday. The policy levies higher taxes on digital giants providing services to French netizens and plug gaps that allow those companies to avoid taxes on huge amounts of profit generated in the country.

But US officials saw the measures is unfair for American firms.

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Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, said: “The US is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate tomorrow unfairly targets American companies.”

Le Maire said the new legislation in France could accelerate discussions on the topic of digital service tax at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development with the aim of drumming a universal policy.

“We will find common solutions, a solution at OCDE level, and we will move onto agreements instead of threats,” he told senators. (IANS)

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Spying Charges On 2 Ex-Twitter Employees for Saudi Arabia

2 former twitter employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia

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Spying for Saudi Arabia
Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government. Pixabay

Raising concerns that American technology firms might be exposed to foreign governments, two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government and the Kingdom’s royal family, according to the US Justice Department.

The two former Twitter staffers, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime, the Justice Department said in a criminal complaint.

The case, unsealed in San Francisco federal court, underscores allegations the Saudi government tries to control anti-regime voices abroad. It also recalls a move reportedly directed by the country’s controversial leader to weaponise online platforms against critics, CNN Business reported on Thursday.

Spying
A US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime. Pixabay

One of the two people is reportedly an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who the CIA has concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement.

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Another man, named Ahmed Almutairi, who is also from Saudi Arabia, allegedly acted as a go-between to the two Twitter staffers and the Saudi government, which according to the complaint rewarded the men with hundreds of thousands of dollars and, for one man, a luxury Hublot watch, the report added. (IANS)