Behind the veil – companies vs the State

Microsoft has been battling the USA over access to data for some time now. And the other big internet companies are backing it too. The USA wants to be able to access data held by Microsoft overseas. Microsoft claims that it does not have to hand it over on request – and that consumer and . . . → Read More: Behind the veil – companies vs the State

How well do you know your government?

The role of the public sector is changing. Activities that were once deemed to be a natural part of the function of the state, are now being carried out by the private sector. Whether in health, education, transport or security, large parts of the job of the delivery of services paid for by the state . . . → Read More: How well do you know your government?

Moralising at companies: what's the point?

The government and politicians have been lecturing companies on how to behave a lot recently – there’s tax, training and ISPs for a start. But does it work?

The issue of taxes not being paid has received the most attention. That led to Starbucks volunteering an extra £20m over two years. But that may be . . . → Read More: Moralising at companies: what's the point?

It's not a very taxing world

Cameron’s initiative to open up tax havens is a good start – despite the fact that the recent agreement is only one for the UK dependencies to develop an action plan to look at transparency, rather than actually to take any action. But there will still be a long way to go after the UK . . . → Read More: It's not a very taxing world

Just you, me and the NSA

Privacy is so last millenium. Security is the thing. We have bought our security with our privacy. The trouble is that we don’t know quite what we’ve done, since the providers of security now have the privacy, while we don’t. Oops.

So we are completely in the dark in the matter of what the NSA . . . → Read More: Just you, me and the NSA

Enclosing the sea

Large fishing companies are trying to privatise one of the few remaining wildernesses: the contents of the sea. The UK Association of Fish Producers (UKAFPO) is a secretive organisation with no discernible website. It is likely its ultimate sponsors are large, wealthy companies that already monopolise the majority of the British catch.

UKAFPO is suing . . . → Read More: Enclosing the sea

The UK is not on the Pacific rim – but it could soon be…

The USA and countries on the Pacific rim are negotiating a new trade agreement under conditions of great secrecy. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seems to favour trade interests above those of national governments. There are numerous problems with the intent of the TPP from giving up democratic rights to a non-democratic body to lowering sustainability . . . → Read More: The UK is not on the Pacific rim – but it could soon be…

When win-win turns into win-lose

Bilateral Investment Treaties are complex, technical, boring – and dangerous. They turn the win-win of CSR into ‘heads I win, tails you lose’.

These treaties specify the conditions under which a company will invest in a country. They’re typically used by large companies making major infrastructural investments in relatively unstable countries. From the companies’ point . . . → Read More: When win-win turns into win-lose

Should Rio+20 focus on accountability?

The Stakeholder Forum has called for accountability to be central to Rio+20. We definitely need a Framework Convention on Accountability. That’s the easy part.

And I think it could draw from the consensus, established by ISO 26000, on the crucial issues that any responsible organisation should face – the core subjects and the underlying issues.

. . . → Read More: Should Rio+20 focus on accountability?

Carry On Guzzling

The Lancet, the academic community, the government and the World Health Organisation all agree that obesity is a serious threat. Interestingly, so does the food industry.

So, as a nation, should we:

a) just take individual responsibility and eat less? (Requires a strong and persistent public education campaign. People may also need a little help . . . → Read More: Carry On Guzzling