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

Ineos in a state

Fracking is controversial and widely rejected by the communities where it could take place. But the oil company Ineos is pushing forward with its fracking plans in the UK. It seems content to do this at almost any cost to community good will, pursuing legal injunctions making any practical protest illegal.

The damage this is . . . → Read More: Ineos in a state

Accountability for Syria

Obama should just give up and admit he got it wrong. A little bit of humility is worth it to avoid a catastrophe in Syria.

It is unclear whether Obama will even ask for Congressional approval. By law he does not have to, despite many requests to do so. But international law does require UN . . . → Read More: Accountability for Syria

Companies as if they mattered

The police are investigating possible crimes at News International committed by the company, not just by a bunch of individuals. It is sometimes claimed that the most effective deterrent to crimes committed while operating a company is the individual prosecution of senior management figures. And of course this is a real deterrent. But the question . . . → Read More: Companies as if they mattered

Maybe companies are not people after all!

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that companies, while they may be legal persons, should not enjoy all the rights that human persons have.

It was in the context of questioning the right to privacy of a fracking company, which had argued that a compensation agreement it had made was a private matter and so need . . . → Read More: Maybe companies are not people after all!

Where does innovation come from?

Drug manufacturers think it comes from protecting profits. No doubt this leads to the development of drugs that can be patented – tweaking an existing drug usually does the trick with minimal effort. But the Indian courts have ruled that tweaking an existing drug does not create a new drug that merits a patent. And . . . → Read More: Where does innovation come from?

Royal Charters: the way forward for voluntary self-regulation?

It looks like the new UK press regulation regime will both be voluntary and have teeth. It will have the power to impose significant sanctions on those who break their own rules.

So why can’t other industry sectors adopt this approach – alcohol production, gambling and retailing perhaps? At the moment, where self-regulation exists at . . . → Read More: Royal Charters: the way forward for voluntary self-regulation?

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

Taxing codes

The Code of Practice that banks have signed up to – which is meant to stop tax avoidance – has a glaring loophole. The main provision says that banks “should not engage in tax planning other than that which supports genuine commercial activity”. But financial engineering (including tax planning) is a commercial activity. So there . . . → Read More: Taxing codes

Shredding Reputations

How should the media be regulated?

The painful accounts of intrusion into private lives by the newspapers that the Leveson Inquiry has revealed should provoke some government reaction. Is there a danger that ‘good’ journalism will be regulated away in some fashion in the name of protecting privacy? Will some instances of bad behaviour by . . . → Read More: Shredding Reputations