China has been having a good go at Apple lately, having slammed the company in March for substandard post-sale service and quickly following that up with charges of copyright infringement.
The latest accusation: tax evasion.
Oh, and pornography.
Apple’s online stores in China are not paying proper import taxes for software sold to Chinese customers, according to a report from the China Association of Consumer Protection Law published in the Legal Daily newspaper.
Also, Apple is liable — criminally so — for peddling pornography in China, a Peking University law scholar, Kang Shuhua, is quoted as saying.
The porn charge echoes an April 17 report from state-run People’s Daily, which named Apple as one of 198 companies under investigation for spreading lewd content.
It’s possible that China is tightening the screws on Apple in part because the U.S. has been calling out Chinese companies — and China in general — so much lately.
Apple issued a formal apology to Chinese customers in early April, vowing to do a better job with its customer relations in the country.
Chinese Microblog Looks to E-Commerce for Funds
Sina Weibo, China’s eminent microblogging platform, is “veering down a path toward e-commerce” as a way to generate revenue.
Last month, Alibaba, which runs China’s top e-commerce outlet, Tmall, bought a stake of Sina Weibo for US$568 million. Thus, it’s not a total stunner that e-commerce is reportedly in the offing.
Alibaba is expected to have an IPO at some point in the not-so-distant future, and integrating the ever-popular Sina Weibo with Alibaba’s other operations could be a way to bolster the company’s profile.
Sina Weibo’s growth has slowed, and it has had trouble monetizing its service. It made just under $50 million in revenue, according to Sina’s last earnings report.
Cyberattacks on US on the Rise
The Department of Homeland Security has said that a new wave of cyberattacks against U.S. corporations is coming from the Middle East.
Energy companies are reportedly the primary targets, with the cyberintrusions focusing on ways to seize control of operating systems.
U.S. officials did not say whether the attacks appear to be state-sponsored or the work of independent hackers.
At least recently, China has been thought of as the U.S.’ primary cyberthreat, which makes the Middle East speculation noteworthy.
That said, there is history with Middle East hacking and energy companies. The world’s top oil producer, Saudi Aramco, was hacked last summer in a large-scale attack that affected 30,000 of the company’s computers. The U.S. later deemed Iran responsible for the attack.
A pair of senior U.S. officials likened the recent intrusions to what happened with Saudi Aramco, when a computer virus wiped data from computers.
Such intrusions might have prompted private warnings in the past. However, authorities decided to go public to bolster the “volume and timeliness” of available information.