The week in news
Several government websites in Thailand were targeted in a string of DDoS cyber attacks this week, reports the International Business Times. The attacks are thought to be a direct response to new legislation recently approved by the ruling military junta, which could increase censorship capabilities and restrict Internet freedoms in the country. The attack has been attributed to an individual working under the pseudonym ‘blackplans’, operating as part of the Anonymous hacking collective and their campaign waged against the Thai government. The government in turn has condemned the activities, and warns of the threats such cyber attacks pose to national security and infrastructure, including transportation links and the financial services.
Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva faces his fifth corruption trial for charges relating to the ongoing Operation Carwash, which to date has led to charges against more than 200 people and the identification of an estimated 6.4 billion reais in bribes. da Silva’s wife will also stand trial. The newest allegations surround construction firm Odebrecht’s purchase of land and a property for da Silva in return for winning government contracts. Lawyers for the da Silva’s have denied the allegations, though if convicted of all current charges, da Silva could face up to 15 years imprisonment.
The United States’ Trade Representative Office has blacklisted popular Chinese online shopping platform Taobao for a second time. The online marketplace has been criticised for hosting counterfeit and pirated sales products, and for lacking effective controls to protect intellectual property holders. Parent company Alibaba have raised questions whether the decision was politically motivated (in light of the soon-to-be incumbent President’s stance on Chinese business) rather than a facts-based decision, according to statements made to the New York Times. First blacklisted for a period of one year in 2011, the re-listing will incur no financial penalties, but will carry with it significant perceptual and reputational damage for Alibaba’s American presence.
An August ruling presented the Republic of Ireland with a €13 billion receipt to claim in back taxes from Apple. Ireland stands accused of negotiating a favourable tax arrangement with the American technology firm in a ruling by the European Commission. However, since the full ruling was released on Monday, new information suggests that the fine may be split among other European countries, should they argue lost earnings as Apple’s profits were diverted to its Ireland office. A Guardian report also claims the sum may also be reduced if the money is spent on research and development within the company’s American business.
In the weeks that have passed since President Park’s impeachment, South Koreans have been left guessing as to the ramifications the events may have on the anti-corruption law Park was a chief proponent of. The law in question, named after former judge Youngran Kim, entered into force in September of this year, with the aim of further criminalising graft. The first person to be fined in relation to the new law was a Korean citizen in her forties, reports Arirang News; despite gifting rice cakes below the monetary value stated in the law, she was fined for deliberately passing a gift to an on-duty public officer – in other words: graft. This has led to questions on the effectiveness of the policy, and whether it is capable of catching the big fish most in need of frying or small scale instances which are likely to have little systemic impact.