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SEC ends review of Apple taxes, overseas cash

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Four months after raising questions about Apple's foreign earnings and taxes, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ended its investigation without plans to take any further action.

Just the fax


In June, the SEC initiated its examination of Apple's Form 10-K filing from September 2012 just shortly after the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations had called the company's chief executive Tim Cook to testify about Apple's payment of taxes.

America's intense government scrutiny of one of its most successful companies relates to the fact that Apple maintains vast overseas holdings that it will not repatriate into the U.S. because American tax laws would claim over a third of it.

According to the LA Times, Congress drafted a report claiming that Apple was believed to have set up "a sophisticated series of international subsidiaries and tax strategies to cut its U.S. federal tax bill by $74 billion between 2009 and 2012."

However, Apple's earnings have increasingly shifted from the U.S. to international markets, where its business is conducted from countries that have lower tax rates. The company's international operations accounted for 61 percent of its revenue last year, and increased to two-thirds of its revenue in the first calendar quarter of 2013.

Apple's cash is in Ireland, not the Cayman Islands



The SEC initially asked for more information about Apple's holdings on June 13. Apple responded, stating that "substantially all of the Company?s $40.4 billion in undistributed international earnings intended to be indefinitely reinvested in operations outside the U.S. (as of September 29, 2012) was generated by subsidiaries organized in Ireland, which has a statutory tax rate of 12.5%."

In other words, Apple's international earnings are held and taxed in Ireland, and the company plans to sit on them until they can be reinvested into its international operations.

Cook had earlier told the U.S. Congress, "We pay all the taxes we owe." The company estimates that it will pay $7 billion in federal U.S. taxes this year.

Cook's testimony also outlined that Apple does not use "tax gimmicks," specifically noting that it does not:
  • Move its intellectual property into offshore tax havens and use it to sell products back into the U.S. in order to avoid U.S. tax.
  • Use revolving loans from foreign subsidiaries to fund its domestic operations.
  • Hold money on a Caribbean island
  • Have a bank account in the Cayman Islands.


May 3, 2013


Investors blindly jonesing for a hit



A variety of shareholders have been intently interested in collecting a cut of Apple's cash earnings, with many complaining that the company's cash is currently earning only very conservative returns. However, were Apple to simply distribute its cash holdings to shareholders, over a third would vanish during repatriation from U.S. taxation.

Recipients would also be taxed on those dividends as investment income, resulting in an even greater net loss of value in the form of taxation. There would also be nothing left to hold up Apple's stock price, which the market has valued at very close to nothing above its actual cash pile.

Wall Street remains baffled by Apple's business model of making products people want, rather than following Samsung or Amazon in selling large volumes at much lower (or zero) profits, a game plan many investors seem to consider more sustainable over the long term.

SEC: tell investors of Irish tax risks



In July, the SEC's primary response to Apple was that it should clarify that its "foreign" holdings were specifically Irish holdings.

"Your responses state that your Irish subsidiaries generated substantially all of your $40.4 billion in undistributed international earnings, creating a tax benefit of approximately $5.9 billion in 2012," the SEC wrote. "Thus, it appears that you should specifically reference the potential risks associated with any changes in Irish tax laws."

Apple responded, saying it would add references to Ireland and the potential for tax law changes in that country to have an impact on its operations. The company also clarified that its U.S. earnings were enough to fund its planned expenses, which would include capital investments in its Apple Campus 2 project, various U.S. Data Centers now under construction and retail expansions.

The company is also funding massive stock buybacks and large dividend payments to shareholders using debt, essentially borrowing against the value of its cash to benefit shareholders without squandering its resources on voluntary tax payments it does not have a legal obligation to pay.

The majority of Apple's domestic sales generate state sales taxes, are handled by retail employees who generate income and other payroll taxes, and have created one of America's healthiest and most prosperous new industries: mobile app development. App Store revenue is taxed domestically, both in end user sales and in the billions in income Apple pays out to its Mac and iOS developers.

At the beginning of September, the SEC noted that it had completed its review and had no plans to take further action related to Apple's income and tax matters.
post #2 of 43

What an excellent waste of tax dollars THAT was.

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post #3 of 43
And this will get somewhere between 1/10 and 1/20 as much coverage in the media as all the earlier reports that Apple was being investigated for for tax evasion.
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post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post
 

What an excellent waste of tax dollars THAT was.

 

If the report shows Apple is not illegally or immorally avoiding paying US taxes (say different from Mitt Romney), then this is important information. Apple is not a tax dodger. 

post #5 of 43
There's money wasted. Thanks, government.
post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post
 

 

If the report shows Apple is not illegally or immorally avoiding paying US taxes (say different from Mitt Romney), then this is important information. Apple is not a tax dodger.

 

 

Apple was never under investigation for tax evasion, nor were the other major corporations that were part of the investigation.  This site rarely points it out since it prefers Apple fans feel like Apple is being attacked so they'll get emotional about it.    Other corporations included as part of this same investigation?  Yep.  Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard all testified and received quite a bit of press coverage as well.  If all you read is this site, then you'd probably have the impression it was all about Apple.

 

All were found to be doing more or less the same thing to various degrees- but you bundled two words together that are very distinctly separate...

 

"Apple is not illegally or immorally avoiding paying US taxes..."

 

None of the companies were threatened with what they were doing as being illegal.  Congress sure put on a show of trying to make them feel like they were dirty and immoral.  Microsoft's 'MIR' (Microsoft Ireland Research) subsidiary was found to reduce their US taxes by about 40%.  Morals schmorals.  It is a corporation's duty to generate as much value for shareholders as they *legally* can- and offshoring is currently perfectly legal.  If Apple and Google and Microsoft execs weren't offshoring they could face legal action from their activist investors (well, technically Google is immune from investors, since only Larry, Sergey, and Eric have 'super-voting' shares).

 

The real goal of the hearings was to figure out the nuances of how they were doing it legally so congress can try to close the loopholes.  While Apples 150 bil is the biggest single lump of dough (and therefore draws the most attention) the total assets held offshore by all US corporations is estimated around 1.6 trillion.... so its a problem worth congress spending a few dollars to try and fix at least some of it.

post #7 of 43
Congress already knows the fix but it is contrary to present political leanings. That is to reduce corporate income taxes bringing them in line with competitor nations.

If this were done, then the government would actually increase it's tax base by encouraging companies to keep their primary assets in the US.
post #8 of 43
WTF is the SEC doing with tax-related issues!? Isn't it for the IRS to worry about, even assuming it mattered in the first place?
post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

 Other corporations included as part of this same investigation?  Yep.  Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard all testified and received quite a bit of press coverage as well.

Really? Schmidt was asked to testify? Ballmer was? Whitman was?

Care to provide a cite? I'll wait.
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

WTF is the SEC doing with tax-related issues!? Isn't it for the IRS to worry about, even assuming it mattered in the first place?

SEC deals with financial reporting with public companies. If it believes there's a discrepancy, it will investigate.
post #11 of 43
"It is a corporation's duty to generate as much value for shareholders ..."

That is only one of several. And I'm not of the opinion that it necessarily is the most important.
post #12 of 43
Sec should go care about the anal ists always bullshitted to short Apple instead .
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post
 

Apple was never under investigation for tax evasion, nor were the other major corporations that were part of the investigation.  This site rarely points it out since it prefers Apple fans feel like Apple is being attacked so they'll get emotional about it.    Other corporations included as part of this same investigation?  Yep.  Google, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard all testified and received quite a bit of press coverage as well.  If all you read is this site, then you'd probably have the impression it was all about Apple.

 

All were found to be doing more or less the same thing to various degrees- but you bundled two words together that are very distinctly separate.


First off, Frood, this is AppleInsider, not Silicon Valley Insider, so your cynical grousing about the focus on Apple makes you look ridiculous. 

Secondly, Microsoft doesn’t just sell to its overseas customers through a subsidiary in Ireland as Apple does. It funnels its US retail sales (such as when you buy a Windows retail box at Best Buy) through Microsoft Operations Puerto Rico, which is “owned” by a holding company in Bermuda, which is owned by a Microsoft subsidiary operating out of Ireland. 

 

47% of Microsoft’s US retail profits go to Puerto Rico and escape US taxes. This is extremely sketchy, and nothing like Apple.

 

Additionally, Microsoft “licenses” its software developed in the US to its Irish subsidiary for distribution, but never pays any taxes on the value of that software. So it’s earning vast revenues globally on free exports. In 2011, Microsoft paid an effective tax rate of 13.4%, while Apple paid 24%. That’s a pretty big difference, particularly given that Apple’s profit margins are around 35% while Microsoft’s are north of 80%.

 

You know so little about the subject it’s surprising that you felt the need to weigh in on these things. 

post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

And this will get somewhere between 1/10 and 1/20 as much coverage in the media as all the earlier reports that Apple was being investigated for for tax evasion.
Well the media must have done a lousy job reporting Apple's tax evasion investigation in the first place. I never heard about it but glad that at least it's over with now. 1hmm.gif
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post #15 of 43
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Well the media must have done a lousy job reporting Apple's tax evasion investigation in the first place. I never heard about it but glad that at least it's over with now. 1hmm.gif

 

Stop being deliberately stupid.

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post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


Really? Schmidt was asked to testify? Ballmer was? Whitman was?

Care to provide a cite? I'll wait.

 

 

The companies were all requested to testify.  None of the CEO's was required to testify and sent delegates- which is the norm.  Tim Cook *volunteered* to go testify- he was not subpoenaed.  Brilliant move on his part.  He got in some great sound bites and made it appear 'about Apple'

post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Well the media must have done a lousy job reporting Apple's tax evasion investigation in the first place. I never heard about it but glad that at least it's over with now. 1hmm.gif

You're either lying or intentionally blind. That story made headlines on every major news outlet.

Well, I guess it's also possible that you were in a coma for 3 months and someone else was posting to AI using your name. 1smoking.gif
Edited by jragosta - 10/5/13 at 7:58am
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post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post
 


First off, Frood, this is AppleInsider, not Silicon Valley Insider, so your cynical grousing about the focus on Apple makes you look ridiculous. 
 

 

Thank you for agreeing with me.  You are implying that were this Silicon Valley insider it would represent a view more based on reality, but since 'this is AppleInsider' you focus on Apple.  That was exactly my point.  But when people actually believe the impression you paint that its all about congress attacking Apple, I believe they are wrong.  I don't mind looking ridiculous =)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post
 




Secondly, Microsoft doesn’t just sell to its overseas customers through a subsidiary in Ireland as Apple does. It funnels its US retail sales (such as when you buy a Windows retail box at Best Buy) through Microsoft Operations Puerto Rico, which is “owned” by a holding company in Bermuda, which is owned by a Microsoft subsidiary operating out of Ireland.

 

47% of Microsoft’s US retail profits go to Puerto Rico and escape US taxes. This is extremely sketchy, and nothing like Apple.

 

Additionally, Microsoft “licenses” its software developed in the US to its Irish subsidiary for distribution, but never pays any taxes on the value of that software. So it’s earning vast revenues globally on free exports. In 2011, Microsoft paid an effective tax rate of 13.4%, while Apple paid 24%. That’s a pretty big difference, particularly given that Apple’s profit margins are around 35% while Microsoft’s are north of 80%.

 

You know so little about the subject it’s surprising that you felt the need to weigh in on these things.

 

While I don't doubt that you are a corporate tax law expert and highly qualified to 'weigh in' I don't believe anyone on this site who posts on most topics is one.  I do agree with you that Microsoft's tax avoidance strategy is completely sleazy and quite a bit different than Apple's equally sleazy tax avoidance strategies.  I do not fault either company for their practices.

 

If you'd like to read up on how Apples sleaziness is different than Microsofts here are a few links from experts more qualified than I (and possibly even you):

 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/leesheppard/2013/05/28/how-does-apple-avoid-taxes/

http://www.foxbusiness.com/government/2013/05/21/apples-irish-tax-strategy-explained/

post #19 of 43
Nice to see that the thousands of people who claimed Apple is breaking the law are now completely and officially wrong

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post #20 of 43
DED

Please stop using the word "repatriate" to describe the possibility of bringing money Apple earns offshore to the United States. The correct word is "patriate", not "repatriate" because that money was never before in the United States.

Repeated erroneous use of the word "repatriate" likely contributes to a sense of grievance that is in all probability not justified.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

.

If you'd like to read up on how Apples sleaziness is different than Microsofts here are a few links from experts more qualified than I (and possibly even you):

http://www.forbes.com/sites/leesheppard/2013/05/28/how-does-apple-avoid-taxes/
http://www.foxbusiness.com/government/2013/05/21/apples-irish-tax-strategy-explained/

Sorry, I for one am not going to those sleazy "news" sites to read about how "sleazy" Apple is. How about you just go ahead and try to make the case yourself, since you introduced the term?

@Pontavignon, this is a good point. The language carries big assumptions.
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

I don't mind looking ridiculous =)

I do agree with you that Microsoft's tax avoidance strategy is completely sleazy and quite a bit different than Apple's equally sleazy tax avoidance strategies.  I do not fault either company for their practices.

If you'd like to read up on how Apples sleaziness is different than Microsofts here are a few links from experts more qualified than I (and possibly even you)

You asserted that Apple and Microsoft were doing the same things. That's not true.

Since you can google to find headlines that appear to support what you want to believe, try googling for the explanation of the false reports that were made about Apple by some group who didn't understand what was really going on and made false conclusions about the amount of taxes Apple was paying without even consulting Apple's own public SEC filings to get the facts.

Do that and get back to is with your research as an apology for spreading the false report.
post #23 of 43
"Data bites dogma . . ." makes for a funny headline, by the way. I wonder how many get it.
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Well the media must have done a lousy job reporting Apple's tax evasion investigation in the first place. I never heard about it but glad that at least it's over with now. 1hmm.gif

You and that dry sense of humor you rascal. 1biggrin.gif

But seriously, Who on planet earth could have missed the media circus and all the 'gotcha' moments when Apple was berated for being the number one tax dodger in the universe by the Apple hating media and Tim was being grilled by our esteemed politician. Who can forget McCain's closing comment ... 'Why does my iPhone need updating all the time?"

Now I sit back and wait for the headlines everywhere to be all about the witch hunt ending ... 1hmm.gif
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post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

"Data bites dogma . . ." makes for a funny headline, by the way. I wonder how many get it.

It's a bit obvious ma 1biggrin.gif

Seriously, I would think every regular here chuckled.
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post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pontavignon View Post

DED

Please stop using the word "repatriate" to describe the possibility of bringing money Apple earns offshore to the United States. The correct word is "patriate", not "repatriate" because that money was never before in the United States.

Repeated erroneous use of the word "repatriate" likely contributes to a sense of grievance that is in all probability not justified.

The word meaning is slightly different when talking about money or people.

Repatriate - Merriam-Webster Online

www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/repatriate‎

re·pa·tri·ate. transitive verb rē-ˈpā-trē-ˌāt, -ˈpa-\. :

To return (someone) to his or her own country.

Business : to send (money) back to your own country.
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post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post



@Pontavignon, this is a good point. The language carries big assumptions.

The assumption here is assuming he is totally correct. Money is often referred to as being repatriated in this sense, perhaps because it is already Apple's money and 'consolidating' by sending it to the US it would be a better term.
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post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pontavignon View Post

DED

Please stop using the word "repatriate" to describe the possibility of bringing money Apple earns offshore to the United States. The correct word is "patriate", not "repatriate" because that money was never before in the United States.
Absolutely +1. Thank you for making this distinction, Pontavignon! Apple patriating profits into the US (thus paying "heavy" taxes) is a source of many embarrassing and ill informed comments about Apple being a tax avoider. Companies like Apple are under Zero obligation to bring cash earned overseas to the US. Although some Co's don't have ready money for expansion and may do it. Read the Appleinsider stories about the sound logic behind Apple borrowing to do a stock buy back -- saving piles of cash in the spread between borrowing interest and taxes.

I thank the United States Government for finally recognizing this.
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


Well the media must have done a lousy job reporting Apple's tax evasion investigation in the first place. I never heard about it but glad that at least it's over with now. 1hmm.gif

 

Never heard about it and yet you commented on it here:

 

http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/157629/tim-cook-testifies-apple-pays-all-of-the-us-taxes-it-owes

 

 

:no: 

 

Unbelievable .... literally.

post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post


You asserted that Apple and Microsoft were doing the same things. That's not true.

Since you can google to find headlines that appear to support what you want to believe, try googling for the explanation of the false reports that were made about Apple by some group who didn't understand what was really going on and made false conclusions about the amount of taxes Apple was paying without even consulting Apple's own public SEC filings to get the facts.

Do that and get back to is with your research as an apology for spreading the false report.

 

 

And I stand by my assertion...  Both Apple and Microsoft are doing the same thing- legally avoiding taxes to the maximum extent possible.  I have no problem with that.  I never claimed their methods were identical, nor do I believe that now.

 

I didn't cite any unreliable fringe groups who claim Apple committed a crime, so I feel no need to apologize for them.  I did cite Forbes.  Or is it your claim that Forbes is the unreliable fringe source and people should instead come to AppleInsider when they want well researched and credible articles?  What specifically in the Forbes article are they lying about?

 

As long as it is legal I expect  Apple and Microsoft and Google to continue doing it.  I don't like it, but I don't fault them for doing it.  I do hope the governments (Europe is actually worse off than the US) shore up their tax codes and put an end to it.

 

You are right, this is AppleInsider.  If you want to continue to spread the fairy tale that this is about congress singling out and attacking Apple specifically you can continue to do so.  It is a very effective way to rally the troops and get their Apple passion flowing, but it is still not truthful.  The government is looking at *all* the big offshorers to gain an understanding of how they are legally doing it, so that they can come with better laws to make it more difficult to do in the future.  Why is admitting that so difficult for you to do?  Attempting to disparage and discredit me isn't going to change that.

 

If you want to get your readers passion fired up about Apple, why not focus on Apple's products instead?  There's plenty to be passionate about there (hopefully we can at least agree on that).

post #31 of 43

This was political grandstanding as usual. Haul some CEOs before a congressional panel, rake them over the coals by accusing them of following the very rules set up by said congressional panel, make it look like they're the bad guys, get their picture on CNN, and then drop the whole thing.

 

As some politicians and executives ask when cleared of wrongdoing, "Where does Apple go to get their reputation back?"

post #32 of 43
Originally Posted by waldobushman View Post

If the report shows Apple is not illegally or immorally avoiding paying US taxes (say different from Mitt Romney), then this is important information. Apple is not a tax dodger. 

 

See, there you go. You already know it. So why waste money proving it?

 

Originally Posted by Rayz View Post

Unbelievable .... literally.

 

Unless it’s an account being shared.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

The assumption here is assuming he is totally correct. Money is often referred to as being repatriated in this sense, perhaps because it is already Apple's money and 'consolidating' by sending it to the US it would be a better term.

Or "importing" into the US.

Conventional usage is often misleading, and here we see where it fails.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

See, there you go. You already know it. So why waste money proving it?


Unless it’s an account being shared.

With all the trolls we have here why would anyone feel the need to share a troll account?
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayz View Post

Never heard about it and yet you commented on it here:

http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/157629/tim-cook-testifies-apple-pays-all-of-the-us-taxes-it-owes


1oyvey.gif  

Unbelievable .... literally.

That's not an investigation of tax evasion, which is a criminal offense. Perhaps the OP doesn't understand the difference between it and legal tax avoidance. I actually went double-checking for a criminal investigation of Apple when he mentioned it and found nada. Knowing his business background I'll assume his mention of a criminal investigation was for dramatic effect.
Edited by Gatorguy - 10/5/13 at 1:32pm
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post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Unless it’s an account being shared.

That's a new one. What's a shared account? As in "we are legion"? As a former moderator you were privy to all the IP addresses posted from. Did it look "shared " to you?
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post #37 of 43
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post
That's a new one. What's a shared account? As in "we are legion"? As a former moderator you were privy to all the IP addresses posted from. Did it look "shared " to you?

Nixon: Well I would suggest, Mr. Vancouver, that if you knew the President that, that was just a facetious remark.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #38 of 43

All part of the plan to publicly harass and intimidate high-profile American businesses to make points with the Left, while issuing bailouts to financial institutions and doing favors of all sort for close contributors and insiders.

 

Pathetic! Thanks, Obama!

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

That's not an investigation of tax evasion, which is a criminal offense. Perhaps the OP doesn't understand the difference between it and legal tax avoidance. I actually went double-checking for a criminal investigation of Apple when he mentioned it and found nada. Knowing his business background I'll assume his mention of a criminal investigation was for dramatic effect.

You're getting predictable in your old age, Gatorguy.

Saw your deliberate splitting hairs between the term 'tax evasion' and 'tax avoidance' from about six years back.

However, you also know that this was exactly how it was portrayed to the public in the many articles and stories written about it.

One day it would be really interesting for us to sit down and you can tell me the story about how you came to be such a negative proponent of Apple, all the while developing an affinity for one of the worst privacy-respecting companies on the face of the planet.

I can't even imagine what screwed you up that badly.
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post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

What an excellent waste of tax dollars THAT was.

What gets me is how an entity can be investigated without reasonable suspicion of wrong doing. Because the company is targeted by an agenda driven press or political action figure does not feel like good cause.
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