By all accounts, Tony Blair is making a pretty penny these days, so we should take all his earnings into the future. Add people like Ed Daveys to the mix as well......
1147 posts • joined 30 May 2007
Re: The one possible benefit for energy companies...
Ah, but you've missed the point. Even with only one car per house, used for commuting (generally at least one is), you simply couldn't charge them all. Now, any 2nd cars would simply be additional load. True, you could possibly charge them during the day to spread the load, but this puts the charging into peak generation times. Part of the supposed reasoning for electric cars is that they charge overnight on essentially (they claim) spare electricity....oversupply. So, start charging during the day and you break the economic model very badly.
Whilst there are undoubtedly some niche cases for electric cars, there simply won't be enough market and trying to charge them in the general community will cause all sorts of structural issues. It simply isn't a starter. We need to accept that cars with batteries (which is different to electric cars) are non-starters and start looking at things like hydrogen cars, which can be refilled quickly.
Re: The one possible benefit for energy companies...
The biggest issue with the electric car (other than the usual range etc.etc.), is that it isn't really a discretionary load, as people need it to get to work etc. Also, imagine your wife is pregnant and waiting to give birth. Do you really want to use the car, reduce its charge and potentially not have it ready at the pertinent point? The whole notion of a car you can't recharge/refill in 5 minutes is a nonsense, unless you go to communal pools, which doesn't see likely.
Also, if you look at the average street and assume everyone has at least one electric car. Plug them all in overnight to charge (most likely pattern) and the local infrastructure will melt. It simply isn't built to carry that much load. What works as a one-off, doesn't always work when scaled to societies needs and that's what matters. Local generation could help, but nothing currently available is either available at the right time (solar doesn't work too well overnight), or generates so little it doesn't really matter.
Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?
And how much cost is saved by heating your tank in this manner and how many times a year does it happen? Then, divide your couple of hundred quid by that and see what the ROI is. It'll be in years and then some. Storing power (effectively what you're doing) in houses is simply not viable at the moment and getting a few free tanks of hot water will takes years (probably decades) to pay back an outlay of several hundred quid.
Re: Cost Benefit Analysis?
You've bought all the hype from the Labour government. In reality, whilst this may be feasible, it isn't going to happen. And heating a few tanks of water in some houses is a really poor way to store energy. Much better to do so on an industrial scale in the grid, such as pumped hydro etc.
In any event, the government has already thought of this eventuality and sorted it out by paying generators to turn off wind turbines when there is an excess.
Re: Ignorance of the issue
I don't think he's saying Greece doesn't have something to do with it. He's simply highlighting what happens when you try and join economies that are vastly different, belonging to cultures that are vastly different with very different outlooks on life.
The Med culture is vastly different to the culture of more northern Europe, something that France suffers from a little as well. The Greeks always thought it was a great idea as it gave them access to almost unlimited loans at very low rates (compared to previous years), which they took up with abandon. Allowed them to keep completely unsustainable practices in place, such as retiring at a stupid age. Britain did this to some extent and that is also coming back to bite us now.
Against the law
Companies and other organisations are legally required to keep everything (correspondence, emails, contracts etc.etc.) for as long as they could be used in a court case. If they fail to provide the information (documents, whatever) on demand, the judge or jury is allowed to take whatever view of their failure they wish to. So, if the judge/jury decides it is deliberate evasion, they are allowed to assume the document would be prejudicial to the failing parties case and find accordingly. So, if they do delete something, they need to have a very plausible and good case for having done so. Simply saying 'not enough space' or 'too hard' is not good enough.
This is what often causes the 7 year retention issue, although court cases can be brought beyond 7 years under some circumstances.
This article put a big smile on my face and that highlights Oracles problems. Customers hate them!! Nobody is too big to fail as has been shown many times over the years. Look at what's happened (happening) to IBM who abused a position of almost total domination for years. Oracle are following a well trodden path for those too big for their boots.
I'd really like to think of Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and others in cardboard boxes at the end of the street. Unfortunately, it won't happen, but the idea of tossing them a copper or two whilst they sell the Big Issue with their dogs always brings a smile to my face.
"A smart meter data describes in detail your usage pattern so it is a perfect tool to deduce are you at home, are you doing what you usually do and report it to anyone who can get a RIPA request for it."
To a degree, but not as much as you think. It supplies half-hourly meter readings (not a continuous graph etc.) once a day. Now, you can deduce some things from this, but not as much as a continuous graph. Indeed, this is one of the major shortcomings of the project. A continuous graph sent in near realtime would actually be very useful for the networks companies, but this is absolutely not what is being implemented.
"This is very well understood by the energy companies."
I beg to differ. The energy companies want to use this to supply more 'products' and 'offerings' to everyone. Look at all the extra products now available via your energy company... More products equals more profits.....hopefully.
"but, due to the redundancy of meter readers/data input staff and their support infrastructure, the energy suppliers will make tremendous savings and even larger profits."
Let's see what really happens. Wouldn't surprise me if we see no drop (or significant drop) in staff numbers. In the meantime, during deployment, staff numbers will increase dramatically. Did you know the comms hubs (bit that does the communications and talks to DCC and meters) is actually battery powered? They're trying to make the batteries last longer, but aren't doing very well at the moment to my knowledge. So, there'll be jobs there running around replacing batteries all the time!!
Also, a lot of the technology is really a bit dubious (IHDs for instance) and I suspect an awful lot of technical support jobs will be created to fix all the faults.
"Energy companies don't get any subsidy for this."
I sort of agree and sort of don't. I agree in as much as it isn't a direct subsidy per se. However, agreeing to allow them to add it to the bill (and the regulator looks the other way) is effectively the government giving a subsidy. It just goes direct from the customer to the supplier, rather than from customer to government (in some form of tax) and then to the supply company.
The whole justification for this is complete nonsense. The benefits will never be realised and it will dramatically increase the amount of sales bumf coming through our doors. Additionally, the supply companies are busy creating new websites etc. to try and make some use of the new information, costing even more!!
When will the government and supply companies realise the average consumer simply wants to pay the minimum possible for each unit of power (whether electricity or gas) and preferably never speak to their supply company, let alone have a 'conversation' with them. If you want to reduce your power usage, all the required information can be provided for a few pounds from your local DIY store. Insulate as much as possible, buy efficient appliances (they're all labelled now), switch things off when not in use and buy yourself a plug through meter (for appliances) or a whole house monitor (such as Owl) for a few quid if you want to know what's using what.
It certainly isn't rocket science, but £11billion (yeah right!! much higher now) would certainly pay for a lot of rocket science..................
With the quality, self-obsessed ego and rampant 'the only thing that matter is me' of the average middle to senior management team, the people setting the company agenda are normally the salesmen from suppliers. They offer to fix all the woes (which the managers then buy and blame everyone else when it doesn't) and you often see a lot of the managers end up working for them!! The Bribery Act needs a massive update as buying lots of stuff from a supplier and then going to work for them is just as much bribery (probably) as accepting a steak for lunch etc. which seems to be the focus at the moment. It really amazes me that I'm banned from accepting so much as a free lunch from a supplier, yet the senior management regularly go out and have slap up meals at very expensive restaurants with exactly the same companies.
Guess only us mere plebs at the bottom are open to bribery....................the managers are far more honest...........yeah right.
Re: Gross stupidity and idiocy
Hindsight is always 20:20. True. But, you hardly needed hindsight to see this one coming. Yes, the heavy load earlier on was probably just people trying it etc., but that was entirely predictable and therefore more resources should have been made available for this entirely predictable spike. It's called basic project management and common sense. Something that is entirely missing from anything connected to the government and many other IT shops.
The limited life code is entirely stupid. People need to be able to hire cars whenever and wherever they like. Assuming universal internet access is silly, as this simply isn't true. People do need to hire cars in the back of beyond as well as at their villa in Tuscany (probably the only place senior people at the DVLA ever hire cars). The information needed by the hire car company isn't onerous and isn't really that private either. As I said before, a lot of it is available in court records and newspapers and is therefore already public knowledge. So, the whole 'security' basis for this is somewhat misleading anyway.
If the work is planned correctly, you should be able to avoid 'big bangs' and therefore mitigate a lot of the risk. Having to do huge changes all in one go, is a sign of a badly planned project.
Re: Are they supposed to get a new code every few days?
"Do you want a non-expiring code that can be kept by (or leaked from) the car hire company or its employees, and be (mis)used to check up on your driver record at some undetermined later date?"
Do, what I want is some sanity. What information does the hire car company want? Basically, endorsements. So, why do we even need codes? Many endorsements are a matter of public record anyway, as looking in any local paper will tell you.......court reports etc. Speeding fines etc. might be fixed penalty.
The only information the hire car company needs to obtain is your endorsements (not DOB or anything like that), so why not simply let them look this information up from driver numbers? OK, anybody else who obtains my driver number might be able to look up my couple of speeding offences or whatever, but so what? If they're really that interested, I'm sure the DVLA call centre would happily discuss my entire driving record with a little social engineering...........
Gross stupidity and idiocy
You really couldn't make it. Been reading and listening (radio etc.) about how this new 'service' will work and once again, it appears to be for the benefit of the government pseudo-department (DVLA) rather than their customers. The process itself appears to have been designed by a half-wit. The idea that the code (for the rental company) only lasts for 72hours and then you have to logon and apply for another is so patently stupid, it defies belief. Even an idiot wouldn't have implemented this.
On top of the stupid process, we now know that DVLA can't even keep the website up!! They cite heavy load......well, there's a surprise. First day heavy load.....who would have thought. Is it really necessary for all managers at these places to be half-wits? All of this was entirely predictable and could easily have been catered for.
Re: Devils Advocate...
I think this probably depends on which country your in. In the UK, it is still civil, but I suspect it's become criminal in some countries as they keep trying to make it criminal. But, yes, aiding and abetting is only for criminal acts.
Re: Devils Advocate...
As a followup, eBay should really be shutdown as if you're looking for either cheap knockoff goods or stolen goods, people know that's a pretty good place to go!! Its got a bit of a name for itself!!
It's simply a marketplace and as such, a lot of criminal activity takes place across it. Therefore, by the same rules, shouldn't it be shut?
Re: Interesting Whichever Way the Verdict Goes
So, all TPB needed to do was create a load of links to non-infringing stuff (who cares what, not the point) and suddenly they become like Google or YouTube.
Flying close to the law is not an offence.
I also suspect (with as much certainty as you) that more than 1% (by a mile) of YouTube content is infringing. Do a search on various titles to do with StarWars. There's normally background music playing from the franchise. Do you reckon they've all got in touch with Lucas and got the right to add that music to their films? Have they paid the royalties etc.? I doubt it very much.
Perform the above on every film of the last 30 years and I'm sure you'll find a large proportion of YouTube content is infringing in some way or another.
Re: THE PIRATE BAY I LIKE SEX
Indeed so. As I said in an earlier post, politicians and business people need to sit down, think about it and come up with a sensible answer that actually acknowledges the reality of enforcement. They also need to consider all the crimes carried out by those complaining (e.g. Sony) and prosecute them and stop the cartels, profiteering, anti-competitive and sharp practice carried out by these companies. Then, maybe people would feel a bit better towards them, would pay a reasonable amount for the goods and be able to have reasonable enjoyment of them.
All these companies want to have their cake and eat it and have the money to effectively (in some cases literally) buy politicians.
Re: Easy Peasy...
Are the vast majority of torrents infringing copyright? Certainly, people seem to believe so, but I've never seen any evidence to the effect. Linux distros (for instance) use torrents widely, as does distribution of anything large. Yes, without doubt, infringing content is a fair bit, but so what? Are you say indexing anything which is used for a significant amount of unlawful use should be stopped? If so, we'd better stop Google in its tracks as the internet is widely used for criminal activity and more to the point, they know it. Indeed, Google indexes this criminal activity very widely, including torrents!!
The only possible difference is that Google could argue it's accidental, whereas with TPB, it could be argued to be the point for their existence. But, as I said, this is easy to fix. Just get TPB to index ALL torrents, illegal and legal, and then their profile is the same as Google......
Re: Devils Advocate...
Afraid you'll never get anywhere with this. British and American security services already have their own internal list to obtain these services.
This all comes under aiding and abetting. However, it's much harder than people think to even define this in the digital world.
The above would be a fairly simple and obvious case if that's all the website did. However, make the website somewhere where people can advertise 'services', which might include legal as well as illegal and the situation becomes somewhat more difficult. You might get a name for being a good place to go for these sorts of things, but it's no longer ALL you do, so quite easy to get around the law.
If the above weren't true, Google would be in severe trouble. After all, they index and advertise (through search) all manner of illegal activities, including the above, drugs, copyright infringement etc.etc. They are also just as aware that its going on. So, what's the difference. Why should a service advertising portal (even if its known for this sort of thing) be shutdown or prosecuted, but Google not? They're both fully aware that their services are being used for illegal acts.
Re: Interesting Whichever Way the Verdict Goes
Ah, but you've missed that YouTube is a big American company and therefore immune to all laws.
Re: bear in mind not all torrents are copyright infringements
Don't take my comment as support for piracy.
I think there are lots of reasons why people pirate, some better than others and the content providers are themselves the cause of a lot of it by their restrictive anti-competitive practices, clear monopolies and unfair business practices.
My post was about the ability to implement a law that would clearly allow those pirating to be prosecuted, whilst protecting the innocent. I was highlighting that it is pretty much impossible, which has been found out and is why decisions go on who the defendant is rather than their acts and the law. Hence, big American companies generally get away with things that individuals or smaller, non-American companies get prosecuted for. A good example would be Sony DRM and putting a virus (I'll call it that) onto peoples computers without their permission. That breached many laws (quite clearly), but nobody at Sony got prosecuted for such a widespread and wholesale hack.
Piracy is like drug enforcement. We've been trying to implement drug controls for years and have completely failed. Drug use is easily as rife now as before and probably worse. So, at some point, you have to look again, realise you're trying to enforce the impossible and change tack. Politicians and company owners/executives are, however, not good at this. It involves a leap they are simply not capable of making. This is the issue.
Re: Easy Peasy...
This is where the fun starts.
If you interpret laws absolutely, it tends to be more black and white, but it makes drafting them very difficult. A law that is interpreted absolutely tends to be easier to get round.
If you interpret laws by intent, you get into all sorts of issues as well. Who knows what the intent was? After all, only those who drafted the laws and each person involved might have had different intents. Also, you have the courts now having to try and determine the intent of the person in the dock, which is, of course, impossible. Only the person being tried actually 'knows' their intent.
So, both absolute and intent based are open to all sorts of issues.
The problem that also comes into play is different rulings for different entities.
Googles INTENT is to index web content. This is the same intent as Pirate Bay. Google does index torrents, as well as other stuff. Does that mean that if Pirate Bay also indexed non-torrent (and bear in mind not all torrents are copyright infringements) content, they would actually be doing the same? You could argue Google is worse as it probably does a better job of indexing more copyright infringing material than Pirate Bay does!! On the other hand, it also indexes a lot more non-infringing.
Doesn't matter how you look at it, it's one rule for some and another rule for others!!
If you're a company (especially American), big and rich, you can basically do anything you like!!
Re: But the bit they didn't mention
How does it take 12-18 months? You simply pull the cable and stop the data flow!!
Really? I doubt it.
Given the complete contempt the NSA has shown for the law in the past, does anybody really believe it will be shut down?
It'll just carry on, but they'll deny it and threaten anybody who tries to expose it.
This is probably not worth worrying about now anyway. The horse has bolted. People should really be asking what more they're doing, rather than going over old ground.
Turn it around
Change it around and make them prove they've done enough. There's plenty of places in English law now where you're guilty until proven innocent.
Most effective solution
The most effective solution to prevent data breaches etc. is simply not to store it in the first place. Some data is required of course, but huge amounts of data, not really required, are kept by most businesses. How many companies have got records going back decades? How many know far more about you than is really required to perform their business? A lot.
If you don't have the data, you can't leak it!!
Many companies actually go out of their way to obtain more and more data about people without having any real idea of its value or what they're going to do with it. The view is, the more data they have on a customer, the most useful it MIGHT be in the future. Much of it proves not to be, but is a big leak risk.
Re: In other words...
Fines are never the answer. Most executives are at a company so short a time that they don't care about the company, whether it survives or financially viable. They're there top make a few quick bucks and then move on. So, if they get away with it and don't get caught, more money for the bonus pot. If they do get caught, worse case the company disappears and you move on. It's a win/win situation for execs.
The only solution is to make them personally responsible, with serious personal fines and jailtime. Take away plausible deniability and make them demonstrate exactly why they're not liable rather than prove they are. Make them prove they did enough. Then, execs might start taking this stuff seriously.
They're paid a lot of money for the responsibility they supposedly carry. However, in reality there isn't really any responsibility. So, let's make them responsible and earn their money.
Rather pointless law
Doesn't this seem a rather pointless law? Doesn't any kidnapping/hostage situation normally result in this. I can't really understand why there needs to be a specific law for this, as the situation can't exist in isolation (surely)? Isn't it covered by the other laws being broken at the same time?
Re: Automatic bricking...
I agree totally. 'Unless proven guilty' is very true. Mind you, the way things are going, innocence and guilt are becoming rather irrelevant. If they want to get you, they will!! You can see this with all the far reaching and high interpretable laws being implemented.
Re: Automatic bricking...
"I'm not sure what we're talking about here is "destroying evidence". If the police haven't yet put it in one of their plastic bags, and haven't made a formal request for it to be provided, is it "evidence", or is it just data?"
It's evidence. Companies (for instance) have a legal requirement to hold data for as long as it could be used in a court case (and therefore becomes evidence). I believe (please do check) that this also applies to individuals (e.g. tax information etc.). This is why destroying emails (even before a police investigation) is considered destroying evidence, although they would need to prove it was deliberate rather than just incompetence.
The point here would be to make it something the police do that causes the destruction. You are under no obligation to help the police (as a potential suspect) in their enquiries and if something they do has a negative effect (e.g. wiping data), they can't claim you should have told them. If they don't take enough care when examining the PC, that's their problem...
Re: Automatic bricking...
'TrueCrypt's "plausible deniability" setting, one of it's very best features. The only downside was constructing a truly plausible collection of files that didn't look like stand-in crap.'
The whole point of justice in this country is supposed to be (consider if you think it still is) innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, it shouldn't really matter what files are there. The fact you chose to protect them (for whatever reason) is your business. It is up to plod to demonstrate there is a secondary volume rather than for you to show there isn't.
"The US has historically held value in the savings of one well-placed shot."
Over the years, the US has got a reputation for bombing the living daylights out of everything. Rather than put troops in danger, they'd rather drop a huge amount of ordnance from the skies. I'm sure the people of Iraq and Afghanistan (especially the former) would agree with that in general. As far as I know, this has been so for many years. During Vietnam, the US was reknowned for mass bombing missions (generall unguided), which resulted in all sorts of bad press as villages and all sorts got hit, hence some very famous footage.
Re: "imagine what a trained Scout Sniper can do"
"All main battle tank guns are smooth bore and they generally don't fire guided munitions."
Errr. Apart from those that aren't. The L30A1 in the Challenger is rifled. Indeed, there is a long history of rifled guns in tanks. The L11A5 in the Chieftain. There has also been a long list of British 105mm tank guns, which are all rifled and have been exported very widely.
Mmmmm. Man manges to make twenty something million pounds (according to the Americans) and yet still continues to live in Hounslow? Really? Presumably, the Americans think Hounslow is some sort of sleepy, lovely village in England where everyone with a few million would choose to live.
Re: Not worth going then
"However, I consider it important and incumbent on *everyone* to think about what they write and how it could be misconstrued."
I sort of agree, but you hit another problem with the english language. Any particular statement or sentence can be read so many different ways, it is almost impossible to say anything substantial without potentially offending someone. Yes, some things are very clearly and obviously offensive, again not because of the words, but the context of the whole piece etc. However, I've seen many people take offence at things that are actually quite neutral and certainly not meant in that way.
People highly sensitised one way or the other are the first to jump to the wrong conclusion, as they have a pre-conceived bias to do so. I used to work with a woman who if you held a door open for her would take great offence that you were doing it because she was a woman. Problem was, I'd hold a door open for anyone if they were following behind me. It's not about man/woman, it's about being polite in general. But, as she was a rampant feminist, she automatically assumed everyone was treating her differently as she was a woman. This made her a nightmare. She would take deep offence at the most minor of things.
A bloke moaning in the office on a Monday morning about having to wait around in shops whilst his wife spent hours trying on dresses would get a verbal tirade on being sexist etc.etc. She effectively had few friends and nobody would talk to her. She, of course, took this as sexism from IT men who hated her doing an IT job. It wasn't. It was her attitude and actions made it impossible to talk to her in any sensible way and she was just a nightmare co-worker, not for being a woman, but for instantly assuming everyone was trying to insult or undermine her.
If we're all to live in harmony, we need to get rid of these extreme ends of the spectrum and get more to the middle ground. In their own way, the liberals purporting to support all these anti-ism stances, are actually as bigoted as the people who they're trying to stop. Liberal is absolutely the worst word to describe them as they are anything but.
Re: Not worth going then
"Ideas and situations change, mostly for the better. We don't use terms like paki, nig-nog, wog or coon any more because they're nasty, racist and only serve to demean others based on skin colour and cause friction."
Oh dear, not this old nonsense. Words are not racist, sexist or any other 'ist' you care of think of. They are completely neutral. It is the way they are used, context, body language etc. around their use that confers the 'ism' or not.
There was a very well known comedy on British TV in the 70s called Love Thy Neighbour. Nobody today would ever make it because of the language used. The black chap would refer to the white chap as 'chalky' (is this a racist word?) and the white chap would use all sorts of stereotypical words to describe the black chap..........nignog etc.etc. The funny thing about it was, they were actually best mates in the programme. Quite a lot of people didn't get it and the liberals at the time threw their toys out the pram as they simply went by the language and not all the other nuances around the language, which conveyed the real intent. The two guys would go down the put together and socialise together. The actors even spoke of this afterwards and explained everything.
So, words are not racist etc. at all. It is the way they are used. That is both the beauty and danger of the english language. You can use a sexist word like 'babe' to a woman if all the other signs are right (glint in the eye etc.), but get them wrong and you'll get a slap. The context can even change based on whether you know the person or not, or how well you know them. The only people who really believe words are racist, sexist etc. inherently, are those that simply don't properly understand human interaction and all its nuances and subtleties.
Surely the correct punishment for running a pirated operating system is being forced to upgrade to Windows 8.1? Comparatively speaking, surely Windows 10 will be community service?
Replacing one problem with another
All we're doing is replacing one problem with another. Peoples inability to drive (decision making, sensory overload etc.) is being replaced by peoples inability to code properly!! Look at the number of bugs present in code that has to do relatively mundane things and then think of the number of bugs that will be present in code needed to drive a car!
I'm looked forward to the following in no particular order:-
1. BSOD whilst driving. Quick reboot is really important under these circumstances.
2. Sensor failures whilst driving....or more important, sensors going slightly out of whack.
3. Advistories suggesting you don't drive cars in certain conditions until fix xyz applied.
5. Looking at the firewall log whilst driving and realising someone is trying to hack in.
Now, that's a very deep south sounding name.
Surely her dating website should be:-
If that's a problem, I'm offering myself as the solution!!
Come on all you beauties, I'll take it on the chin and give you plenty of attention of whatever type you like :-)
Re: Look out MENSA
Yes, I thought it was as well!! Perhaps I should apply for MENSA? What an appalling thought.
The one character trait that really irritates me beyond all others is people who are completely up themselves. Don't care what the trait is.....beauty, money, intelligence, impeccable dress sense. You name it.
Anybody who runs around letting others know how superior they are in some sense or another is generally a poor person in my book. A little hubris goes a long way.
Personally, I'm all for becoming the founder member of www.richandhandsomeandintelligentandhunglikeadonkey.com.
Anyone care to join me?
Look out MENSA
Presumably, the MENSA website is in for the same sort of abuse. After all, what's the difference? This website is for beautiful people only (how you judge that I'm not too sure), whereas MENSA is for people with very high IQs.
It's always struck me that both represent a lot of stuck up people, trying to lord it around over some perceived advantage they have.
If beautiful people are considered airheads etc. (as has been suggested in many posts), does this mean people belonging to MENSA are all ugly hags?
Re: Didn't realise it was so long ago!
@Yet Another Anonymous Coward.
"But their level of evasion would have payed for teachers, nurses, etc
Your level of evasion would only have paid for an MP's lunch"
I don't disagree with your summary, but does that make it a worse crime? I'm asking a question and not postulating an answer. I'm asking people to consider if the severity of the crime is proportionate to the percentage you've evaded, or the absolute amount. I can see arguments both ways, but often with tax evasion, it seems people with a lot of money and who have evaded the most in absolute measure, but not necessarily by percentage, are massively pilloried compared to those who evade a large percentage, but smaller absolute amount.
Take for example a builder. He agrees to do some jobs tax in hand. He evades £5k in tax, but still pays £20k in total. Then, take a millionaire. He should have paid £400k in tax, but actually managed to evade £10k. Which is the bigger criminal? If they actually evaded the same amount (both £5k), do you not think the millionaire would get a much worse time of it and be more pilloried in the press? Is that fair?
Re: Politcally created issue
You're quite right, but confusing different things. In some cases, HMRC was asked to rule on the legality of some financial instrument and gave an opinion on the basis of the information they were given. Now, if this information proves to be false or the instrument isn't run in the manner described, then they can retrospectively withdraw their opinion (and therefore make you very open to legal action) due to the deviation between the two. This has always been the case.
However, HMRC and the government have to obey the law just as much (said laughingly) as anyone else and therefore can't just make up their minds what is and is not allowed on a whim. There has to be a law that says it isn't allowed. HMRC are merely being asked to interpret the law from their perspective and give an opinion. If you disagree with their opinion, you can still do it and it is up to HMRC to take you to court and get a judge to agree with their opinion and not yours. Now, for obvious reasons, the judge normally sides with HMRC, although there have been cases where this hasn't happened.
In the past, there was no law that said avoidance was illegal. Even if the sole purpose of the instrument was to avoid tax, it was still legal and this is what many accountants would play professional oneupmanship on. Who could come up with the cleverest way to stay within the law, whilst minimising tax. The law change has effectively said that unless you can prove the instrument exists for reasons other than tax avoidance, it is illegal, which is a wholesale change.
So, ALL ISAs are illegal in every way. They are setup with the sole intention of avoiding the payment of income tax on the interest earned. The difference is that government has said they like them and they're OK, so HMRC are ignoring it. However, a loan from a company that you never intend to repay (a common occurrence in the past and I believe similar to what Jimmy Carr was doing) has gone from legal to illegal!! Both are purely trying to evade income tax. One is legal, one is not. How come?
@Richard Taylor 2
'I don't believe anything in Swiss law makes it compulsory to aggressively push tax evasion services and hide money from taxation authorities around the world. Now the spirit of Swiss laws is another thing.'
I think you're asking the wrong question. It should be; is there anything in Swiss law that makes it illegal to aggressively push tax evasion services (where it happens in another country)'? Now, I'm pretty sure the answer is no. I'd be pretty certain it isn't even illegal if the evasion occurs in Switzerland, as I suspect the law makes the person giving the return the perpetrator rather than their bank. However, that is irrelevant.
Therefore, in Switzerland, HSBC have not broken any laws. The only person who has broken any laws is the man who stole all the data!! Don't forget that it isn't illegal to incite someone to commit most offences (some like riot are). Even in the UK, I could incite you to file a false tax return, but I wouldn't be committing an offence as it is actually you (the filer) who has committed the offence, as the tax return itself states!! Indeed, one of the jokes about accountants is that when they make a mistake, the person whose finances they've messed up is found guilty and he has to seek redress from the accountant under civil negligence laws........
Re: I'm way too poor to avoid tax @LucreLout
Sounds like a perfect accountant to me. I've never been able to understand how accountants work out good will and such like in business accounts. Seems to be a means of adjusting profit up or down according to what you want the accounts to say. This sort of maths seems pretty par for the course with accountants.