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Maryland Policymakers Target Big Tech Monopolies with New Ad Revenue Tax Law

McKenzie Elyse

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Amid a growing effort by lawmakers to keep big tech accountable for its scope of influence, Maryland passed the first piece of legislation in the country to impose a tax on revenue from online advertisements last Friday. The bill was passed with a 29-17 vote, marking a historic move in the sphere of internet regulation and taxation.

According to the new law, companies that make between $100 million and $1 billion a year must pay a 2.5 percent tax on their ad revenue. Companies that bring in more than $15 billion a year, such as Facebook and Google, face a 10% tax rate. The earnings brackets apply to businesses on a global scale, while the taxation rate will only apply to revenue earned from devices located in Maryland.

Other states have seen similar bills introduced in Congress. Connecticut and Indiana may be next to pass tax laws that affect tech giants; several others introduced online revenue tax bills last year, though the votes fell short and no changes were made. It is likely that these bills will be reintroduced in the coming months following Maryland’s success.

Bill Ferguson, the left-leaning president of the State Senate, was the champion of the Maryland tech tax legislation.

“This idea that one outsider can exploit and use the personal data of another area and pay nothing for its use, that doesn’t work in the long run,” Ferguson said.

Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have been the epicenter of many recent controversies regarding the lack of online regulation. An onslaught of antitrust cases against the Silicon Valley corporations has been underway since last July, indicating growing public dissent for underregulated and undertaxed tech beasts.

Among those who have initiated legal action against the tech giants is Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, who recently filed a lawsuit against Apple and Google for violating antitrust laws with their payment requirements. You can read our article about the Epic Games lawsuit to learn more.

Opponents of the new law argue that the bill is vaguely worded, and that smaller businesses will likely suffer while the high-value tech corporations find loopholes and continue to evade taxation. They also speculate that the introduction of such legislation could undercut consumer choice by pushing more subscription-based services, leaving behind advertising-based online business models and further restricting information that would otherwise be free to the public.

As the bill goes into effect, and with many other states likely to impose similar taxes in the coming months, time will tell how this legislation will affect the online business landscape.

 

I'm a copywriter, journalist, and web content creator with a strong passion for my work. Crafting narratives of the world around me brings me an incredible sense of joy — there's nothing I would rather be doing. Besides writing, I enjoy cooking, mixology, music, and my weird cat named Marceline.

Apple

Here’s What Apple Announced at Today’s Event

Colin Edge

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Apple held its first event of 2021 today at Apple Park in Cupertino. Predictions and rumors preceding the event had reached a fever pitch regarding when it would happen and what it would reveal. Apple put speculation to rest in its hour-long “Spring Loaded” event.

The name choice proved appropriate. Apple was loaded with lots to announce.

Following black-t-shirt-clad Tim Cook on a stroll through Apple Park, the tech giant announced: Apple Card Family; an Apple Podcasts redesign; a new purple iPhone 12; AirTag; Apple TV 4K with a new Siri remote; a new iMac; the new iPad Pro.

While fans and insiders all-but expected the iPad Pro and even AirTags, conversation surrounding an Apple TV rehaul and an iMac makeover looked like an either/or situation. To have all four of these major products announced concurrently is like Christmas in April.

Not to mention a Ted Lasso season two trailer; that show is the bomb.

If the event could be boiled down to one key feature, it would be the M1 chip. The consolidated, superpowered, Apple-original chip will be integrated into the new iPad Pros and iMacs. The team at Apple is thrilled about it, and for good reason. The new and improved products will be state of the art in speed, performance, and battery efficiency. 

Starting with the big finale and working backwards through the “big four”, the long-awaited iPad Pro confirmed most industry suspicions about specs and features.

In a fun, Mission: Impossible-themed unveil (complete with an unmasking that revealed Tim Cook as the secret agent), Apple announced the new iPad Pro. The new Pro is enhanced with the M1 chip, a 10,000 mini-LED “Liquid Retina XDR” display (in 12.9-inch models), and Thunderbolt compatibility in its USB-C port. 

The iPad Pro’s camera sports the new “Center Stage” feature, enabling the camera to automatically stay on the subject as he or she moves around the shot. Finally, the Pros also feature 5G connectivity, a 2TB storage configuration, and a new white-colored magic keyboard. 

iMac may have been the most delightful surprise of the event. Also built around the M1 chip, the all-new iMac features a 24-inch screen, thinnest-ever design (11.5mm), and a 4.5k Retina display. Other specs include a new 6-speaker sound system, 1080p FaceTime camera, and 7 different bright and vivid color options.

Apple TV has been long overdue for a makeover, and today it got one. The new set-top box will house an A12 bionic chip, 4K high frame rate HDR, and enhanced compatibility with existing Apple devices like AirPods. Most notably, however, the new Apple TV comes with an updated Siri remote. A new remote became a point of speculation and debate after a coding leak revealed plans for a third-party Apple-compatible cable remote. Apple will now have its own new remote on the scene as well. 

Finally, the much-rumored AirTag will be available April 30th. The small disks can be attached to important personal items to keep track of them via the Find My app. Apple devices with the U1 chip (like iPhone 11 & 12) can now provide “Precision Finding”, directing you to your lost item with remarkable, step-by-step accuracy. AirTags can be personalized, and will naturally be accompanied by stylish accessories (and likely scores of third-party ones in the future). Apple assured users that privacy measures are taken to ensure AirTags are used ethically.

Apple also doubled-down on its commitment to the environment, as mentioned throughout the event. The company hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030, and all of this new hardware is made with 100% recycled aluminum. 

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Apple

Apple Spring Event Will Take Place April 20, Likely to Reveal New iPads and AirTags

Colin Edge

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Apple has finally announced the date for its spring event. The iconic tech company sent out email invites to press for a virtual spring event taking place Tuesday, April 20, at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET). The event will be live streamed on Apple’s website.

The invite shows an Apple Pencil squiggle with spring-themed colors, and features the tagline “Spring Loaded”. Fans have already begun speculating what that catchy phrase could mean – is Apple teasing something?

But the announcement actually got out before invites were sent, courtesy of a Siri slip-up. Hours before the formal announcement, several sleuths found that if asked when the next Apple event was taking place, Siri responded: “The special event is on Tuesday, April 20, at Apple Park in Cupertino, CA. You can get all the details on Apple.com.” Thanks, Siri.

Apple geeks are thrilled with official news of an event, as speculation had been ramping up for months. After March came and went, predictions surrounding an event became wildly numerous and diverse concerning the nature of the event, when it might happen, and whether or not it was happening at all.

The star of the show is expected to be Apple’s new iPad Pro. The new models are likely to feature mini-LED screens and a new chip (potentially the in-house produced M1 chips currently installed in the MacBook Pro 13-inch and Air). Long-rumored AirTags may also make an appearance. The new Apple tracking devices could attach to personal items like a wallet or purse, and work with the Find My app to keep tabs on them. Third-party trackers from companies like Samsung and Tile already exist on the market.

Apple is also planning to hold the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) virtually in June. Apple enthusiasts are glad to know that WWDC is taking place in addition to, not instead of, a spring event.

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Apple Spring Event Predictions

Colin Edge

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Conversation among Apple insiders, leakers, and fans has been pointing to a spring event since 2020. Momentum is mounting like a snowball. Several product announcements are reported to be coming soon, some of which could take place at a spring event.

But… here we are. In spring. And no event. (So far.)

Thus the first prediction to make is whether or not the event will take place at all. Well-known leaker Jon Prosser has, somewhat ostentatiously, been proven wrong in tweeting predictions of a spring event alleged to take place in March. Precedent further confuses the matter, as Apple has held spring events in March for the last decade. But with that month having come and gone, we’re left with April. 

Apple announcement events typically happen on Monday/Tuesday, so current predictions are hovering around April 19, 20, 26, or 27. Then there’s the chance of no event at all. With WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) right around the corner in June, the squeeze to fit in a spring event is looking tight. But with rumors of so much new hardware coming to a head, there’s still ample reason to believe the event will happen.

You may want a glass of water after all the grains of salt you’ll need to take with this news. If a spring event really is on the horizon, this is what’s been predicted to drop:

New iPad Pros are expected to be the first of Apple’s fresh devices to arrive. The updated models are said to have LED screens, a new processor, and Thunderbolt ports for greater connectivity. These specs are not confirmed, but have been leaked by solid sources, including Ming-Chi Kuo and Bloomberg. However, different sources suggested this week that the Pros would be released April 13, with a press release instead of an event. But take that with a grain of salt.

“AirTags” have reportedly been in the works for at least a year, and many are hoping for them to drop this spring. These little guys could attach to your valuables and work with the Find My app to help you locate them when lost. While code leaks have suggested both the existence of the product and its name, Apple somewhat scrambled theories with a press release this week. The Find My app will now be expanded to allow for compatibility with 3rd party devices. Perhaps the Find My update is simply setting the stage for Apple’s own tracking device. But take that with a grain of salt.

Finally, there are two more, farther out possibilities. Apple TV and iMac are both due for an overhaul. If Apple is planning to announce one or both of those releases at a spring event, we’d gladly welcome the news. Salt… grain… you get it.

I’m not sure why the tech giant wouldn’t hold an event. The virtual events in 2020 went very well for Apple, and fans will eat it up, whether it’s a big announcement or a quick check-in. That said, the very most recent reports (iPad Pro release sans event, Find My 3rd party capability, etc.) find me bracing for disappointment. If an event takes place, it will be met with delighted surprise, rather than justified foresight.

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