Tag: israel

Google and Facebook investigated by Israeli tax man

The Israeli Tax Authority has opened an inquiry into the local antics of tech giants Google and Facebook.

The taxmen have conducted meetings with clients of Google, asking detailed questions about the methods used by Google and Facebook to conduct local operations.

Questions put to clients centered around the degree of involvement that local representatives of Google and Facebook had in designing marketing campaigns, and setting budgets and targets for clients.

Basically the Israeli’s are unsure if the Israeli teams were acting independently, or if they were referring business matters to overseas headquarters and then merely implementing corporate decisions in the local market.

Should the investigation conclude with the determination that Google and Facebook Israel teams are independently responsible for activities in the local market, the tax authority may recommend that the companies pay a rather a large tax to the Israeli government for business conducted within the country.

Facebook and Google claim that they operate in Ireland, thereby avoiding paying direct or indirect taxes to the Israeli government.

Research shows that total online advertising expenditures topped $333 million in Israel in 2015, with online taking an ever-expanding segment of budgets from traditional advertising. Of that $333 million, over half was dedicated to spending on social media and search sites, two areas dominated by Facebook and Google.

In April 2016, the Israel Tax Authority unveiled a new set of guidelines regarding tax liability for foreign corporations operating in Israel. Under these rules, an international company would owe taxes if its services were produced in Israel. To prevent double taxation with countries that have international tax agreements with Israel, the foreign corporation must have a permanent establishment within Israel.

A permanent establishment was defined as a physical space used by the business to conduct operations, or a virtual space – including a website – where agents are empowered to conduct local business and enter into contracts on behalf of the corporation.

Intel’s new HQ is a paradise for control freaks

control-freak-quotes-6Chipzilla’s new Israeli HQ is being used to show off its latest internet of things systems and it is rather good if you are the sort who likes outsourcing everything to your boss.

Intel wants the building to be the “smartest” in the world.  When it is finished in 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel it will be based around the latest internet of things technology, which was developed in Israel. The 366,000-square-foot building will house all 2,500 of the company’s employees in the country. It is expected to be completed in 2019.

The building will have the capability of learning the habits of every employee and customizing his or her working environment. Among other things, the building will know what coffee to make for each employee, and how to make it, when to send him or her to get a haircut, and it can recommend where to park.

Sounds great in many ways, if you like the idea of your boss knowing everything about you.  We guess it will know when you are likely to go to the loo and how long you take in there. Other noteworthy services will include setting air conditioning temperatures in meetings based on the combined preferences of each attendee, and determining when the best hour for each employee to eat is, whether or not their favorite dish is being served and if their friends are available to join.

The building  will also contain 3,500-square metres of electronic labs, three restaurants, a café, a gym, a spa, a beauty salon and a learning and convention center.




Facebook to let the Israelis help censor your news feed

IsraelThe social notworking outfit DeFacebook has decided to allow the Israeli government to help censor news feeds to make sure that people do not get the wrong idea about the way it handles the Palestinians.

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister said that it had agreed with Facebook how to tackle “incitement” on the social media network.

For those who came in late, if you think that the Israel government’s approach to the Palestinians is a little heavy handed and you make a post saying something like that, you are apparently inciting the Palestinians to revolt. Who would have thunk it?

The Israelis are pressing ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence and  two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter.

Israel claims that most of the problems in Palestine are not caused by it making life hell on toast for occupants, raiding and demolishing buildings looking for terrorists, or building a bloody big wall to keep them out, but because of social media. Which is odd because this problem was around before social media became a thing.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel’s battle against the “online provocations”, participated in Monday’s meeting.

Erdan’s office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further.

If Facebook does not do what it is told then Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content that Israel considers to be incitement.

In a statement, Facebook said “online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world.”

The social media company also said its community standards “make it clear there is no place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook.” It called the meeting “constructive,” but offered no details about its conclusions.

The plan is that the Israeli security authorities will monitor for incitement, and then complain to Facebook. The company determines whether the material in question violates its community standards, removing some items but allowing others to stay.

Shaked said Monday that over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube. She said Facebook granted some 95 percent of the requests and YouTube granted 80 percent.

Israel’s tech-hub running out of experts

IsraelIsrael’s thriving tech hub which is home to many startups is fast running out of qualified staff.

For years, Tel Aviv’s silicon valley has been the place to go for cutting edge start-ups, but now the region is running out of employees necessary to continue.

There is an alarming lack of engineers, technicians and even doctors and a brutal fight for skilled employees. Some start-ups are having to look overseas and leaving the Promised Land, or try bringing in new staff.

Israel’s chief scientist, Avi Hasson, fears that over the next decade the country will face a shortage of about 10,000 engineers and programmers in a market that currently employs 140,000. He said that the  issue of skilled and available manpower is the main barrier to growth and competitiveness in the field of high tech.

The industry, which sprouted from an advanced military and flourished with state backing, became a major growth engine and investment magnet for Israel.

Some of it has been the arrival of international companies which have been buying up start-ups and poaching staff. Facebook, Google and others can make offers 50 percent above market and equity packages that are very lucrative.

To make matters worse Israel’s population is getting older and a chunk of the population – the Arab and the ultra-Orthodox Jewish minorities are not getting the required eductation levels. Combined, Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews make up about 30 percent of the population.

University graduates in maths and computer science fell to 1,600 in 2008 from 3,000 in 2005. The figure has recovered, but not returned to prior levels. Israel is ranked 17 among the 34 members of the OECD in the ease of finding skilled workers.

Tech companies prospered for years by tapping into the skills of workers trained in the military or intelligence sectors and start-ups benefiting from tax breaks and government funding. But those are drying up.

Two years ago Israel lost the top spot it held for more than a decade among the OECD when it comes to investment in research and development, mainly due to a steep drop in government investment. South Korea is now top of the tree.

Unlike many countries, it is really difficult to bring in foreign workers into the country. Some Israeli’s ironically say that getting a work permit is harder than to making peace in the region.

In the 1990s, the influx of one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union helped fuel Israel’s high-tech boom. Today about 30,000 people arrive annually, but it is not enough to meet the demands of the growing industry.


Israel slams Facebook over terrorism

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRThe Israeli government is blaming Facebook for permitting terrorism amongst the Palestinian population.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan claimed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in part to blame for the murders of Hallel Ariel and Michael Mark.  Ariel’s murderer announced his intentions on the website before committing the crime.

He said that Facebook might have bought a positive revolution to the world, but now it has become a monster.

“The young generation in the Palestinian Authority suckles all of its incitement against Israel from Facebook and, in the end, goes and commits murders. Some of the blood of the victims of the recent attacks, including that of Hallel, may her memory be blessed is unfortunately on the hands of Mark Zuckerberg, because the police and security forces could have been told about the post of that vile murderer.”

Erdan accused Facebook of “sabotaging the work of the police,” because when the police turn to the company, if it is regarding a resident of Judea and Samaria, the company does not cooperate. He said the site also places a very high standard for what is considered incitement in posts.

“If other media outlets were to demonstrate how to murder Jews, they would have been closed immediately,” Erdan said. “This is the time for citizens of Israel to demand, in any way they can, that he [Zuckerberg] monitor the platform he created from which he has made billions and remove inciting content. The responsibility is his.”

Facebook said the comments were a little unfair given that the social networking site works regularly with security organizations and decision makers around the world.

“There is no place for content that encourages violence, direct threats, terror or words of hate on our platform. Facebook has a regular dialogue with the [Israeli] government on such issues.”

Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit pointed out that Erdan was not blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said Israel had the technology to fight terrorism and monitor social media.

However, he did say that Facebook has become an incubator of the new terror” and warned that “amid thousands of likes and shares the terrorists are getting now, the next attack is being hidden.”


Sony to buy Altair

sonySony is to write a cheque to buy the Israeli chipmaker Altair Semiconductor for $212 million.

The move is widely seen as the PS4 maker stepping up its investment in chip technology after strong sales of camera sensors in the last few years helped turnaround the business.

Altair Semiconductor has developed technology to allow small devices such as security alarms and electricity meters to connect to mobile networks, told Reuters last year that it was considering an initial public offering.  The sudden buy out then is surprising but a sensible move for Sony.

There has been a lot of consolidation in the chip industry of late and it is fast getting difficult to find someone to consolidate with.  It is thought that those who can merge with other companies have already done so and will spend the rest of this year restructuring ready for next year.

Sony said it expects to close the deal in early February.

Israelis do a Turkey over YouTube

youtube-hamas-israelThe Israeli government is getting hacked off that scenes of its soldiers attacking Palestinians are finding their way onto YouTube.

The Israelis have managed to keep such footage off the air by forcing hacks and hackettes to submit all footage to government censorship. This has worked rather well as most of the world had been unaware of some key incidents.

But now it appears the Palestinians have been posting footage on YouTube which so far has not been censored. Israel has decided to adopt the same approach used by Turkey when its citizens post footage it does not like – it “works with” YouTube and Google to keep the footage off-line. In Turkey’s case it finds a judge to shut down YouTube completely.

Israeli daily Maariv said Tzipi Hotovely will be “working with Google and YouTube officials” in a joint mechanism that will be in charge of “monitoring and preventing” any publication of materials deemed by Tel Aviv to be “inflammatory”.

Hotovely announced in a Hebrew-only press release that she met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices.

Hotovely said she is worried that videos showing Israeli’s behaving badly might encourage young children to go out and stab: “The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement.”

Researchers develop fast charging battery

An Israeli start-up has created a battery which can recharge from 20 percent to 100 percent in 30 seconds.

StoreDot has built a prototype that, after its fast recharge, acts the same way as a regular battery.

The technique involved using organic “nanodots,” or two nanometer wide bio-organic peptide molecules that change the rules of mobile device capabilities.

While the nanodots allow for blazing-fast recharging, they ensure that the StoreDot battery discharges at the same rate as today’s lithium-ion batteries.

Sadly the technology is not ready for the market place yet. It is far too big to get under the bonnet of any smartphone.

Apparently these hurdles that could potentially be overcome, and StoreDot is hoping to have something commercially viable by 2016.

It has already collected $6 million in investment from an Asian company if it pulls off the miniaturisation of the battery.

If it pulls it off the technology has a lot of advantanges. Not only do they charge faster, manufacturing Nanodots is cost-effective, using a natural process and readily available organic materials, the company says

Google buys Israeli security startup

Google might be considering improvements to its two-factor authentication.

The search engine outfit has just written a cheque to buy SlickLogin which was a company only founded a year ago.

SlickLogin developed a new smart identification Two-Factor Authentication which uses high frequency sounds as pass keys. The technology is expected to be put under the bonnet of Google’s latest user identification security parameters

It is not clear how much Google paid for the company. Suggestions are that it was several million. But that is not bad considering the age of SlickLogin. The outfit was founded under a year ago by Or Zelig, Eran Galili and Ori Kabeli. The company first unveiled its technology at TechCrunch Disrupt held last September. It has not launched its product nor have they any customers to date.

The idea behind SlickLogin is that passwords are not sufficient to keep users and their information safe.

SLickLogin’s idea consists of a cloud-based platform that uses two factors of identification without burdening the user with a process involving landing pages or actions other than typing a password.

Two-Factor Authentication already exists and is being applied in a number of areas but SlickLogin obviates the need for additional hardware by relying on user smartphones. It also does not require the user to receive a text message or move any given mobile device to their computer. Rather it performs the identification independently by playing an ultrasonic frequency from the mobile device.

The system on the computer or any other device analyses the frequency for identification and no other additional identification process is required. The process side just has the user typing their username and password, since the rest of the process is carried out automatically and transparently when the two devices are near each other. 

Israelis blame Palestinians for defence ministry computer breach

The Israeli government has blamed the Palestinians for a hack attack of a Defence ministry computer.

The hack was via an email attachment tainted with malicious software that looked like it had been sent by the country’s Shin Bet secret security service.

Aviv Raff, chief technology officer at Seculert, said the hackers earlier this month temporarily took over 15 computers, one of them belongs to Israel’s Civil Administration that monitors Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territory.

Raff said that there were similarities to a cyber-assault on Israeli computers waged more than a year ago from a server in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The only difference is that this time the attack was conducted from a server in the United States. However, the experts noticed writing and composition similarities with the earlier attack.

Israel defence department officials have refused to comment on the findings but then again neither have the Palestinians.

It is not clear what the hackers actually did when they had control of the computer at the Civil Administration.

The Civil Administration is a unit of Israel’s defence ministry that oversees the passage of goods between Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. It also issues entry permits to Palestinians who work in Israel.

Raff did not say what the other 14 computers targeted by the hackers did. They seem to have  included companies involved in supplying Israeli defence infrastructure.

What is surprising is that in a security obsessed nation like Israel that many people were prepared to open a dodgy attachment. Apparently, the email included an attachment about ex- Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who had just died.

To be fair, the email that burrowed into the Israeli defence ministry computer looked like it had been sent from the Shin Bet security service, Raff said.

Raff’s firm was able to “sinkhole” the operation, tricking the hacked software into communicating with servers that Seculert controlled in order to figure out which computers were infected and to deactivate the attack.