The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

On the trail of South Korea's high-tech peeping Toms

Yahoo – AFP, Jung Ha-Won, October 18, 2016

A member of Seoul's 'hidden camera-hunting' squad moves a hand-held detector
around the toilet seat of a women's bathroom stall in search of a 'secret camera'
(AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)

Walking into an empty women's bathroom stall, Park Kwang-Mi waves a hand-held detector around the toilet seat, paper roll holder, doorknob and even the ventilation grill on the ceiling.

"It's my job to make sure there's no camera to film women while they relieve themselves," the 49-year-old said after similarly inspecting dozens of public toilet stalls at a museum in Seoul.

"It's weird that there are people who want to see something like that ... but this is necessary to help women feel safe," she told AFP.

A member of Seoul city's all-female "hidden camera-hunting" squad, Park is at the forefront of a battle against "molka", or "secret camera" porn.

South Korea takes pride in its tech prowess, from ultra-fast broadband to cutting-edge smartphones. Around 90 percent of its 50 million people possess smartphones -- the highest rate in the world.

But it's a culture that has also given rise to an army of tech-savvy peeping Toms in a still male-dominated country with a poor record on women's rights.

Many use special smartphone apps to film up women's skirts as they ride subway escalators or sit at desks, and spy cameras to gather footage from changing rooms and toilet stalls.

The images are then often shared to numerous molka speciality sites on the Internet.

Such practises have become so rampant that all manufacturers of smartphones sold in South Korea are required to ensure the cameras on their devices make a loud shutter sound when taking photos.

Many of South Korea's tech-savvy peeping Toms use spy cameras to
gather footage from changing rooms and toilet stalls (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)

'Molka' crimes

Molka crimes are daily news, and perpetrators cover a broad social range.

A pastor at a Seoul mega-church with 100,000 members was caught filming up a woman's skirt on an escalator. His smartphone was packed with similar images of other women.

A 31-year-old obstetrician was jailed for secretly filming female patients and nurses in a changing room and sharing some of the images on the Internet.

And the head coach of South Korea's national swimming team resigned last month after two male swimmers were found to have installed a hidden camera in the locker room of their women teammates.

According to police data, the number of molka crimes jumped more than six-fold from about 1,110 in 2010 to more than 6,600 in 2014.

While some offenders use smartphones, others employ spy-style gadgets, including ballpoint pens, glasses or wrist watches equipped with micro lenses, said Hyun Heung-Ho, a detective attached to Seoul police's metro squad.

The squad was established in 1987 to fight subway crime like pickpockets, but now its main focus is on tackling various kinds of sexual harassment, including molka crimes.

"It's tough because the technology they use advances so fast, like special apps to mute camera sound or to show something else on the display while the camera is rolling," Hyun told AFP.

The majority of men nabbed by the squad are in their 20s or 30s -- and include many college-educated, white-collar workers.

"They generally cry and beg to be let off, saying they were 'simply curious'," Hyun said.

High-tech gadgets

Convicted offenders face a fine of up to 10 million won ($9,100) or a maximum jail term of five years.

To help with their crackdown, police have offered cash rewards to those reporting molka crimes and the Seoul city council has hired dozens of women like Park to scour bathrooms and other spaces for hidden cameras.

Office worker Lee Hae-Kyung said she, like many of her friends, tried to avoid toilets in public spaces like subway stations.

"If I urgently need to use a public toilet, I always inspect the doorknob or the flush handle," the 38-year-old told AFP.

"It's scary because many molka are apparently filmed by normal people like office workers ... so who knows? An ordinary-looking guy standing next to you in the subway may be filming up your skirt," she said.

Whenever a man stands behind Lee on an escalator, she slightly turns her body to face him or look him in the eye -- a move detective Hyun says can act as a strong deterrent.

The main focus of Seoul's 'hidden camera-hunting' squad nowdays is on tackling
various kinds of sexual harassment, including 'molka' crimes (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-Je)

Gender inequality

According to Lee Na-Young, a sociology professor at Hanyang University in Seoul, the only real solution is a societal one.

Lee said "upskirt videos" had been avidly consumed in South Korea and Japan for decades.

"Both are deeply conservative nations where open discussion of sex is quite taboo, people feel sexually oppressed and women are relentlessly objectified and discriminated against," she said.

South Korea -- Asia's fourth-largest economy -- has long been ranked bottom for women's rights among OECD member nations.

Average pay for South Korean women is 63.3 percent that of men -- the lowest in the OECD -- and women account for 11 percent of managerial positions and 2.1 percent of corporate boards -- far lower than the OECD average of 31 percent and 19 percent.

In this environment, some men view women as nothing more than sexual objects, Lee said, describing the molka trend as a "wrong marriage between fast-evolving technology and slow-evolving patriarchal culture."

"The molka problem won't be solved unless we deal with this bigger social problem through education at home and at school," she said.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Driving licences on your mobile phone ‘in next few years’

DutchNews, October 3, 2016

Driving licences could be available as a phone app in the next few years under plans proposed by the vehicle licensing service. 

Bas van den Berg, head of the driving licences unit at the RVW agency, said the technology for mobile licences was in development. ‘You’ll download an app from the store and the details of your driving licence will be stored in a secure manner,’ he said. 

The proposal came on the day when paper driving licences officially expired. The Telegraaf reported that around 300,000 old-style licenses had not been handed in, even though drivers risk a €90 fine if they rely on an invalid document. 

Van den Berg explained that the app would exist in two forms: one for the licence holder and one to allow the police to read the details securely. 

He added that security was a paramount issue: ‘There are no 100 per cent guarantees against hacking, but the technology has evolved to the point where people’s details can be stored securely.’

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How did Dutch phone calls end up in the hands of an Australian software firm?

DutchNews, September 30, 2016

Private telephone conversations between thousands of Dutch nationals have ended up in the hands of an Australian software company, the Volkskrant said on Friday. 

The conversations were recorded in 2010 and 2011 and the only explanation, telecom experts told the paper, is that they were recorded by British spy service GCHQ. The information was then probably handed over to the Australian company Appen with the aim of improving software for converting speech into text, the paper said. 

The Volkskrant was contacted by a Dutch national who worked for Appen in Britain in 2011. As part of her job, she was required to describe thousands of audio fragments featuring ordinary Dutch people on the phone. 

Many of the calls were between taxi drivers in The Hague but in one call she heard her ex-boyfriend’s voice. He used Vodafone and had not given permission for the company to share his conversations with anyone. 

The Volkskrant says it has email and other evidence to back up the woman’s claim. 

Appen is a technology company that develops software for converting speech into text. 

Vodafone told the Volkskrant it did not ‘collaborate’ with Appen. Appen said in a statement if it does collect data, it does so with the permission of ‘participants’. The company said it does not collaborate with ‘telecom companies’, but declined to answer the question whether this also applies to law enforcement agencies. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Could e-residency offer a way around Brexit?

Could Estonia's e-residency program offer a way out of Britain's Brexit bind? Kaspar Korjus, director of the country's program thinks that digital nomadism could be the way forward for Britons and British companies.

Deutsche Welle, 25 Sep 2016

Since the referendum result in the UK and the impending Brexit, there’s been a rush of Britons trying to obtain residency within other EU countries so as to remain part of the EU. But the strict criteria often prevents many of them qualifying for an easy route. Now though, the Republic of Estonia might offer a way out of that bind. It has been offering e-residency permits for a couple of years as part of a wider program of e-government. This summer the country saw a jump in the number of Britons applying so they, or their companies, could continue trading as EU entities. DW talked to Kaspar Korjus, Estonia's e-residency program director.

Deutsche Welle: What exactly is e-residency?

Kaspar Korjus: E-residency in the larger context is the new nation state; we are building a whole new digital nation for global citizens. That means that every person on this planet can become an e-resident of this nation. By becoming an e-resident each person gets a digital identity, contained in a smart ID card. Once you get a smart ID card you can log in to the nation state services, you can digitally sign everything and you can be part of this new community.

Estonia has 13,000 e-residents currently
and hopes for 10 million by 2025
Why did Estonia decide to adopt this method? It's not just e-residency, but the whole thing is part of a wider program E-government.

Yes, so E-government has been in Estonia for the last 15 or so years. All Estonians have been voting on line, declaring taxes, getting e-prescriptions, signing all contracts, establishing companies; everything is done using that digital identity. Now we've just opened the borders to everyone else, so that everyone can be part of this.

The reasons are twofold: firstly, it's purely economic, so that Estonia can be bigger. Estonia has a population of just 1.3 million and the internal market compared to Germany for example is so small that we just need more customers outside of Estonia. Secondly, it doesn't add too much cost for us to open these things.

There are billions of people today all around the world who lack access to financial services or lack access to proper business services. For us to open these gates to them, it just doesn't cost us much extra. We already have the legal system, we already have the infrastructure and we already have the services, so we can just offer the same services to them also.

How many e-residents do you have at the moment?

KK: We have over 13,000 e-residents today, and we are still in a beta phase. To become an e-resident each person needs to pay 100 euros and apply online at and then have one face-to-face meeting at the Estonian embassy. This takes approximately two months and then a person could become an e-resident and access all the services.

Did you see the numbers shoot up after the referendum in Britain because of the threat of Brexit?

That's true, a few days after the Brexit referendum we had a ten times increase in applications from the UK. They were mainly from the start-up and entrepreneurship world. Many start-uppers were afraid of what Brexit could bring, whether they'd still be able to work with EU companies, whether they'd still be able to have employees from the EU. E-residency in that sense allows them and helps them to still run EU-based companies whilst living in the UK.

Britons can live in the UK and work
with companies in the EU via Estonian
e-residency and services
Because essentially it gives them EU membership?

It gives them an EU company, an EU bank account and EU regulations. So you don't need to apply to each separate EU country for a set of regulations as you would have the Estonian EU entity. Through that entity, you can sell all your services and regulations apply there. That means that none of the Brexit people need to move from the UK to Europe to deal with EU businesses, because they can stay living in the UK and deal with the EU through their e-residency and business in Estonia.

What do you expect from E-residents? Will there be any kind of tax burden?

E-residents usually pay taxes in the countries where they are living and creating value. E-residency does not mean tax residency. It means that e-residents can just use the platform and the business environment to facilitate their businesses.

So is that how you make sure that this doesn't become a kind of tax haven type scheme or a "letter box" company?

Yes, it is exactly the opposite. This is the opposite of something like Panama where people might have gone to try and hide their taxes and hide their companies; because e-residency is a transparent business. Each shareholder and manager is available as information to the public. We are also sharing the tax revenues with local countries and other governments. As everything is digital and so all the transactions leave digital footprints there is no way to hide, or protect any wealth you might have. That's why e-residents who join are those kinds of people who want to share transparency and show they can be trusted.

What do e-residents receive in return?

If a person is outside of the EU, from an emerging market, the main benefit is access to financial services, access to bank accounts, to online payment providers and access to crowd-funding sites etc. Most of the people today can't offer this kind of online business. The second thing is that through Estonia, people and companies have access to the EU business environment. Estonia makes all that very easy and convenient because it is all done digitally. So establishing a company takes just 10 minutes; you can open bank accounts online, everything can be signed digitally, all the contracts and taxes so it is pretty much cost free. The third reason why people apply is the freedom which an e-residency provides. Even if your country offers all the services and is pretty cost effective, people in today's world travel a lot. Sometimes those people's own countries might still require them to be physically present to sign something or declare something, but now people travel all around the world, digital nomadism is everywhere and e-residency helps run your business without having one fixed place of abode.

The more people and countries connected, the higher the value of the network

Have other countries enquired about whether or not they could offer a similar kind of program?

Yes we are actually helping many other governments to adopt this. We don't see this as a competition but rather a partnership because the more governments which offer this kind of services, the more players will be on the network and then the more value it brings to the network. We know that Lithuania is about to adopt it, we are helping Singapore, Japan and the Netherlands. Once a country starts serving its own citizens digitally as Estonia has been doing for the last 15-17 years then there is really no reason why you can't start serving other citizens too who want to take part in your business environment.

Kaspar Korjus is director of Estonia's e-residency program. If you are interested in applying for e-residency, you can go online to

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Legal eagles recruited to take down drones after successful police trial

DutchNews, September 12, 2016

The Netherlands has become the first country to recruit police eagles to take out drones in mid-flight following a successful trial. 

Police began training the birds of prey in January, despite concerns from some animal welfare experts that the exercise could damage their claws. A spokesman told NRC there had been no injuries so far but protective gear could be introduced.

‘A common or garden drone has no impact on the claws of a bird of prey, but very large drones with powerful motors could cause lacerations,’ he said. ‘We are currently looking at protective measures such as a sort of clawed shoe for the birds’ feet.’ 

‘A lot of drones have perished [during the exercise],’ he added. 

The move is in response to concerns about the growing risk of drones being flown in unauthorised airspace, such as close to an airport, or interfering with other aircraft such as rescue helicopters. 

The birds which were trained in the trial are owned by a private company, but police will now recruit their own flying squad for active service.

‘Police have purchased four month-old American sea eagle chicks. From next summer they will go out hunting drones,’ the spokesman said.

Related Article:

Eagles v drones: Dutch police to take on rogue aircraft with flying squad

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Facebook restores Norwegian PM's 'napalm girl' protest post

Yahoo – AFP, September 10, 2016

Phan Thi Kim Phuc delivers a speech in front of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning photo
depicting her running naked on June 8, 1972 during the Vietnam war, during a
lecture meeting in Nagoya, Japan on April 13, 2013 (AFP Photo/Jiji Press)

Oslo (AFP) - Facebook had restored by Saturday a post by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg which it had taken down over an iconic Vietnam War photo of a naked girl escaping a napalm bombing.

The world's leading social network backtracked Friday on a decision to censor the historic image because it had been flagged for violating standards regarding inappropriate posts.

An active social media user, Solberg defied Facebook early Friday by posting the photograph, helping to bring the weeks-long controversy to a head.

But it was deleted a few hours later by Facebook, in what is believed to be a first such online censorship involving a government leader.

By Saturday morning the post was restored on the Norwegian premier's Facebook page.

The online giant stopped short of apologising, saying: "An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg defied Facebook early Friday by posting
 the photograph of nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc running down a street 
in Vietname in 1972 (AFP Photo/Vegard Wivestad Grøtt)

"In this case, we recognise the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time," it added.

Taken by photographer Nick Ut Cong Huynh for the Associated Press, the 1972 picture of a naked Vietnamese girl running from a napalm attack is considered one of the war's defining images. It was honoured with the Pulitzer Prize.

After Facebook reversed its position on the image, Solberg told the BBC she was a "happy prime minister," saying: "It shows that using social media can make (a) political change even in social media."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Online spending up by a sixth after high street closures

DutchNews, September 9, 2016

V&D department stores closed this year
F Eveleens via Wikimedia Commons
Online spending is up almost a sixth as high streets are emptying, according to new market research.

In the first half of 2016, the market monitor reports, Dutch online spending grew 17% to just over €9.5 billion.  The study, conducted by GfK, showed that more than half was on goods like telephones, electronics and clothes and the rest was on services. 

Gino Thuik, industry lead on fashion and lifestyle at research firm GfK, said spending on clothes and shoes increased sharply. ‘This is largely due to recent bankruptcies of several large retailers on the high street,’ he said in a press release. ‘The online channel profits from this drop in physical stores, and this effect is most clearly reflected in areas such as IT and fashion.’ 

Silver surfers are also spending more, with 58% of over-65s buying something online in the first half of this year – although the study suggests they are still wary of using their smartphones for purchases.

Seaside resort brings in lawyers to end the Pokémon hunt

DutchNews, September 9, 2016

Pokemon hunters in Kijkduin last month. Photo: Arie Kievit via HH

The Hague city council has drafted in lawyers in an effort to reduce the number of Pokémon Go players in the Kijkduin dune area. 

Last month the city crowned Kijkduin ‘Pokémon capital of the Netherlands’ but now officials say the hundreds of players are damaging the fragile nature reserve and causing major problems for residents in the seaside resort. 

The city now hopes that the threat of court action will persuade game maker Niantic Labs to remove all the Pokémon from the reserve.

‘These are protected areas and should remain so,’ spokesman Gérald Rensink told the Volkskrant. ‘The game developer should not encourage people to walk through the area. We have made an urgent request to Niantic Labs to switch off the coordinates which cover the protected space.’ 

Lawyers say another option would be to introduce a ban on large groups gathering in Kijkduin. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Taxman struggles to account for internet earnings

DutchNews, September 6, 2016

King’s Day in Amsterdam: before the
 internet, a rare tax-free moment. Photo: 
The Dutch taxman is struggling to account for people’s earnings in the internet age, reports NOS

Traditionally, certain activities have been seen as hobbies and not subject to significant tax. But a freedom of information (WOB) request from NOS reveals that tax experts are looking at whether they are being tough enough about chasing down revenue from bloggers, vloggers and Airbnb renters, for instance. 

A memo from enforcement and intelligence body the EHI reportedly says: ‘At what level of income is an enthusiast who restores and sells bicycles through Martkplaats pursuing a hobby and at what figure is he an entrepreneur? Should the home cook who opens a pop-up restaurant at home four times a year be seen as a restauranteur? What if this isn’t four times but 24 times?’ 

There is a grey area, says NOS, where people making money on a small scale from Airbnb or renting a car via Snappcar can be seen as amateurs and pay little or no tax on this income – but if you are seen to be running a business, this ‘hobby’ notion disappears and you must pay income tax. 

But the increase in popularity of the sharing economy and online platforms like Airbnb mean the tax authorities do not know if people are declaring all of their business income, as they have an obligation to do. It is relatively costly to investigate as small-time business owners pay little tax anyway. 

The fact that transactions happen online mean the authorities have a better chance of monitoring them, says NOS. Amsterdam city council, for example, is already using digital techniques to ‘scrape’ information from Airbnb to check if people are sticking to renting rules of a maximum of four guests at a time and 60 days a year.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Apple hit with record EU tax bill

Yahoo – AFP, Danny Kemp, August 30, 2016

The European Union has ordered Apple to pay a record 13 billion euros in
back taxes in Ireland (AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU ordered tech giant Apple on Tuesday to pay a record 13 billion euros in back taxes in Ireland, a move Washington warned could damage hugely important transatlantic economic ties.

Brussels said Apple, the world's most valuable company, avoided virtually all tax on its business in the bloc by illegal arrangements with Dublin which gave the company an unfair advantage over competitors.

Apple and the Irish government immediately said they would appeal against the European Commission ruling, with the iPhone maker warning it could cost European jobs.

The White House meanwhile cautioned against "unilateral" measures by the EU.

The company's shares lost some of their shine after the ruling, down 0.7 percent in early afternoon trading, making for a more than 3 percent loss over the past two weeks ahead of the highly anticipated ruling.

"This decision sends a clear message. Member states cannot give unfair tax benefits to selected companies, no matter if European or foreign, large or small," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

"The Commission's investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years," she added.

Ireland has attracted multinationals over many years by offering extremely favourable sweetheart tax deals to generate much-needed jobs and investment.

But after a three-year investigation Brussels said the arrangement with Apple broke EU laws on state aid.

The findings come amid growing tensions between Washington and Brussels over a series of EU anti-trust investigations targeting other giant US companies such as Google, Amazon, McDonald's, Starbucks and Fiat Chrysler.

The European Commission launched an inquiry three years ago into tax breaks
that Ireland offered iPhone-maker Apple (AFP Photo/Siska Gremmelprez)

'Devastating blow'

Apple has had a base in the southern city of Cork since 1980 and employs nearly 6,000 people in Ireland, through which it routes its international sales totalling billions.

Apple chief Tim Cook said he was "confident" the EU ruling would be overturned, adding that the Silicon Valley giant was the biggest taxpayer in Ireland, the United States and the world.

"The most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe," he said.

Cook also warned that the ruling was a "devastating blow to the sovereignty of EU member states over their own tax matters", echoing the concerns of Dublin over the decision.

Ireland's Finance Minister Michael Noonan described the ruling as "bizarre" and "an exercise in politics by the Competition Commission".

Dublin, which suffered from harsh austerity measures after it was bailed out during the eurozone debt crisis, has vigorously defended its low tax rates as a way of boosting the economy.

"If you look at the small print on an Apple iPhone, it says designed in California and manufactured in China and that means any profits that accrued didn't accrue in Ireland and so I can't see why the tax liability is in Ireland," he said.

But Vestager said Apple's Irish operation was a sham -- Apple's "so-called head office in Ireland only existed on paper. It had no employees, no premises and no real activities."

Apple paid an effective corporate tax rate of just 0.005 per cent on its European profits in 2014 -- equivalent to just 50 euros for every million, Vestager said.

The Apple tax bill dwarfs the previous EU record for a state aid case -- 1.3 billion euros for the Nurburgring race track in Germany.

While the 13-billion-euro ($14.5-billion) sum itself is unlikely to trouble Apple with its massive $600 billion of market capitalisation and $234 billion in revenue last year, the political ramifications are huge.

US anger

Washington has made increasingly angry comments over the case in recent weeks, and on Tuesday it echoed Apple's warnings that the tax bill could hurt the European economy.

"We are concerned about a unilateral approach," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, adding that the move "threatens to undermine progress that we have made collaboratively with the Europeans to make the international taxation system fair."

The US Treasury said the ruling "could threaten to undermine foreign investment, the business climate in Europe, and the important spirit of economic partnership between the US and the EU."

The Apple decision may also complicate struggling EU-US talks on what would be the world's biggest free trade deal, meant to be completed before US President Barack Obama steps down in January.

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday said he doubted agreement could be reached by then.

Tax avoidance has moved sharply up the political agenda since EU governments adopted tough austerity policies to balance the public finances, driving public resentment that the rich paid relatively little tax.

The issue was highlighted close to home by the LuxLeaks scandal which revealed that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's native Luxembourg gave companies huge tax breaks while he was prime minister.

In October Brussels ordered US coffee giant Starbucks and Italian automaker Fiat to each repay up to 30 million euros ($34 million) in back taxes to the Netherlands and Luxembourg respectively.