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'Look, isn't there some way we can get Julian out of here?'

Plus: 'we respectfully request confidential treatment' DENIED!

Website security in corporate America

Quotw The HP v Autonomy spat rumbled on this week, as Hewlett-Packard continued to maintain that Autonomy had "inflated its value", leading HP to slurp it up for an unwise amount of money.

HP has said that it had to write down $8.8bn on the acquisition and alleges that Autonomy shuffled the figures to make itself look good.

Former Autonomy boss Mike Lynch has reacted with a number of statements that can be more or less summed up as "I'm outraged. Outraged, I tell you!" and "HP is blaming Autonomy for its own f***ups!".

In the latest of these, Lynch wrote an open letter to the board demanding the specifics of the allegations against him and his former Autonomy execs:

HP should provide me with the interim report and any other documents which you say you have provided to the SEC and the SFO so that I can answer whatever is alleged, instead of the selective disclosure of non-material information via background discussions with the media.

But HP is refusing to treat with Lynch and is doing that thing in a fight where when the one person is being wildly infuriated and impassioned, and the other behaves in a cold, logical and methodical manner in a way that implies that the first person is being unreasonable. The company said:

While Dr Lynch is eager for a debate, we believe the legal process is the correct method in which to bring out the facts and take action on behalf of our shareholders.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is gearing up to get its new Wii U console out and everyone else is wondering if it can repeat the success of the original Wii with another new idea: remote controls with their own screens.

But Atari founder and so-called godfather of videogames Nolan Bushnell doesn't think it's all that possible. He said:

I actually am baffled by it. I don't think it's going to be a big success.

These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again.

And in shock Julian Assange news, the Ecuadoreans are claiming that he needs "sunlight and fresh air". Assange, who has been hiding out in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since he took refuge there rather than be extradited to Sweden to answer Swedish cops questions about rape allegations, is apparently unwell. Assange has always denied the allegations.

Living in the "confined space" of the embassy has given him a chronic lung infection, the ambassador said. Ana Alban described the terrible conditions of being inside a building in London. She said:

Not only does the embassy have few windows but the city is also dark at this time - we have very little daylight in London.

Some of the Reg readers were willing to give Assange the benefit of the doubt. tkioz said:

Well to be fair to the little twerp... the human body does need sunlight, even convicted murderers get yard time.

Others wondered if it was a cry for help from the ambassador. Simon Harris conjectured:

I wonder if it's really embassy code for... 'He eats all our food, he drinks all our wine, he's always having friends round for tea ... isn't there some way we can get him out of here?'

And still others thought his stint in the embassy might be rather defeating the purpose. Anon pointed out:

He's lucky right now. Otherwise, going to Sweden he could face the prospect of being locked up in a room for 23 hours a day without access to fresh air or natural light... Oh, hang on a minute. So, he's basically "doing time" already, out of his own choice.

Also in Blighty, Amazon tried to keep its tax-dodging ways out of the public domain this week, but the British government wasn't having any of it. Despite the etailer's pleas that its sales and profits for the amazon.co.uk website should be kept "confidential" and "not publicly known", MPs at the Public Accounts Committee went ahead and published them anyway.

The internet firm first said in the sales release:

Although we have not publicly disclosed net sales generated from specific websites targeting EU countries or elsewhere, in response to the Committee’s request, we would like to share with you on a confidential basis net sales generated from the amazon.co.uk website over the past three years.

Last year's sales were listed as £2.9bn, but in that document Amazon didn't say anything about its profits, making it difficult to figure out what kind of money it was actually taking home.

The MPs must have been wondering the same thing, because shortly after Amazon released its actual profits. The firm said:

The following sales amounts are not publicly available at this level of detail, are unaudited, and are being provided solely for the purpose of responding to the Committee’s questions. In our public company filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, we disclose sales, operating expenses, operating income and information for our two business segments, "North America" and "International." The financial information included in this letter is derived from those data except for intercompany expenses.

Given the non-public nature of this information, we respectfully request confidential treatment.

That document added in LoveFilm sales to rack up turnover of £3.35bn but a measly £74m in profit. Even out of that relatively small amount, just £1.8m was paid in tax that year, because the only profits that stayed in the country were from the fulfillment warehouses. It remains to be seen if the government will do anything about it.

Speaking of the British government, an advert on the DirectGov job site caused a bit of a stir. Her Majesty's government was apparently seeking a "target elimination specialist". The ad read:

From time to time, the UK government has a need to remove people whose continued existence poses a risk to the effective conduct of public order. So we require particularly skilled professionals who are prepared to work on a non-attributable basis.

The ideal candidate will need to have no particular distinguishing features so as to blend in and be able to take on new identities as required. They will need to be resourceful in finding ways to accomplish their missions and, in some cases, to leave foreign countries by non-conventional means. The role would suit candidates with prior military experience, particularly in the use of sniper rifles.

All good so far, and a thousand John le Carre-reading, James Bond-watching wannabe spies thought that this was their moment. But even the most optimistic of candidates would have to accept the thing was a hoax when they read this:

The job holder will receive all necessary equipment, including passports, special watches, jet packs, mini-submarines and a Walther PPK. This role is particularly appropriate for those who like their martinis shaken and not stirred. To apply for this role, please express your interest somewhere in the vicinity of the large and rather fake-looking rock in Regent's Park.

MI6 said it knew nothing about it, making you wonder how the ad got onto DirectGov in the first place. Private sector employers are able to post their vacancies on the site, but perhaps this is in fact a classic case of hiding in plain sight? ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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