Facebook slapped with £95 million fine by EU Regulators


The social network was found to have given misleading information by incorrectly saying it could not match up user accounts on the two platforms, according to regulators.

According to the Commission, in 2014 Facebook said it could not automatically match user accounts on the two platforms – but two years later launched a service doing exactly that.

Keurboom cold-calling firm fined record £400,000 over nuisance calls

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 11 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

More than 1,000 people complained to ICO over automated calls about road accident claims and PPI compensation

A company that made almost 100m nuisance calls in 18 months has been fined a record £400,000 by the data watchdog.

The information commissioner’s office said the automated calls by Keurboom Communications had caused “upset and distress” and led to more than 1,000 complaints.

Keurboom, registered in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, has been placed in voluntary liquidation and the ICO intends to recover the fine through liquidators and insolvency practitioners.

The ICO was unable to fine the company’s director, Gregory Rudd, but the government is set to introduce a law allowing the watchdog to fine the bosses of nuisance call firms.

The calls from Keurboom related to schemes including road traffic accident claims and PPI compensation. Some people received repeat calls, sometimes on the same day, and calls during unsociable hours. The company hid its identity, making it harder for people to complain.

Companies can make automated marketing calls to people only if they have their specific consent. Keurboom did not have consent.

Steve Eckerlsey, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “Keurboom showed scant regard for the rules, causing upset and distress to people unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of one its 100 million calls.

“The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom’s failure to cooperate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the information commissioner for nuisance calls.”

He added: “These calls have now stopped – as has Keurboom – but our work has not. We’ll continue to track down companies that blight people’s lives with nuisance calls, texts and emails.”

During the investigation, the ICO issued seven information notices ordering the company to provide information. When it failed to comply, Keurboom and Rudd were prosecuted and fined £1,500 and £1,000 respectively at Luton magistrates court in April 2016.

In 2016/17 the ICO fined 23 companies a total of £1.9m for nuisance marketing.

The previous record nuisance call fine was in February 2016 when the ICO fined Prodial, a lead generation company, £350,000 for making 46m nuisance calls.

In September 2016 the ICO fined TalkTalk £400,000 under the Data Protection Act for failing to prevent an attack on its systems.
By Jamie Grierson

Facebook deletes thousands of UK accounts to tackle fake news

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 8 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Facebook has deleted thousands of UK accounts and overhauled its news feed in an attempt to battle fake news, following vocal criticism of the internet giant’s role in the phenomenon.

The social network has been under pressure to address “false news” in recent months, following concerns about its impact on elections in the US and Europe and fears that it could undermine advertisers’ confidence in Facebook.

On Monday, Facebook will announce a new drive to tackle fake news in the UK, just a month before Brits go to the polls. It says it has introduced technology to better identify accounts that spread spam or fake news, such as detecting patterns of those that repeatedly post the same things, and deleted “tens of thousands” in response.

It will also demote suspicious articles on its website and apps so that users see them less often in the Facebook news feed. The company has been testing technology that identifies if people read an article but do not share it with their friends, suggesting it may be misleading. From Monday, it will apply the change in the UK, and run a series of adverts in newspapers with tips on how to spot “false news”.

Facebook reported a 76pc increase in profits last week, with soaring advertising revenue suggesting the fake news scandal had not dented enthusiasm. But politicians have raised the prospect of regulating or fining the company if it fails to deal with the problem.

Germany has threatened to fine social media sites up to €50m (£42m) for spreading fake news, and an inquiry had been launched into the phenomenon by the Culture, Media and Sports committee before the election was called.

“People want to see accurate information on Facebook and so do we,” the company’s UK policy director Simon Milner said. “That is why we are doing everything we can to tackle the problem of false news.”

The company has also announced partnerships with Full Fact and First Draft, non-profit fact-checking organisations, to tackle fake news in the run-up to the election.

Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg originally attempted to play down the fake news problem, saying that it made up just a fraction of what appeared on the site. But in recent months it has introduced a series of initiatives, including restricting advertising on fake news websites, giving users tips about spotting fake news, and putting alerts on disputed stories.

Fears around fake news peaked around the US election, with claims that far-right internet groups had spread lies about Hillary Clinton to influence the vote. This has led to concerns that June’s election, as well as votes in France and Germany, could be affected.

By James Titcomb

Discover The Next Level in Luxury Train Travel



A new luxury sleeper train is charging $10,000 for a top class suite for a 4-day train trip. The Shiki Shima train offers a gold coloured train for the journey from Tokyo to Hokkaido. Those aboard can enjoy fine dining and live music. Demand for high-quality train service is growing in Japan as railway companies compete for customers. All seats on the Shiki Shima are booked until March 2018. The first 33 passengers will be treated to several hot spring resort stops.

M&S Possible Surrender to Online Food Delivery With Ocado Partnership

Simon D/Fickr.com

Marks & Spencer could do a deal with Ocado for online food delivery, according to reports.

Marks & Spencer announced last week that it is planning to launch an online grocery service this autumn. The Telegraph reported on Sunday that the department store and food retailer is considering partnering with online grocer Ocado to handle the fulfilment of the orders.

The tie-up makes sense (I flagged it as a possibility when M&S first announced its plans).

M&S has a strong own-brand food business but has never done online groceries before and has struggled with online delivery in the past. Ocado, meanwhile, is a pioneer of online groceries in the UK and has the logistical know-how to pull it off. It has done similar deals with Morrisons and Waitrose in the past.

Credit Suisse said in a note published on Tuesday that it believes the most likely deal would see M&S products stocked on Ocado's website, rather than have Ocado provide the white label plumbing for a new M&S Food website.

“M&S's range is too narrow and its basket size too small to offer a credible standalone online grocery service,” said analyst Stewart McGuire in a note.

However, Bernstein believes that an “in-store picking” model is more likely. Rather than having all of M&S' food stock stored in Ocado's central warehouse to be distributed as part of bigger orders, an “in-store picking” model allows M&S to pick products for home delivery from its own stores, using Ocado's technology.

Bernstein's Bruno Monteyne said in a note on Tuesday: “Typically M&S has customers shop smaller baskets, serving customers in the ‘something-for-tonight' or ‘top-up' shopping missions rather than the ‘main shop.'

“The economics of central fulfilment are hugely in favour of bigger baskets. Hence, it's more likely that a solution would be in store pick for M&S.”

Amazon & Waitrose could stand in the way
Credit Suisse flagged two major obstacles for any deal being done between the two: Amazon and Waitrose.

On the Amazon front, Credit Suisse said that the online retail Goliath could be tempted to make an attractive offer to get M&S' high-end food onto its platform.

“The potential to access a loyal and lucrative segment of the market may provide enough of a draw to offer lucrative terms to M&S,” said McGuire. But he adds that the fact M&S has already pulled its clothing from Amazon makes a deal less likely.

McGuire also warned that Ocado's contract with Waitrose could make a deal with M&S difficult. Under the terms of the deal, 70% of all non-own brand products sold on Ocado have to come from Waitrose. If you count M&S as a brand, this would make a deal impossible as Waitrose can't and won't stock its competitor's products.

McGuire said: “It is unclear whether M&S product would be considered ‘branded', thereby preventing their listing, but the ability to renegotiate the contract is always available.”

What does it mean for both companies?
If a deal does go through, what would it mean for M&S and Ocado's businesses?

Credit Suisse said that for M&S “it might be better for sentiment than its financials as we would assume 25-50% of online sales would be cannibalised from stores, and the split with Ocado would reduce margins below 33% retail gross margin.”

Meanwhile, Bernstein forecasted that Ocado could make £2-4 million in profit over the medium term from a deal with M&S. However, Monteyne added: “This could be significantly lower if there was a competitive bid process with other players vying to provide an in-store pick solution for M&S.”

By Oscar Williams-Grut




Social Media Companies Shoud Pay Fines Over Extremist and Hate Crime Content:MPs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 01 May, 2017) London, Uk – –

Social media firms are “shamefully far” from tackling illegal and dangerous content, says a parliamentary report.
Hate speech, terror recruitment videos and sexual images of children all took too long to be removed, said the Home Affairs Select Committee report.
The government should consider making the sites help pay to police content, it said.
But a former Facebook executive told the BBC the report “bashes companies” but offers few real solutions.
The cross-party committee took evidence from Facebook, Twitter and Google, the parent company of YouTube, for its report.
It said they had made efforts to tackle abuse and extremism on their platforms, but “nowhere near enough is being done”.
The committee said it had found “repeated examples of social media companies failing to remove illegal content when asked to do so”.
It said the largest firms were “big enough, rich enough and clever enough” to sort the problem out, and that it was “shameful” that they had failed to use the same ingenuity to protect public safety as they had to protect their own income.
“White Genocide” and “Ban Islam”
Among the examples the committee found were:
Twitter refused to remove a cartoon depicting male ethnic minority migrants abusing a semi-naked white woman while stabbing her baby to death on the grounds it was not in breach of its “hateful conduct policy”
YouTube refused to remove a video entitled “Jews admit organizing White Genocide” on the basis it “did not cross the line into hate speech”
On Facebook there were openly anti-Semitic and Islamophobic community pages such as “Ban Islam”. Facebook removed some posts but not the community pages themselves because its policy allows criticism of religion, but not hate against people because of their religion
The MPs said it was “unacceptable” that social media companies relied on users to report content, saying they were “outsourcing” the role “at zero expense”.
Yet the companies expected the police – funded by the taxpayer – to bear the costs of keeping them clean of extremism.
The report's recommendations include:
The government should consult on requiring social media firms to contribute to the cost of the police's counter-terrorism internet referral unit
It should also consult on “meaningful fines” for companies which failed to remove illegal content within a strict timeframe, highlighting proposals in Germany which could see firms fined up to £44m and individual executives £5m
Social media companies review urgently their community standards and how they are being interpreted and implemented
“Social media companies' failure to deal with illegal and dangerous material online is a disgrace,” said committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper.
Ms Cooper said the committee's inquiry into hate crime more broadly was curtailed when the general election was called and their recommendations had to be limited to dealing with social media companies and online hate.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she expected to see social media companies take “early and effective action” and promised to study the committee's recommendations.
In a statement Simon Milner, Facebook's policy director, said: “We agree with the Committee that there is more we can do to disrupt people wanting to spread hate and extremism online.”
He said the social network was working with King's College, London and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to make its efforts to curb hate speech more effective.
Mr Milner added that Facebook had developed “quick and easy ways” for people to report content so it could be reviewed and, if necessary, removed.
Twitter and Google have not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.
The firms had previously told the committee that they worked hard to make sure freedom of expression was protected within the law.
Football parallels
A former European policy manager for Facebook, Luc Delany, told BBC Radio Four's Today programme the report had failed to look at more than a decade of work the industry had done with police and successive governments on the problem.
He said: “It bashes companies and gets a few big headlines for the committee but the solutions proposed don't really play out in reality.”
However, committee member and Labour MP Naz Shah disagreed: “It's not headline-grabbing when people are making money off terrorist content, headline grabbing when we've got child abuse online.
“Not working fast enough is not acceptable to the committee, to myself or anybody quite frankly.”
Ms Shah suggested that internet companies giving money to the Met's counter-terrorism unit would be similar to football clubs contributing to the cost of policing matches.
But Mr Delany rejected this, adding a football stadium was a “fixed place” with “one obvious and historic type of behaviour” whereas social media companies had hundreds of millions of users and hours of content.
The child protection charity NSPCC has also called for fines for social networks that fail to protect children.
Internet companies' voluntary regulations on child protection are “not up to scratch”, the charity's chief executive, Peter Wanless, said last week.


NHS Funding Woes Could See Big Drug Companies Abandon The UK


The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has warned that the world's biggest drug companies could abandon the UK unless the NHS receives substantially more funding.

The association represents firms including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, as well as the UK operations of international giants like Pfizer and Novartis. It says health spending should rise from the current 9.9% of GDP to the G7 average of 11.3%. That would amount to an extra £20.8bn.

Lisa Anson, the UK boss of AstraZeneca, and new President of the ABPI tells Ian King Live why the body is making the call in its election manifesto.