This Week in Compliance

This Week in Compliance: Google Hit With GDPR Fine & FTC Considers Facebook Fine

Business

  • Google slapped with first significant GDPR fine: France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) issued a EUR 50 million fine to Google for violating key provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force last year. After receiving two complaints from privacy watchdog groups, CNIL determined that Google does not obtain users’ consent for serving them personalized ads on a valid legal basis. The agency determined that the information Google provides users does not properly inform them of the extent and the purposes for which their personal data is being processed. The fine is seen as the opening shot to serious enforcement of the regulation. Google indicated late on Thursday that it will appeal the fine. For a more in-depth analysis, please read our blog post discussing the fine.
  • FTC said to be considering hitting Facebook with record-setting fine for user privacy violations: Sources familiar with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation into the social media giant reported last week that the commission is considering imposing a record-breaking fine on Facebook for violating a legally binding agreement it struck previously with the U.S. government in which it promised to protect the privacy of its users’ personal data. The FTC started investigating Facebook last year after it emerged that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed the personal information of roughly 87 million users. The company agreed to get user consent for certain changes in privacy settings as part of a 2011 settlement with the FTC after the agency found Facebook had deceived customers and forced them to share more information with third-party apps than they intended. The proposed fine would stem from a breach of that settlement. As the U.S. federal government remains shut down, it is unclear when a final decision on a fine might be made public.
  • Former Tesco executive cleared of fraud charges: Carl Rogberg, the last of three Tesco executives accused by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of masterminding a large-scale fraud, was acquitted in London this Wednesday. The acquittal means that the SFO has failed to convict a single person after the company overstated its profits for the first half of 2014 by GBP 250 million. The cases against two other former directors, Chris Bush and John Scouler, were thrown out in late December after judge Sir John Royce said the SFO’s case was “so weak it should not be considered by a jury”. The SFO did not offer any evidence in the trial this week since the agency determined it would not be fair to trial Rogberg on his own following the collapse of the other case in late December. However, the DPA the SFO struck with Tesco over the same conduct still names the three acquitted directors and alleges they were “aware and dishonestly perpetuated the misstatement”.
  • Drone maker DJI discovers in excess of USD 147 million in staff corruption: Leaked internal documents from drone maker DJI show that the company’s internal investigation found that procurement officials had received kickbacks for accepting components which failed to pass quality tests or for paying above-market prices. The investigation found that its component purchasing costs were inflated by over 20 percent due to these practices. Out of 45 employees alleged to be involved in such practices, 29 have been fired. Sixteen cases may be forwarded to government prosecutors. The findings at DJI highlight China’s persistent problem with supply-chain corruption; multiple Chinese businesses have revealed troubles in recent months.
  • Ghosn resigns as Renault CEO following corruption probe: It was announced this week that Carlos Ghosn will step aside as chairman and CEO of French carmaker Renault after two decades at the helm of the company. Ghosn has been in custody in a Tokyo prison after Japanese police detained him shortly after landing back at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on November 19th of last year. Ghosn stands accused of understating his income by tens of millions of dollars and additionally transferring tens of millions of personal trading losses to the company. Ghosn has continuously denied wrongdoing.

Government

  • OECD to review Ireland’s anti-corruption lawsIreland passed The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences Act) last summer; a move hailed as a complete overhaul of anti-corruption law in the country last year. However, the police and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs have raised questions about their ability to pursue bribery offences by state officials and businesses in foreign countries. The law has a so-called “dual criminality” requirement, meaning that the offence needs to be criminalized in the country where it occurred, rather than only in Ireland. The OECD has now announced that its working group on bribery will start a formal review of the new law in the first half of the year, as a matter of course.
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