Microsoft Seeks EU Approval for $26 Billion LinkedIn Acquisition

Microsoft Seeks EU Approval for $26 Billion LinkedIn AcquisitionMicrosoft sought EU antitrust approval on Friday for its $26 billion bid for social network LinkedIn, a spokesman said on Friday, kicking off a month-long review by regulators of its largest deal.

“We filed today,” company spokesman Robin Koch said.

He said the European Commission has set a November 22 deadline to examine the case. The EUcompetition authority can either clear the deal with or without concessions or it can open a lengthy investigation if it has serious concerns.

(Also see:  Microsoft Dives Into Social With LinkedIn Deal)

US software company Salesforce has criticised the takeover, saying it threatens innovation and competition.

Microsoft is expected to say that there is more than enough competition from Facebook and social networks on smartphones.Antitrust regulators in the United States, Canada and Brazil have already cleared the deal.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Microsoft, EU, LinkedIn, Microsoft LinkedIn Deal
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EU Lawmaker Says Tinder Breaches Data Protection Rules

EU Lawmaker Says Tinder Breaches Data Protection Rules

An EU lawmaker says dating app Tinder breaches the bloc’s data protection rules because it uses personal data without explicit consent and should be investigated by the European Commission.

The dating app, owned by website operator Match Group Inc, imposes unlawful conditions on users, pushing them to consent to unclear clauses that allow the company to use their data even after they close their accounts, socialist lawmaker Marc Tarabella said in a statement.

“Once you subscribe, the company can do whatever it wants with your data. It can show them, distribute them to whomever or even modify them. The lack of transparency cannot be the rule,” Tarabella said.

The Belgian politician , who in 2014 was among the leading European parliament members calling for a break-up of Google’s search engine from its commercial services, also accused dating app Happn and jogging app Runkeeper of violating EU data protection rules.

He called for a European investigation into these companies and urged the European Commission to adopt heavy sanctions against companies that impose “abusive clauses” for the use of their apps.

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Tinder representatives were not immediately available for comment.

A Commission spokeswoman said it was up to national authorities to enforce EU rules on data and consumer protection. However, the Commission has conducted such investigations in the past.

“The problem is always the lack of transparency and the notion of consent,” Tarabella said, adding that companies often sell users’ data to third parties without consumers being aware or having explicitly consented to it.

EU rules protect consumers who no longer want their data to be used. Companies are also required to provide “easy-to-understand information” and to obtain an explicit consent from users to process personal data.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Apps, Dating Apps, EU, European Union, Online Dating, Tinder

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EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years: Reports

EU Privacy Watchdogs Could Seek US Data Pack Review in 2 Years: Reports

European privacy watchdogs could ask for a review in two years of a new transatlantic data pact designed to help companies such as Microsoft and IBM to shuffle around user data, according to three people familiar with the matter.

European data protection authorities are assessing whether to endorse the EU-US Privacy Shield, a framework agreed in February that will allow companies to move Europeans’ data to the United States without falling foul of strict EU data transferral rules.

But the regulators have concerns about how much data US government agents can collect and access as well as the independence of a new US “ombudsperson” to handle EU complaints about US surveillance practices, the people said.

“Who is independent enough? Independence is a key criteria to addressing the real position of this person,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, chair of the group of 28 EU data protection authorities, said last week in Washington when asked about the ombudsperson.

The regulators also have doubts about US assurances that Europeans’ data transferred to the United States will not be subject to indiscriminate mass surveillance, two of the people said.

The EU regulators might ask for the framework to be reviewed when a stricter EU data protection law comes into force in 2018 to see if it still meets EU privacy standards, the people said.

That would be separate from the annual review already foreseen in the agreement with Washington.

Falque-Pierrotin had hinted at the idea at a hearing in the European Parliament in March.

The regulators’ opinion will be published on Wednesday at the end of a two-day meeting. While non-binding, it is important because the regulators enforce EU data protection law and can suspend specific data transfers.

In addition, the opinion will be watched closely by EU member state representatives who have to give their approval for the Privacy Shield to be formally adopted.

Commercial data transfers to the United States have been conducted in a legal limbo since October last year when the top EU court struck down Safe Harbour, a framework that for 15 years allowed over 4,000 companies to avoid cumbersome EU data transfer rules by stating that they complied with EU data protection law.

Revelations almost three years ago by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of mass US Internet surveillance programmes sparked outrage in Europe.

While privacy and consumer groups have urged the regulators not to lend their support to the Privacy Shield, arguing that it does not solve fundamental flaws with US enforcement of privacy, businesses have appealed for it to be swiftly approved.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Data transfer, Facebook, IBM, Internet, Microsoft, Privacy Shield, Social
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EU Commission Wants Google to Pay a Licensing Fee

EU Commission Wants Google to Pay a Licensing Fee

The European Commission is currently holding a public consultation on granting “neighbouring rights” to publishers. Under this, the lawmaker is proposing that Google should pay publishers a licensing fee.

The European Commission is proposing that Google and other news aggregators that run a snippet from the article of others’ articles should have to pay for the excerpt. EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger said that he is “open” to the idea of imposing a tax on snippets. The lawmaker wants to implement this regulation across Europe.

The consultation paper also seeks views on whether people a “panorama” exception should be introduced to copyright, which would allow people to take and distribute pictures without the permission of the architect.

Charging Google for running snippets might not work so well for European publishers. Google is likely to close down its Google News service from Europe rather than paying any tax, as we have already seen in Spain. Furthermore, with Google out of the picture, the online publishers could lose a significant amount of their traffic. . Germany also introduced such a tax system but ended up giving Google a free licence to their material, citing Google’s dominant market position. Many publishers in Europe realise this, and they are against the idea. “As publishers, we know such proposals make it harder for us to be heard, to reach new readers and new audiences. They create new barriers between us and our readers, new barriers to entry for news publishers such as ourselves,” a consortium of European publishers said in an open letter last year.

Anyone – including people from outside of EU, who wants to express their view on this matter – can respond to the questionnaire. The closing date for the response is June 15, 2016.

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Tags: European Commission, Google, Google News, Internet
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Apple, Google to Face EU Lawmakers Over Tax Deals

Apple, Google to Face EU Lawmakers Over Tax Deals

Apple, Google, McDonald’s and IKEA will be asked about their European tax deals on Wednesday as EU lawmakers ratchet up the pressure on multinationals to pay more tax on their profits locally.

The hearing, organised by the European Parliament’s tax committee, follows a similar event in November last year when Anheuser-Busch InBev, HSBC, Google and eight other companies were quizzed on the same subject.

While the committee has no power to order changes, the hearing reflects the political concerns over multinationals avoiding local tax liabilities.

The European Commission is also investigating several cases to see if they breach the bloc’s state aid rules which prohibit EU countries from giving some companies an unfair advantage by making special deals on tax.

Starbucks declined to take part because it has challenged a European Commission order to the Dutch authorities to recover up to EUR 30 million in back taxes, the European Parliament said in a statement.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is also appealing against an EU finding against its tax deal with Luxembourg, also turned down the invitation.

The head of Inter IKEA Group, Soren Hansen, will argue the Swedish furniture retailer’s case. Inter IKEA Group owns the intellectual property rights under which its retailers operate.

The Parliament’s Green party last month accused IKEA of avoided paying some EUR 1 billion in taxes from 2009 to 2014 because it channelled royalty income through a Dutch company and possibly through Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

All the companies have previously said they comply with EU tax rules.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

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Tags: Android, Apple, Apps, Google, Internet, Laptops, Mobiles, PC, Tablets
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