Google on Monday agreed to settle a landmark privacy case with 40 US states over accusations that the search engine giant misled users into believing location tracking had been switched off on their devices.
A statement said it was the largest multi-state privacy settlement by state authorities in US history and included a binding commitment for improved disclosures by Google.
“Digital platforms like Google cannot claim to provide privacy controls to users then turn around and disregard those controls to collect and sell data to advertisers against users’ express wishes — and at great profit,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin in the statement.
The rare joint lawsuit by 40 states grew from impatience over the failure of federal authorities to crack down on big tech amid legislative gridlock in Washington.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree on what national rules on online privacy should look like, with furious lobbying by tech companies to limit their potential impact.
Since 2018, the US tech giants have faced strict rules in Europe, with Google, Amazon and others subjected to hefty fines over privacy violations.
The US case began after an article in 2018 from the Associated Press reported that Google tracked users even when they had opted out of the practice.
Other states involved included Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Specifically at fault in their case was evidence that users continued to be tracked when they disabled the location history option on their phones as tracking continued through a separate Web & App Activity setting.
In a statement, Google said that the allegations were based on product features that were no longer up to date.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” the company said.
Under the settlement, Google will provide more detailed information on tracking activity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday apologised to MPs after he became the first British leader fined for breaking the law, but faced opposition calls to quit for the sake of integrity in politics.
Addressing parliament for the first time since the April 12 fine, he reiterated that he did not think he had done anything wrong when he attended an office gathering for his birthday in June 2020, when Britain was under a pandemic lockdown.
“That was my mistake and I apologise for it unreservedly,” he said.
The British public “had a right to expect better of their prime minister”, Johnson added, while insisting he would get on with the job including defending Ukraine against Russia’s “barbaric” invasion.
The conflation of issues led to charges that Johnson was seeking to bury the controversy over “partygate” fines — which have also embroiled his finance minister and wife.
Johnson could yet receive further fines over various Downing Street parties held despite strict coronavirus lockdowns imposed by his own government over the past two years.
MPs will hold a special debate on Thursday into whether he misled the House of Commons when, in December, he denied ever breaking the rules. He will be on an official visit to India by then.
Knowingly misleading parliament is a breach of government ministers’ code of conduct, which states they should resign as a result — and opposition lawmakers are adamant he should go.
But asked directly if he deliberately misled parliament, Johnson emphatically replied: “No.”
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said there was cross-party support towards Britain’s backing for Ukraine, and any Conservative successor would continue Johnson’s war policy.
Starmer recounted the experience of one member of the public who, because of the Covid rules then in place, was denied the chance to hold his dying wife’s hand in the hospital.
Johnson was “a man without shame” backed by “nodding dogs” in his cabinet, Starmer said, urging Conservative MPs to eject their leader.
They should “bring decency, honesty and integrity back into our politics and stop the denigration of this country”, the Labour leader said.
One national survey suggested around two-thirds of the public spoke negatively about Johnson, compared to just 16 per cent positively, with the word “liar” the most commonly shared response.
“Overall, ‘partygate’ dominates views of Boris over Ukraine,” said James Johnson, a Conservative pollster who conducted the sample.
“Fury has not receded. Many negative comments are by people who liked him previously but have now changed their minds.”
Voters will get their chance to deliver a verdict on May 5, when the UK holds nationwide elections for local and city councils.
A drubbing for the Conservatives then could sharpen the debate among his own MPs, some of whom have said that now is not the time to change leader given the war in Ukraine.
Simon Wolfson, a justice minister, has already resigned from the government, citing “the scale, context and nature” of the rule breaches.
Johnson will bid to shore up his standing with backbenchers when he addresses a meeting of the Conservative parliamentary party on Tuesday evening.
But one senior Tory backbencher, Mark Harper, responded to Johnson in the Commons that he was “no longer… worthy” of being prime minister after his apology.
London’s Metropolitan Police is investigating dozens of alleged lockdown breaches by Johnson and his staff in the Downing Street complex where he lives and works.
It said last week officers had so far issued more than 50 fines.
The scandal, the latest in a stream of controversies to hit Johnson since last year, left his position hanging by a thread and MPs from his Conservative Party in a rebellious mood.
But he boosted his survival chances with what is seen as a firm response to Ukraine, which diverted attention away from the furore when he was most vulnerable in February.
Britain’s cost-of-living crisis is also credited with distracting people from the scandal, while Johnson has made several big policy announcements aimed at his pro-Brexit political base.
They include controversial plans to send migrants and asylum seekers who cross the Channel thousands of miles away to Rwanda.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has described the N5m fine on Lagos-based radio station, Nigeria Info 99.3 FM by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as illegal.
The Human Rights Lawyer said this in a statement he personally signed and wondered why the NBC will be in a hurry to penalise the radio station
While noting that the State Security Service (SSS) has not concluded an investigation into the radio station’s guest, Dr Mailafia Obadiah, Falana asked why the Commission was in a hurry to violate the broadcast firm’s fundamental right.
According to him, it is only a competent court of law that has the right to impose fines on a criminal suspect after conducting a trial.
“Only a competent court of law is empowered to try, convict and impose a fine on a criminal suspect after a trial has been conducted before a competent court.
“In view of the fact that the imposition of the N5 million fine was anchored on a purported amendment of the Code and since the NBC lacks the legal competence to impose a fine on any broadcasting station without a finding of guilt by a properly constituted criminal court the NBC should suo mutu quash the illegal fine,” Falana said.
The senior lawyer added that: “Section 33 (4) of the Constitution provides that anyone charged with a criminal offence shall be tried before a competent court or tribunal.”
He noted that in the case between the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited at the Federal High Court, Honourable Justice Ojukwu held that the imposition of fines by regulatory agencies was unlawful.
The NBC had said the fine was imposed on the media outfit due to its unprofessional broadcast.
It explained that Nigeria Info was not professional in the handling of its morning show aired between 8.30 am and 9.00 am on Monday.
NBC stated that the station provided its platform for its guest and a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr Mailafia Obadiah, to promote “unverifiable and inciting views,” saying such could lead to public disorder.
Controversial Australian star Nick Kyrgios was Thursday fined $113,000 (101,701 euros) after his explosive Cincinnati Masters meltdown which saw him smash two racquets, launch an abusive tirade at the chair umpire before appearing to spit at the official.
The ATP said the massive sanction included individual fines for ball abuse, leaving the court without permission, an audible obscenity and unsportsmanlike conduct during his second round loss to Russia’s Karen Khachanov.
Kyrgios, 24, was warned that he could also face another suspension from the sport once a full investigation has taken place.
After the world number 27 lost 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to Khachanov on Wednesday night, he called umpire Fergus Murphy a “fuckin’ tool”, refused to shake his hand while spitting in the direction of the chair.
He had earlier been handed a time violation, docked a point and was warned again after leaving the court without permission at the end of the second set after which he was seen to destroy two racquets in the corridor.
Kyrgios screamed at Murphy that he was the “worst umpire, hands down”.
The various Kyrgios infractions included four fines of $20,000 each for unsportsmanlike conduct plus another $20,000 for verbal abuse.
“In addition to the on-site fines, the ATP is looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted,” said an ATP statement.
“That could result in an additional fine and/or suspension.”
Kyrgios also had a run-in with Murphy at Queen’s Club in June after he accused a line judge of “match-rigging” and was given a code violation by the umpire.
At the Italian Open in Rome on the eve of Roland Garros, he was disqualified and fined for throwing a chair on to court.
He has also been at loggerheads with the world’s top two players, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal this year.
He accused Djokovic of trying too hard to be liked and blasted the Serb’s post-match “cup of love” celebrations as “cringeworthy”.
After beating Nadal in Acapulco earlier this year, the Spaniard said the Australian “lacked respect”.
The pair met in a bad-tempered Wimbledon second round match in which Kyrgios admitted deliberately spearing a forehand directly at Nadal.
“Why would I apologise? I mean, the dude has got how many slams, how much money in the bank account?” said Kyrgios after his four-set defeat.
“I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I’m not going to apologise to him at all.”
For good measure, Kyrgios picked up a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour and described the umpire as a “disgrace”, claiming his handling of the Centre Court blockbuster as “pathetic” for failing to warn the Spaniard over what he claimed was his pedestrian pace of play.
In 2015, in one of his more notorious outbursts, Kyrgios was fined for making a sexually disparaging remark in Canada about the girlfriend of three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.
The following year, he was banned for eight weeks after being accused of not trying at the Shanghai Masters.
Manchester City have been found guilty by FIFA of breaking the rules on international transfer and registration of players aged under 18, world football’s governing body announced on Tuesday.
The Premier League champions could have faced a transfer ban, but instead, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee fined City 370,000 Swiss Francs (339,000 euros or $379,000).
A FIFA statement said that the punishment “took into account the fact that Manchester City FC accepted its responsibility”.
While confirming they were willing to accept the fine, City claimed the problems occurred before FIFA clarified the rules.
The club said in a statement that the fine concerned “the international transfer of players under the age of 18, particularly in relation to their trial periods and participation in friendly games.”
“The club accepts responsibility for the breaches which arose as a result of misinterpretation of the regulations in question. All of the breaches occurred before December 2016 when guidance on the interpretation of the provisions was issued, since which date Manchester City has been fully compliant.”
Last year, FIFA cleared City of any wrongdoing over their 2016 signing of Benjamin Garre from Velez Sarsfield just after the Argentinian midfielder’s 16th birthday.
Also in 2018, two players from the Right to Dream football academy in Ghana, Sierra Leone’s George Davies and Ghanaian Dominic Oduro, told Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that they signed for City and played in youth matches before they turned 18. Both spent two years at the club.
Davies last played for Riga FC and Oduro now plays for the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United States.
City are also being investigated by both the Premier League and the Football Association in England and by UEFA, the governing body of European football.
The FA said in February it was looking into allegations that City paid £200,000 ($256,000) to winger Jadon Sancho’s agent when the player was 14 and still at Watford.
FA rules state that young players cannot be represented by an agent until the year they turn 16.
Sancho later left City for Borussia Dortmund. He is now an England international.
UEFA is focusing on another area and investigating whether City has breached Financial Fair Play rules.
City’s English rivals Chelsea are currently serving a one-year transfer ban after also being found guilty by the body in February of breaching regulations relating to the recruitment of minors.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have all served recent transfer bans for breaking FIFA rules on the issue.
US regulators on Wednesday slapped a record $5 billion fine on Facebook for privacy violations in a wide-ranging settlement that calls for revamping privacy controls and oversight at the social network.
The Federal Trade Commission said the penalty was the largest ever imposed on any company for violating consumers’ privacy and one of the largest penalties ever assessed by the US government for any violation.
However, two Democratic members of the five-member FTC dissented, arguing the agreement failed to go far enough to rein in Facebook business practices that endanger consumers.
The agreement requires Facebook to create a privacy committee within its board of directors to be appointed by an independent nominating committee.
This would end “unfettered control” of decisions on privacy by Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, the FTC statement said.
FTC Chairman Joe Simons said the penalty was appropriate to address concerns over Facebook’s misuse of personal information.
“The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC,” Simons said in a statement.
“The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations.”
Under the agreement, Facebook’s CEO and staff must submit to the FTC quarterly certifications that the company is in compliance with the privacy program as well as an annual certification.
Facebook also will be required to conduct a privacy review of every new or modified product, service, or practice before it is implemented, including for its WhatsApp and Instagram services.
Not far enough?
FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra rejected the settlement, saying it “does little to change the business model or practices that led to the recidivism.”
In a separate statement, dissenting FTC commissioner Rebecca Slaughter said the deal appears to absolve Facebook and key executives from liability. She said the government should instead take Facebook to court.
Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center called the FTC action “too little, too late.”
“American consumers cannot wait another decade for the commission to act against a company that violates their privacy rights,” Rotenberg said. “Congress should move quickly to establish a data protection agency.”
Charlotte Slaiman of the consumer group Public Knowledge also expressed concern that the settlement would do little to change Facebook’s business practices.
“Under this settlement, Facebook does not have to meaningfully change how it collects and uses your data,” Slaiman said.
Facebook’s top lawyer Colin Stretch said the agreement “will require a fundamental shift in the way we approach our work and it will place additional responsibility on people building our products at every level of the company.”
The FTC last year reopened its investigation of Facebook, which reached a 2011 settlement on handling private data, after a series of revelations on the mishandling of personal data.
The move came after Facebook acknowledged data on tens of millions of users had been hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy working on the 2016 Donald Trump campaign.
Settling Cambridge Analytica
In a separate agreement with stock market regulators, Facebook agreed to pay a $100 million penalty for making “misleading disclosures regarding the risk of misuse of Facebook user data” in the investigation on Cambridge Analytica.
“We allege that Facebook exacerbated its disclosure failures when it misled reporters who asked the company about its investigation into Cambridge Analytica,” said Erin Schneider, head of the regional enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The FTC announced a separate settlement on the Cambridge Analytica case that calls for its app developer Aleksandr Kogan and former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix to delete or destroy any personal information they collected.
Cambridge Analytica itself has filed for bankruptcy and has not settled the FTC’s investigation.
The news comes hours before Facebook was set to release its quarterly financial results.
Zuckerberg has said the social network, which has more than two billion users worldwide, will be shifting away from its role as a “digital town square” to focus on private connections and small groups.
Facebook is also seeking to launch its own digital currency called Libra, which has raised concerns among regulators.
Facebook said Wednesday it expects a fine of between $3 billion and $5 billion from US regulators investigating the huge social network’s mishandling of private user data.
In its quarterly earnings update, Facebook said it had set aside $3 billion from its first quarter results in reserve to pay any fine by the US Federal Trade Commission, which last year reopened its investigation into a 2011 privacy settlement with Facebook.
“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3.0 billion to $5.0 billion,” the company said. “The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.”
AC Milan and the Serie A club’s players Tiemoue Bakayoko and Franck Kessie have been fined a total of 86,000 euros ($97,000) for holding up Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi’s shirt like a trophy after Saturday’s 1-0 win over their Champions League rivals, according to Italian media.
Milan agreed with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) on a payment of 86,000 euros — 33,000 euros per player and 20,000 euros for the club, Gazzetta Dello Sport and Sky Sport Italia reported.
The fine was cut by a third as AC Milan agreed to pay it immediately.
Acerbi had angered the Milan pair when he said there was “no comparison” between the teams before the game.
France’s data watchdog on Monday announced a fine of 50 million euros ($57 million) for US search giant Google, using the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for the first time.
Google was handed the record fine from the CNIL regulator for failing to provide transparent and easily accessible information on its data consent policies, a statement said.
The CNIL said Google made it too difficult for users to understand and manage preferences on how their personal information is used, in particular with regards to targeted advertising.
“People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
“We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.”
The ruling follows complaints lodged by two advocacy groups last May, shortly after the landmark GDPR directive came into effect.
One was filed on behalf of some 10,000 signatories by France’s Quadrature du Net group, while the other was by None Of Your Business, created by the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.
Schrems had accused Google of securing “forced consent” through the use of pop-up boxes online or on its apps which imply that its services will not be available unless people accept its conditions of use.
“Also, the information provided is not sufficiently clear for the user to understand the legal basis for targeted advertising is consent, and not Google’s legitimate business interests,” the CNIL said.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery was fined £8,000 ($10,000) on Monday for kicking a water bottle into the crowd during his side’s Boxing Day draw at Brighton after admitting to a Football Association charge.
“Unai Emery has been fined £8,000 after he admitted an FA improper conduct charge and accepted the standard penalty,” English football’s governing body announced said in a statement.
The FA had announced on Thursday that the Spaniard had been charged over the incident — which took place at full-time of the Gunners’ 1-1 draw on the south coast — although Emery himself had initially hoped his apologising to the home supporter would have been enough to see him escape punishment.
“I hope so, yes,” the former Paris Saint-Germain boss had said when asked whether his apology should be the end of the matter.
“But I have to respect the decision because it is a circumstance of my action but not another intention from me with the supporter. I say to them my apology.”
Emery has however escaped a touchline ban and will be free to take charge when Fulham visit the Emirates on New Year’s Day.