Google fined £44m for GDPR breach
Google has been hit with a record €50m (£44m) fine by French data regulator CNIL for breaching the EU’s data protection rules (GDPR).
CNIL said people were “not sufficiently informed” about how Google collected data to personalise advertising, leading to a “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation”.
The regulator claims that Google did not obtain clear consent to process data because “essential information” was “disseminated across several documents”, meaning it was only accessible to users after five or six steps, rather than being upfront.
CNIL also added that Google failed to obtain a valid legal basis to process user data and that the option to personalise ads was “pre-ticked” when creating an account, which was not in line with GDPR rules.
In a statement the regulator added: “The user gives his or her consent in full, for all the processing operations purposes carried out by Google based on this consent (ads personalisation, speech recognition, etc).
“However, the GDPR provides that the consent is ‘specific’ only if it is given distinctly for each purpose.”
Google said it was “studying the decision” to determine its next steps and reiterated that it was deeply committed to meeting the “expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR.”
The complaints were filed to CNIL in May 2018 by privacy rights groups Noyb and La Quadrature du Net (LQDN). Noyb has also filed complaints against Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Spotify.
The group alleges that while Amazon, Apple and Spotify let users download a copy of their personal information quickly, some of the data was supplied in a format that could not be easily understood. Netflix supplied the requested data in a format that was easy to understand, but Noyb claims it did not supply all the additional information and took about 30 days to reply.
EasyJet takes £15m hit on Gatwick drone fiasco
EasyJet has taken a £15m hit following the drone activity which brought Gatwick Airport to a standstill in December, including £5m in cancelled flights and lost revenue, plus a further £10m in customer welfare costs. The incident affected around 82,000 EasyJet customers and led to over 400 of its flights being cancelled.
Beyond the cost of the drone chaos, EasyJet experienced “robust customer demand” during the quarter ending on 31 December, with total revenue up 13.7% to £1,296m and passenger revenue rising 12.2% to £1,025m.
Passenger numbers during the quarter increased by 15.1% to 21.6 million, driven by an 18.2% increase in capacity. Total revenue per seat decreased by 4.2% at constant currency, in line with expectations.
According to chief executive, Johan Lundgren, recognition of the EasyJet brand continues to grow, with the airline making good progress on its strategic initiatives around holidays, business, loyalty and data. He also praised the EasyJet teams for working around the clock to mitigate the impact of the drone activity at Gatwick and looking after affected customers.
Tesco among brands slammed for using cheap labour
Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Mothercare are under fire for using factories in Bangladesh that pay machinists the equivalent of just 35p an hour.
An investigation by the Guardian found that Interstoff Apparels supplies garments to major British retailers, as well as manufacturing charity Spice Girls T-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief.
The mainly female employees, who it is claimed experienced verbal abuse and harassment during 16-hour shifts, produced the £19.40 charity T-shirts intended to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign.
The Spice Girls and Comic Relief told the Guardian they had been kept in the dark about a change of manufacturer and were “shocked and concerned” by the findings. Both parties said they checked the ethical sourcing credentials of the online retailer commissioned by the band to make the T-shirts, but claim it had subsequently changed manufacturer without their knowledge.
Tesco and M&S have now launched investigations into their connections to Interstoff Apparels, while Mothercare is said to be reviewing the findings. M&S, which has worked with the manufacturer 13 years, said it had arranged for a compliance manager to visit the site soon as possible.
Dixons Carphone boosted by international market
Revenue across the Dixons Carphone group rose by 1% in the 10 weeks to 5 January, with the international market proving a stronger proposition with like-for-like revenue up 5%.
Greece performed particularly strongly, up 19%, with revenue coming from the Nordics rising by 3%. The company praised the “excellent performance” of its international business, which now accounts for 40% of all Dixons Carphone’s sales.
In the UK and Ireland, however, like-for-like mobile revenue was down 7%, with electricals up 2%. Sales were strong in TV, a category where Dixons Carphone sought to jump on the “supersizing trend”, smart tech and gaming. Sales across the company’s gaming category rose up 60%.
Group chief executive, Alex Baldock, described peak trading as solid, disciplined and well-executed given the tough backdrop.
Marks & Spencer launches online image search tool
Marks & Spencer has launched a photo search shopping function on its mobile site as part of a wider digital-first strategy aimed at ensuring a third of all its clothing and home sales are online by 2022.
Shoppers upload an existing photo or take a new one of any outfit and the Style Finder function uses AI to display similar-looking products available on the M&S mobile site in less than 10 seconds. Customers can add additional filters based on personal preferences such as size, price and colour.
The initial roll out across womenswear and menswear is designed to give consumers an “enhanced shopping experience” on mobile and tablet, which now account for 75% of all M&S’ online visits.
“Enhancing the customer experience is central to our digital transformation journey,” says Jim Cruickshank, head of digital product and UX at M&S. “This is a brilliant example of how we’re becoming more relevant, more often, to our customers who are increasingly shopping online and in particular using mobile devices.”
Monday January 21
Mike Ashley in talks to buy HMV
Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley has placed a bid to buy struggling music chain HMV after it went into administration for the second time just before Christmas.
It is understood that Ashley, who in the last six months has bought House of Fraser and Evans Cycles, has held talks with key music and entertainment industry suppliers to HMV, with sources saying he is “serious” about the buy.
Ashley is one of a handful of formal offers made to KPMG ahead of the deadline of 15 January, however KPMG has refused to reveal who else has come forward. The value of the offers also remains unclear but it is likely KPMG will make a decision by the end of the week.
More than 125 HMV stores and 2,000 jobs are currently at risk.
Just Eat CEO departs
Peter Plumb is stepping down as chief executive officer and a director of Just Eat, with chief customer officer Peter Duffy taking on both roles in the interim with immediate effect while a search for a permanent replacement gets under way.
Chairman Mike Evans says: “The Board would like to thank Peter Plumb for setting Just Eat on a new course which better places it to address a much larger and rapidly expanding market. We wish him well for the future.
“Peter Duffy and the senior leadership team will continue to drive the execution of our strategy, which has the full backing of the Board. Peter Duffy and Paul Harrison, Chief Financial Officer, will provide a full update to the market at our full year results.”
Plumb says: “2018 was another year of strong growth for the Group. The business is in good health, and now is the right time for me to step aside and make way for a new leader for the next exciting wave of growth.”
UK high street expected to lose 23,000 shops this year
23,000 shops and 175,000 jobs are predicted to go from the British high street in 2019, according to real estate adviser Atlus Group’s annual report.
This means 2019 is on track to be a worse year than 2018, when almost 20,000 stores and 150,000 jobs were lost.
This year the overall value of retail property is expected to fall by 15.9%, with 62% of major UK property owners and investors claiming Amazon and other online players have disrupted the retail property market.
“Retail of the future will use bricks-and-mortar spaces in a very different way mixed in with leisure and lifestyle residential spaces,” says Guillaume Fiastre, managing director of Atlus Group.
“The most successful retailers – the survivors – are learning to draw in their customers with the promise of a personalised experience. Technology makes that all possible but it still needs a strong human element.”
Verizon unveils Super Bowl campaign
Verizon is returning to the Super Bowl with its ‘The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here’ campaign which kicks off this week.
Starting with a 60-second TV spot airing during the AFC and NFC Championship games on Sunday which will culminate at Super Bowl with an in-game advertisement, the campaign highlights the real stories of 12 NFL stars who have all experience a life-changing situation and the first responders who saved them, including car accidents, childhood house fired and natural disasters.
It also includes a documentary that focuses on the backstories of the first responders and a dedicated microsite (AllOurThanks.com) while Verizon will donate $1, up to $1.5m, to First Responder Outreach every time someone shares on Twitter or Facebook with #AllOurThanks from the website via the share buttons; shares any Verizon social post with #AllOurThanks on Facebook or Twitter; or posts on Twitter with #AllOurThanks.
In addition, Verizon is opening a 5G First Responder Lab – a first-of-its-kind incubator that will give start-ups and innovators access to 5G technology to develop, test and build 5G solutions for public safety.
AB Inbev launches Beck’s Blue Monday
Brits will be able to get a free bottle of alcohol-free beer Beck’s Blue this week as part of AB Inbev’s first ever Beck’s Blue Monday campaign.
Kickstarting on Blue Monday, which is known as the gloomiest day of the year, the offer will run in more than 1,000 bars and pubs across the UK including All Bar One, Nicholson’s, Vintage Inns and O’Neils.
It comes following research AB Inbev conducted last year revealing 20 January is the day consumers are most likely to break their alcohol-free New Year resolutions
“When speaking with our partners we often hear the same concerns: after a busy Christmas and New Year’s, pubs struggle to get people though the door in January. We wanted to create a fun campaign that would help the On Trade boost footfall while also being mindful of consumers’ growing appetite for abstinence and moderation,” says AB InBev’s On Trade sales director Rory McLellan.
“Beck’s Blue with its distinctive, light, crisp refreshing taste is a must-stock for pubs and bars looking to draw people in during the quieter periods, as many will be looking for venues that stock a good selection of low and no alcohol beers. At AB InBev we are committed to offering people choice.”