Regulation

Regulators Eyeing Social Media In Europe

Against the backdrop of social media controversy — remember Facebook, of course, and 87 million users’ data exposed to Cambridge Analytica — oversight is tightening in Europe.

The regulatory gaze become more fully trained on social media as in Germany, intelligence official Hans Georg Maassen said last week that regulation may be needed for social media companies if the European Union finds that more transparency is needed.

Referring to the European Union, Maassen said that “The Commission is in negotiations, but if this consciousness doesn’t help, then we may have to adopt regulations.”

In a bit of similar sentiment coming from another country across the pond, Andrew Parker, who helms the British M15 spy agency, said companies have been reworking the way they conduct business, but added that there is additional work to do. “We do not accept that the internet is some sort of ‘Wild West’ where no moral values can apply.”

Also, in the U.K., the Independent reports that the Labour party will mull replacing the U.K’s finance regulators — actions that might be taken amid the fallout of Carillion’s collapse.  That multinational facilities management and construction company was liquidated earlier this yearAlong with that liquidation, roughly 900 million pounds of debt remained behind, and the smaller construction firms in the industry were left reeling.

As to what might transpire, a “complete overhaul” of the accounting landscape may be in the offing — as will be noted this week by shadow Chancellor John McDonnell in a speech on the state of the economy.  The overarching aim would be to keep the “big six” firms from acting as a cartel that in effect drives down standards, as noted by the Independent.

Facebook itself has raised the specter of regulation in the wake of the scandal in which Cambridge Analytica, which now has been shuttered, took information tied to 87 million users without the express permission of those users.

And even though Cambridge Analytica has closed up shop, the story is likely far from over.  The news came last week that the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI are investigating the company over how it handled Facebook-derived information.  The New York Times has reported that former company employees have been questioned during investigations and have also spoken to banks, all part of an “open” investigation into Cambridge Analytica.

In company-specific news here in the U.S., Wells Fargo is on the receiving end of accusations that employees have altered corporate customer data tied to its business banking unit, as The Wall Street Journal has reported.   This time around, it appears that none of the data was used to create sham accounts for retail customers — as has been seen in the lingering scandal that stretches back over two years.   In this case, allegedly, the banking unit’s employees added or altered data as varied as social security numbers to birthdates for people that had been business banking clients.

Reports stated that the data had been altered during the period between 2017 to early 2018, and that the actions came over a timeframe where the bank was striving to meet deadlines for regulatory orders governing anti-money laundering controls.  The bank has said the newest headlines revolve around documents used for “internal” purposes and that “no customers were negatively impacted, no data left the company, and no products or services were sold as a result.”

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