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      Belgian judges demand Facebook destroy data it collected on non-users

      Facebook, which faces 100 million euros in fines, defended the practice

      In Europe, where consumers are protected by tougher privacy and data regulations than they are in the United States, judges have once again ruled that Facebook is breaking the law.

      A court in Belgium on Friday ordered Facebook to stop tracking and recording the browsing habits of non-users, “as it does not bring its practices in line with Belgian privacy legislation.”

      The Belgium verdict follows a ruling against Facebook in Germany last Monday.  In the latter case, a Berlin judge ruled that eights clauses in Facebook’s terms of service are illegal and that Facebook’s default privacy settings do not give users adequate consent or allow them to easily opt-out.

      “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,” an attorney with The Federation of German Consumer Organisations,  the organization that brought the lawsuit against Facebook,  said in a statement.

      Facebook says they plan to appeal the Berlin court’s decision.

      Facebook ordered to publicize judgment

      In the Belgian verdict, judges ordered Facebook to destroy data that they determined was “illegally obtained” and publicize the court’s unflattering findings about itself.

      The judges not only demanded that Facebook publish “the entire 84-page judgment on its website,” but also stipulated that Facebook publish a portion of the judgement in Dutch-language and French-language Belgian newspapers.  

      Facebook, which has so far given no indication that it plans to follow the order, faces fines of 250,000 euros a day or a max-out of 100 million euros for not complying.

      “The cookies and pixels we use are industry standard technologies and enable hundreds of thousands of businesses to grow their businesses and reach customers across the EU,” Facebook’s public policy spokesman Richard Allan told TechCrunch in a statement.

      “We require any business that uses our technologies to provide clear notice to end-users, and we give people the right to opt-out of having data collected on sites and apps off Facebook being used for ads.”

      Tracks non-users

      Facebook’s use of tracking codes through social plug-ins, commonly known as “cookies,” allows the social media giant to sell targeted advertising. The cookies work by collecting the browsing habits of consumers, even those who do not use the social media site or who have cancelled their accounts.

      “This does not only concern Facebook users, but almost all internet users in Belgium and Europe,” Belgium's Privacy Commission, the agency that filed suit against Facebook, explains on its website.

      Belgian watchdogs have been fighting the practice since 2015 with a civil suit and subsequent judgement which orders Facebook to stop invisibly tracking consumers or face hefty fines. But Facebook fought the ruling  with the argument that the Belgian courts did not have jurisdiction over its business because Facebook’s Europe office is headquartered in Ireland.

      Facebook’s appeals have been repeatedly shot down by the Belgian courts trying to crack down on the company. Much like the recent ruling in Germany, a report commissioned by the Belgian Privacy Commission in 2015 determined that Facebook’s privacy settings do not give users informed consent and that its terms of service violate European consumer privacy laws.

      Higher European standards irk companies

      While Facebook does allow users to opt-out of the tracking cookies, that this option is only available for people with a Facebook account,  not non--users. “The current practice does not meet the requirements for legally valid consent,” the Belgian Privacy Commission report said.

      The European Union considers data protection to be a fundamental right and places broad regulations on the tech, financial, and advertising industries over how they handle data.

      But tech giants have bristled at European attempts to regulate data collection and other aspects of their businesses. Last summer, European regulators fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros after finding it was manipulating search results in a manner that promotes its own shopping services over competitors. It was the largest antitrust fine implemented to date by the European Union.

      Google responded by offering concessions, such as opening its “shopping” search results to competitors, but it also appealed the ruling in September.

      In Europe, where consumers are protected by tougher privacy and data regulations than they are in the United States, judges have once again ruled that Face...
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      Amazon to offer perks to Prime members who shop at Whole Foods

      The Amazon Prime credit card will give members 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases

      Since purchasing Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has made several changes to the way the high-end grocery retailer does business, including slashing the prices of some Whole Foods bestsellers and offering free two-hour delivery to Prime members in select cities.

      Now, Amazon has announced that Prime members will get 5 percent back at Whole Foods when using their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature credit cards. Customers with the non-Prime version of the card will earn 3 percent back.

      The cashback incentives are already available at Amazon.com. The perks were launched in the hope of encouraging spending on Amazon and fueling purchases of Amazon’s $99 per year Prime membership, as well as encouraging Prime members to shop at the Whole Foods.

      Extending the perks to Whole Foods shoppers will be the first time Amazon has offered 5 percent back on purchases made outside its website.

      Amazon’s latest move since acquiring Whole Foods falls in line with CEO Jeff Bezos’ ultimate vision for Prime, which he has previously said is to make its selection of rewards and offerings so plentiful that it simply becomes “irresponsible” for consumers not to sign up.  

      Amazon cardholders who earn rewards at Whole Foods stores can choose to convert them into a statement credit or redeem them online to make purchases on Amazon or other eligible sites.

      Since purchasing Whole Foods in 2017, Amazon has made several changes to the way the high-end grocery retailer does business, including slashing the prices...
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      Specialized Bicycle Components recalls bicycles

      The fork on the bicycle can break and cause the rider to lose control

      Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., is recalling about 6,100 bicycles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

      The fork on the bicycle can break and cause the rider to lose control, posing a crash hazard.

      The firm has received one report of cracking in the fork. No crashes or injuries have been reported.

      This recall involves all model year 2018 Specialized Allez (Base), Allez Sport, and Allez Elite road racing bicycles. The recalled bicycles have an alloy frame and composite fork.

      “Specialized” is printed on the downtube, “Allez” is printed on the bottom of each fork leg and “FACT” is printed on the inside of the left fork leg.

      Model

      Colors

      2018 Specialized Allez

      Gloss Rocket Red/Tarmac Black combination, Satin Black/Charcoal Clean combination

      2018 Specialized Allez Sport

      Gloss Cosmic White/Satin Black combination, Satin Navy/Gloss Nordic Red combination

      2018 Specialized Allez Elite

      Gloss Light Blue/Rocket Red, Satin Black/White Clean

      The bicycles, manufactured in Taiwan, were sold at authorized Specialized retailers nationwide from July 2017, through December 2017, for between $750 and $1,200.

      What to do

      Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and contact an Authorized Specialized Retailer for instructions on how to receive a free installation of a new fork.

      Consumers may contact an Authorized Specialized Retailer directly or Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc. toll-free at 877-808-8154 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday, by email at ridercare@specialized.com or online at www.specialized.com and click on “Safety Notifications” for more information.

      Specialized Bicycle Components of Morgan Hill, Calif., is recalling about 6,100 bicycles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.The fork on the bicycle ca...
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