TOP NEWS STORIES – 14TH – 20TH DECEMBER 2020

  • THE YEAR ENDS IN TIERS

On Saturday it was announced that a new Tier was being introduced, Tier 4, that would see much of the country in a total lockdown – the third one so far.

Under Tier 4 restrictions, non-essential shops, hairdressers, and leisure and entertainment venues must close, with a new “stay at home” message introduced. This also means that you cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless you have a reasonable excuse, some including for exercise, work or volunteering, medical reasons, education, communal worship. You cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your support bubble. If you have formed a support bubble, it is advised that this is with a household who lives locally to help prevent spread of the virus from an area where infection rates are high.

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines. For your first offence, you can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200, doubling for further offences up to maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

From Sunday, more than 18 million people across the south-east have been banned from mixing indoors and outdoors with others and retail, leisure and hospitality businesses all closed.

In the rest of England, the window for multiple households meeting has been reduced from a five-day window between 23rd and 27th to just Christmas Day. The news was given just days before Christmas.

Matt Hancock, The Health Secretary, has said that these restrictions are likely to last for months, until the vaccine has been rolled out across the UK.

These tight restrictions have come into place due to a new mutant variant of Covid-19, which scientists believe is spreading more quickly than the previous form. It is believed that 6 in 10 Londoners who have the virus have this new variant, which is up to 70% more transmissible than the original variant.

  • GOOGLE FITBT MERGER

The European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the acquisition of Fitbit by Google, but with some conditions. The acquisition approval is conditional on full compliance with a number of commitments, including a Fitbit data silo separate from Google’s data.

The tech giant’s parent company agreed to purchase wearable fitness device firm Fitbit for $2.1bn in late 2019. However, the European Commission raised concerns around the acquisition, primarily that the proposed deal would increase the “already vast” amount of data Google can use for ad targeting, further entrenching the company’s dominance in online advertising.

In a decision announced yesterday last Thursday, European Commission executive vice-president, Margrethe Vestager, said the commission is able to approve the proposed acquisition because Google made a number of commitments that will ensure the wearables and digital health space market will remain open and competitive. The data silo is now required as one of Google’s commitments to maintain a technical separation of relevant Fitbit user data. Google must also commit to not use the health and wellness data collected from wrist-worn wearable devices and other Fitbit devices of users in the European Economic Area (EEA) for Google Ads. This includes search advertising, display advertising and advertising intermediation products, as well as manually inserted data and any data collected via sensors such as GPS.

  • BENTLEY LOSES BATTLE OVER TRADEMARK

Car maker Bentley Motors has lost its trademark appeal against Bentley Clothing. In turn, this means Bentley Motors cannot use its name on any of its clothing, apart from jackets, silk ties, caps and scarves. It will not be allowed to sell other types of clothing as part of its profitable lifestyle goods range.

Bentley Motors and Bentley Clothing have been in a dispute since 1998. Manchester’s Bentley Clothing, established in 1962, registered a trademark of the name Bentley in 1982. The car firm began selling its own clothing in 1987, a move described as ‘honest concurrent use’.

The car firm may now have to pay damages – and, reports, the BBC, could also be forced to “either hand over or destroy any items in its possession which infringe the trademark”.

The courts initially threw out Bentley Motors’ case and ruled they cannot use the name or logo on its clothing range. Bentley Motors appealed, and the Court of Appeal upheld the previous ruling.

  • BITCOIN HITS RECORD HIGH

Bitcoin’s rally reached a record $23,000 last week as it rose 8% against the dollar, a target that has been a key milestone for investors.

Square, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s payment company, invested $50 million in Bitcoin in October. Also during the month of October, PayPal said it would allow customers to buy and hold cyrpto through its app. Since 2018, Square has let people buy crypto through its Cash app and said last month 80% of Cash’s third quarter revenue came from bitcoin trading.

High profile hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones bought bitcoin in May as a hedge against inflation. It marked one of the highest-profile endorsements of bitcoin from a traditional money manager.

Had someone bought 1 Bitcoin in 2011, it would now be worth $230,000. The currency is up nearly 200% this year and over 700% up from its 2018 lows.

  • TWITTER FINED 450,000

Twitter has been fined 450,000 in Ireland for a GDPR breach. Due to Twitter failing to document a data breach properly and notify the data protection regulator quickly enough, a bug meant that Android users with private twitter accounts saw their tweets become public if certain unrelated actions were made by the user.

Under the GDPR, the regulator must be notified of any identified data breaches within 72 hours. The regulation also requires they document what data was involved and how they’ve responded to the security incident, in order that the relevant data supervisor can check against compliance. In this case, Twitter was found to have failed on both counts.

Many big tech companies have their EU headquarters in Ireland and so the Irish DPC supervises the firms under GDPR. An investigation was launched by Ireland’s chief data regulator, Helen Dixon, in January 2019 after Twitter notified it of a GDPR breach. The Irish Data Protection Commission therefore deemed it appropriate to fine Twitter. Twitter accepted full responsibility.

Companies can be fined up to 4% of global annual revenues for breaching GDPR. For Twitter, that could mean a fine of up to $138 million.

~ There won’t be a weekly news roundup for next week! (Christmas break) ~

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A future trainee solicitor encouraging and supporting social mobility, and showing you anything is possible.

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