Business Briefs – March 26, 2018

FTC, States Increase Pressure On Facebook on Privacy

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. regulators and state attorneys general are increasing pressure on Facebook, as they probe whether the company’s data collection practices have hurt the people who use its services. The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook’s privacy practices following a week of privacy scandals including allegations a Trump-affiliated political consulting firm got data inappropriately from millions of Facebook users. Facebook’s stock, which already took a big hit last week, plunged further.

The stock eked out a gain of 67 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $160.06.

South Korea Agrees to Further Open Auto Market to US

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korea has agreed to further open its auto market to the United States as the two countries prepare to amend their six-year-old free trade agreement. Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said Monday that the United States will end tariffs on South Korean pick-up trucks in 2041 instead of 2021, while South Korea will relax standards on imported U.S. vehicles. Kim said South Korea won an exemption from import tariffs on steel products.

Battle Brews Over Fund That Feeds Alaskans’ Yearly Oil Check

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – A battle is brewing over earnings from Alaska’s oil wealth fund, which provides annual payouts for residents in the state. Lawmakers are faced with limited options for filling a budget deficit that has deepened amid years of low oil prices. They’re considering dipping into fund earnings to help pay the state’s bills. Major proposals include changing how Alaskans’ annual checks from fund earnings are calculated. The check amount has been capped the past two years, fueling anger among some.

Cisco Systems Gives $50m to Combat California Homelessness

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Internet gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. announced on Monday that it will donate $50 million over a period of five years to address the growing problem of homelessness in California’s Santa Clara County and is encouraging other Silicon Valley companies to make similar efforts.

In a blog post, Chief Executive Chuck Robbins said it’s evident to people in the San Francisco Bay Area that homelessness has reached a crisis level, costing the county where many tech companies are based $520 million per year.

“Though homelessness seems intractable, I believe that it is a solvable issue,” Robbins wrote. “I also feel very strongly that we have an opportunity — and a responsibility — to do something about it.”