Business Briefs – May 22, 2018

Facebook Chief Faces EU Grilling Over His ‘Digital Monster’

BRUSSELS (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions from European Union lawmakers Tuesday over what one of them branded Zuckerberg’s “digital monster,” and he apologized for the way the social network has been used to produce fake news, interfere in elections and sweep up people’s personal data. At a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, legislators sought explanations about the growing number of false Facebook accounts and whether Facebook will comply with new EU privacy rules, but many were left frustrated by Zuckerberg’s lack of answers. After short opening remarks, Zuckerberg listened to all the questions first, and then responded to them all at once.

Low U.S. Unemployment Rate Masks Financial Struggles for Many

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Federal Reserve survey shows that despite an ultra-low 3.9 percent unemployment rate, about one-third of U.S. adults faced financial insecurity last year and often struggled to pay unexpected expenses. For three in 10 adults, their monthly incomes fluctuated — often because their work schedules changed at short notice — and that caused about one in ten Americans to miss some bill payments. Forty percent of adults would have had to borrow money or sell something to pay an emergency expense of just $400. At the same time, the survey finds the improving economy is benefiting more Americans, including at all education and income levels.

Congress Nears Dismantling Of Post-Crisis Bank Rules

WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress was taking a final step Tuesday toward dismantling a chunk of the rules framework for banks installed to prevent a recurrence of the 2008 financial crisis that brought millions of lost jobs and foreclosed homes. The House planned to approve legislation to roll back the Dodd-Frank law, easing rules for banks and notching a legislative win for President Donald Trump, who made gutting the landmark law a campaign promise. The Republican legislation, pushed by Wall Street banks as well as regional banks and smaller institutions, carries bipartisan support. The bill splintered Democrats into two camps when the Senate voted 67-31 to approve it in March.

Airlines Caving to Beijing Despite White House Protest

SHANGHAI (AP) – Global airlines are obeying Beijing’s demands to refer to Taiwan explicitly as a part of China, despite the White House’s call this month to stand firm against such “Orwellian nonsense.” The Associated Press found 20 carriers, including Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa, that now refer to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing considers Chinese territory, as a part of China on their global websites. There are just three days left for dozens of foreign airlines to decide whether to comply with Beijing’s orders, or face consequences that could cripple their China business, including legal sanctions. Many have already sided with Beijing.

Amazon Urged Not to Sell Facial Recognition Tool to Police

SEATTLE (AP) – The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon — to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.