France To Sanction Google Over Privacy Rules

Air France said Sept. 23 it would await more information from the Italian carriers board before committing to any move. Hiring Advisers The relatively small capital increase being sought suggests the move is only a short or mid-term solution, said Yan Derocle, an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris. Air France has hired Lazard Ltd. (LAZ) and Mediobanca SpA (MB) as advisers to consider its options on Alitalia, Italy s Messaggero reported this week, without saying where it obtained the information. Alitalia in turn has hired Gruppo Banca Leonardo as seeks to end operating losses in 2014. While owning Alitalia would give Europes largest airline access to one of the regions biggest aviation markets and help feed trans-Atlantic routes, the need for capital comes as Air Frances domestic unit struggles to stem its own losses. The Paris-based carrier last week scrapped a target of reaching break-even at Air France as it sought to cut 2,800 more jobs. Italys Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Maurizio Lupi, met with his French counterpart yesterday to discuss the situation. He has said the government is not against Air France doubling its stake, while seeking guarantees on jobs and investments for the flagship carrier. Falling Traffic The Italian airlines passenger traffic retreated 4 percent to 10.7 million passengers in the first six months, with revenue falling to 1.62 billion euros. Net financial debt for the carrier reached 946 million euros, including 600 million euros for aircraft liabilities, it said. Alitalias board will reconvene on Oct. 3, the airline said. In July, Alitalia management, which in March promised to reach break-even in 2013, put the requirement for additional financial resources at 300 million euros this year.

France to examine laws curbing Sunday shopping

The issue of data protection has gathered steam worldwide following revelations by Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the National Security Agency, that the US had a vast, secret programme called PRISM to monitor Internet users. France’s National Commission on Computing and Freedom (CNIL) said on Friday that Google had failed to comply with data protection guidelines within a three-month deadline and said it would begin a formal sanction procedure, under which the US giant could be fined up to 150,000 euros ($205,000). CNIL had asked Google to inform web users in France on how it processes their personal data and to define exactly how long they can store the information. It had also requested that the US giant obtain users’ permission before storing cookies on their computers, referring to files that track netizens and allow companies to target them with tailored commercials. “On the last day of this (three-month) period, Google responded to the CNIL. Google contests the reasoning of the CNIL and has not complied with the requests laid down in the enforcement notice,” the watchdog said in a written statement. “In this context, the Chair of the CNIL will now designate a rapporteur for the purpose of initiating a formal procedure for imposing sanctions.” In its response, Google made no mention of any challenge to CNIL’s reasoning and maintained it respects European law. Privacy policy “Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services. We have engaged fully with CNIL throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward,” Google spokesman Al Verney said, according to AP news agency. France’s move follows Google’s introduction last year of a new privacy policy which enables it to track user activity across its search engine, Gmail, the Google+ social networking platform and other services it owns, which include YouTube. The changes make it easier for Google to collect and process data that could be used by advertisers to target individuals with offers tailored to their specific interest, thereby increasing the company’s revenue potential. Google has defended the changes it made last year on the ground that they simplify and standardise its approach across its various services. But critics argue that the policy, which offers no ability to opt out aside from refraining from signing into Google services, gives the operator of the world’s largest search engine unprecedented ability to monitor its users. While always on the agenda, the issue of data protection took on an extra dimension when Snowden’s revelations were published in June.

A sporadic debate revived last week after a court, ruling on an unfair-competition lawsuit brought by a rival hardware vendor, ordered home improvement chains Leroy Merlin and Castorama to shut 14 Paris-area stores on Sundays. It threatened fines of 120,000 euros ($162,000) on each store that violated the rules. The stores got temporary waivers, but their employees were growling insisting that Sunday openings give them needed extra pay and suit customers who find it hard to shop during the work week bustle. “We want to work Sunday! Let us work!” said Gerard Fillon, spokesman for an association of employees whose name translates as Sunday’s Handymen, and a Leroy Merlin employee. At one store in Gennevilliers, some employees dressed in T-shirts with “Yes Week End” written on them. Ayrault commissioned a panel to report on the complex issue by late November. “The government notes that Sunday rest is an essential principle in terms of protecting workers and social cohesion” while recognizing that “the existence of Sunday work is a reality,” his office said in a noncommittal statement. The current debate stems from a 2009 move by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s center-right government that eased back curbs on Sunday store openings. The efforts faced political opposition and resulted in a mish-mash of legal waivers, special-zone exemptions and other loopholes. Most French consumers are used to the country’s Sunday rhythm: Shopping is restricted to tourist areas or owner-operated stores. Restaurants are exempt, but even supermarkets only open a half-day with some exceptions.