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Eurobites: Turmoil at Telecom Italia Continues as 8 Board Members Resign

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: EU warns US on data controls; UK broadband providers come up short; how clean is your USB stick?

  • The fun and games continue at Telecom Italia (TIM) , with most of its board resigning on Thursday in what is being seen largely as a tactical move to fend off the activist investor Elliott Advisors, which is unhappy with the growing influence of major shareholder Vivendi on the operator. Among those heading for the door were, as Reuters reports, TIM chairman (and Vivendi CEO) Arnaud de Puyfontaine and Deputy Chairman Giuseppe Recchi, the latter being replaced, somewhat bizarrely, by former CEO and current board member Franco Bernabe. According to a statement by de Puyfontaine, cited by Reuters, the move "will allow TIM shareholders to decide quickly on a new full board ... rather than voting on piecemeal changes to the board as called for by Elliott." (See Eurobites: TIM's Management Turmoil Continues and Telecom Italia Drama: What Is Vivendi Up To?)

  • As the row surrounding the misuse of Facebook data in the US presidential election rumbles on, the European Commission has warned the US that its data controls need to be tightened up. As the BBC reports, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said that data controls in the US, such as those that make up the so-called Privacy Shield US-Europe data transfer protocol, fall short of those operating within the EU. On May 25 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, which should further strengthen data protection laws in Europe. (See Eurobites: Cambridge Analytica Feels the Heat.)

  • UK broadband providers are still getting it in the neck from Which?, the influential consumer rights organization. In an extensive ring-round of providers, undercover Which? "mystery shoppers" purporting to be in the market for a new broadband package found that providers gave out the regulator-recommended information relating to expected broadband speeds in less than half of the calls. Under Ofcom's current Code of Practice -- due to be updated in March 2019 -- providers should give customers estimated residential broadband speeds "as early as practicable" in the sales process. TalkTalk came bottom of the pile, only giving the relevant information five times out of 12; by contrast, Sky shone, offering estimated speeds 21 times out of 24 occasions.

  • You know that trusty USB stick you found down the back of the sofa and use for transferring all sensitive company data from your work PC? It's filthy! That, at least, is the thinking behind a new product from Orange Cyberdefense. Its Malware Cleaner is described as a mobile decontamination terminal for USB flash drives, and when a USB stick is shoved into it, it uses five anti-virus search engines to detect any nasties. According to Orange, 70% of employees use USB flash drives from outside their company and connect them to the company network, and 68% of them take no precautions before insertion.

  • Earlier this week private equity firm PPF agreed to buy Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN)'s mobile operations in Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro for €2.8 billion ($3.45 billion). Bloomberg today takes a closer look at PPF, speculating that it may soon mount a serious challenge to the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telekom Austria. (See Telenor Offloads Its CEE Unit for €2.8B.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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