Eurobites: French Regulator Fines Google €50M for Overstepping the GDPR Mark

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Com Hem launches mobile offer; TomTom sells Telematics unit to Bridgestone; more Huawei heebie-jeebies.

  • The French data regulator has fined Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) €50 million (US$56.7 million) for a lack of transparency over how it collects users' data for "personalized" advertising, the BBC reports. The regulator, CNIL, sees Google's actions as infringing the principles of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the EU's data protection rules which were introduced last year. Of course, it's not the first time Google has fallen foul of European rulings: In 2017 the search giant was hit with a $2.7 billion fine for unfairly favoring its own comparison-shopping service over those of its rivals. (See Eurobites: EU Approves Rejigged Data Rules, Eurobites: Privacy Champion Slams Web Giants Over GDPR Tactics and Eurobites: Google's Q2 Gouged by EU Mega-Fine.)

  • Com Hem, the Swedish cable operator that is now part of Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO), is launching a mobile service on its parent company's network. Com Hem claims to be the first brand in Sweden to combine broadband, TV and mobile services on one bill.

  • Dutch navigation services company TomTom International BV is selling its Telematics fleet management arm to Bridgestone, the US tire manufacturer, for €910 million euros ($1 billion). As Bloomberg reports, TomTom intends to focus its energies on competing with the likes of Google in the market for personal navigation devices, which in recent years has seen the rise of smartphone-centered navigation technology at the expense of "traditional" GPS-powered sat-navs.

  • The Huawei heebie-jeebies continue, reports Reuters (citing Les Echos), with the French government now considering a bill amendment that would allow its authorities to make "retroactive" checks on telecom equipment after it has been installed, with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd gear very much in mind. (See Eurobites: Now Germany Gets the Huawei Heebie-Jeebies.)

  • MTN Zambia and Kirusa have launched a new OTT roaming service for customers travelling outside Zambia. MTN Zambia customers can now download Kirusa's InstaVoice ReachMe app and use their MTN number anywhere in the world, even where the operator has no roaming partners. The app works by converting regular phone calls into VoIP calls, allowing users to make or receive such calls within the app.

  • Swiss mobile operator Salt SA has appointed two new faces to its management team: Christian Aveni (ex-Swisscom) becomes chief business officer, while Andreas Kuntz (ex-Logitech) becomes chief of corporate affairs and general counsel.

  • If confirmation were needed that people are hanging onto their old smartphones for longer, the latest figures from UK handset retailer Dixons Carphone provide just that. As the BBC reports, sales of mobile phones in the ten weeks to January 5 were down 7% year-on-year as mobile users opted for SIM-only deals rather than all-in contracts that include shiny new devices. Revenues were up 1% overall, helped by the popularity of "supersize" TVs, which the retailer also sells.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has released the conclusions of a new study into how people's use of banking services is changing in the smartphone age. Among the findings is that online-only or mobile banks are no longer seen as a subsidiary second bank account: 61% of customers (or future customers) of such institutions say they are now ready to use their online banks as their primary account. In France, 21% of people are already customers of an online-only/mobile bank. Orange, of course, has skin in this game: In 2017 it opened the digital doors to Orange Bank, a move made possible by its acquisition of a 65% stake in Groupama Banque the previous year. (See Eurobites: Orange Bank Is Open for Business.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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