Weekly Media Law Roundup, April 26th

Welcome to this week’s Media Law Roundup, a summary of developing media law and policy news.

Germany fines Google over data collection

A German privacy regulator fined Google €145,000 ($188,700 USD) for illegal collection of personal data while developing the Street View mapping service. Data protection supervisor Johannes Caspar has said the fine, which was near the €150,000 ($195,000 USD) maximum allowed by law, is inadequate and unlikely to dissuade large companies from illegally collecting personal data.

The same data protection agency discovered that Google was collecting personal data from Wi-Fi routers in 2010. After Google admitted they had inadvertently collected the information, a number of other countries and states investigated and also found Google’s data collection to be in violation of privacy laws, resulting in several fines and apologies from the tech giant.

The European Union continues to debate how to approach privacy issues. Many countries, such as Germany and France, want to raise maximum fines to up to 2% of a corporation’s revenue from the year before. However a few countries, particularly Britain, continue to lobby for lighter regulations, even suggesting the regulations merely be voluntary. Britain has been the biggest opponent to stronger digital privacy laws within the European Union and earlier this month attempted to opt out of an article of the Data Protection Regulation that would require a company to respect an individual’s request to have their personal data removed from a site.

Kuwait postpones new media regulations

Kuwait postponed procedures to implement new media regulations after the country’s prime minister admitted pressure from advocacy groups may force Kuwait to abandon plans to impose the laws. The draft laws would have allowed authorities to fine reporters and journalistic organizations almost $1 million for insulting the emir or his family. Authorities in the Gulf nation have been fighting with opposition groups for years to increase regulation over the media. Several other Persian Gulf Countries, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have implemented laws giving authorities more power over limiting journalistic freedoms in each nation.

Wall Street pushes exemptions to state social media monitoring laws

The US financial industry’s largest regulator, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), has asked several states to consider provisions allowing Wall Street brokers and dealers to monitor non-personal social media information. FINRA wants to ensure that when stockbrokers talk about stocks through social media they comply with their companies’ policies. Several states are considering laws that would prohibit businesses and organization from asking their employees for social media account information or forcing them to connect or “friend” human resources or other supervisors.

Another regulatory organization, The Security Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), said they do not have any interest in tracking personal data or communications, but they need to ensure that securities professionals are compliant with all of a company’s policies. Research has shown that up to 60% of financial services professionals with social media accounts use them for professional purposes.

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