IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 22 March
Major telcos fined for spam messages | Just Mobile in dispute with ad agency
The Irish Times reports that Vodafone, O2, Eircom and UPC have been prosecuted for spamming customers with unsolicited text messages and phone calls in breach of the Data Protection Acts. The four companies pleaded guilty to a list of charges related to making unwanted sales calls and sending text messages for direct marketing purposes without the consent of recipients. The cases were brought before the Dublin District Court by the Data Protection Commissioner after complaints by consumers who were subjected to repeated cold calls and unwanted messages after they had expressly asked not to be contacted for marketing purposes.
The paper also says that recent economic events in Ireland have prompted the US Securities and Exchange Commission to ask Google for a more detailed explanation of the relationship between its foreign pretax income and its effective tax rates. According to filings, the SEC informed Google that such "enhanced disclosures" now seem "more relevant" because of recent uncertainty associated with the economic conditions and events in Ireland and Europe. The request was made in a letter to Google on 29 December. A Google spokesman said this was part of a routine review by the SEC of all filings by public companies.
The same paper reports that a major dispute has broken out between advertising agency Owens DDB and Just Mobile, the mobile operator backed by Sean Melly that launched last October. Dublin-based Owens DDB issued a petition for the winding up of the company at the weekend. It is understood this was prompted by the non-payment of fees due to Owens DDB for its role in marketing Just Mobile's launch. The petition is slated to be heard in the High Court on 28 March. Late on Monday night, a spokesman for Just Mobile said "the matter has been resolved".
The paper also says that British media groups opposed to News Corp's proposed buyout of pay-TV firm BSkyB say it is "fanciful" that Rupert Murdoch will not interfere in the running of its influential news station. The media groups, which include the owners of the Guardian and Telegraph newspapers, were responding to a decision by the UK government to allow the controversial deal to proceed as long as News Corp spins off the 24-hour Sky News channel. "It is fanciful to expect that Sky News will enjoy any meaningful independence allowing it to offer a separate contribution to news plurality," the alliance of media groups said in a legal submission.
According to the Financial Times, the head of Intel's Ultra Mobility Group abruptly quit on Monday, dealing another blow to the chipmaker's attempts to penetrate the mobile phone chip market. Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager, announced he was leaving Intel "to pursue other interests". Mike Bell and Dave Whalen will co-manage the Ultra Mobility Group with immediate effect.
The paper also says that the founder of Bebo will this week unveil a new social networking website aimed at encouraging more people to get involved in politics. Jolitics is the first major new venture by Michael Birch since he sold Bebo to AOL for USD850 million in March 2008. After testing for several months in Ireland, Jolitics will launch in the UK ahead of a planned launch in the US later this year.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia is set to roll out a new smartphone with T-Mobile USA. Nokia embarked on a major strategic shift in February, with plans to drop its own Symbian operating system and develop phones based on Microsoft software. But Nokia says those new phones won't ship in large volumes until next year, so it needs to keep nursing Symbian devices along to avoid falling out of the lucrative smartphone market. The Finnish company will launch the C7 smartphone based on the Symbian operating system with T-Mobile USA, according to sources.
The paper also says that Apple has sued Amazon over its use of the phrase "App Store", accusing the online retailer of trademark infringement. In a complaint filed in federal court for the Northern District of California, Apple asked the court for an injunction stopping Amazon from using the name, as well as unspecified damages. "Consumers of mobile software downloads are likely to be confused as to whether Amazon's mobile software download service is sponsored or approved by Apple," Apple said in its complaint.
The same paper reports that France's online privacy watchdog has fined Google EUR100,000 for unfair data collection from wireless networks through the company's Street View mapping service and localisation program Latitude. In May 2010, Google disclosed that the camera-equipped cars it uses to take pictures for Street View had for several years inadvertently collected personal data from unsecured wireless networks across the world. France's Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertes, or CNIL, said that Google hadn't fully complied with its demands from last May over the collection of data, such as disclosing full details of the computer program used to get the information.