Tag Archives: EU

Facebook Dodges New EU Privacy Regulations

Amidst apologies over mishandling user data and the affirmation that the company is “offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live,” the social network recently confirmed plans to shift all users outside the European Union (EU) to a Terms of Service agreement governed by US regulation. Currently, EU users agree to Terms of Service (ToS) under Irish law as the majority of Facebook’s EU user base is located in Ireland.

The move comes after EU announced plans to roll out a new, “game changing” policy aimed at protecting user privacy. The new regulations, dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), would fine companies that breach user privacy up to 4% of their annual profits. For Facebook, that would mean about $1.6 billion dollars based on 2017 reports.

Earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would adhere “in spirit” to GDPR guidelines worldwide, but he did not confirm if this meant that US users would receive the same protection as those in the EU. The GDPR would affect up to 70% of Facebook’s user base, and moving users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America from non-EU to US-governed terms and conditions would exempt Facebook from following GDPR guidelines. The social platform opened operations in Ireland in 2008, taking advantage of low corporate tax rates.

Under the new EU regulations— which will take effect next month— Facebook will have to ask users for permission to use their information for advertising purposes, but there will be no option to decline. This means that Facebook will continue to use their own data on user behavior in order to show targeted ads, and users will have to accept these terms via “permission screens” in order to view certain content.

According to a April 17th Facebook blog post, “People in the EU will start seeing these requests this week to ensure they have made their choices ahead of GDPR coming into effect on May 25. As part of our phased approach, people in the rest of the world will be asked to make their choices on a slightly later schedule, and we’ll present the information in ways that make the most sense for other regions.” However, Tuesday’s announcement about shifting users to ToS governed by US legislation raises questions about the motives behind the move as doing so means that Facebook will not be subject to GDPR sanctions.

In the US, a complaint filed on April 6 with the Federal Trade Commission accused Facebook of abusing user privacy through facial recognition practices after changes made this year to the site’s privacy policy allowed the company to scan photos for biometric data without consent.

Addressing reporters at Facebook corporate offices, Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said that “Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches” but the option to opt-out completely will not be available. Sherman also added that “People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want.”

Last week, Ben Swann reported in a Reality Check episode about issues of privacy and data collection that were widely publicized following the news of personal data mishandling by Cambridge Analytica.




Vivane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission and the longest serving Brussels commissioner is ringing out a call across Europe for a “True political union” to be put on the agenda for EU elections this spring.

The campaign for the EU (European Union) to become a “United States of Europe” will be the “best weapon against the Euro-skeptics.”


“We need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a “Senate” of Member States,” says Ms. Reding. Many in the EU and similar institutions share her vision. The vision would transform the EU into a “superstate” and would relegate individual national governments and parliments to a minor role. Ms. Reding’s vision holds the European Commission supreme over governments, and individual sovereignty would be a thing of the past.

UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, a “tea-party” like political group in England, has gained tremendous steam in the last two years as Brits bristle at waves of third world immigrants pouring into their country. Nigel Farage is their now famous leader. He issued a statement from UKIP saying that Ms. Reding has revealed the true choice for British voters to make at their polling stations.

“For people in power in Brussels, that is the only choice they offer, no reform, just a “United States of Europe.” On May 22, the British people must ask themselves if they want this, and vote accordingly,” said UKIP leader Nigel Farage. “I am sure people will say No to this centralist fanaticism.”

Ms. Reding’s vision illustrates the growing gulf between the commitment to an “ever closer union” in Europe; and Britain which is pushing to reduce the EU’s powers. An EU official said, “we assume Britain is leaving the EU, so we don’t even bother thinking about British sensitivities at the moment.”

“This debate is moving into the decision phase. In a little more than four month’s time, citizens across Europe will be able to choose the Europe they want to live in,” said Ms. Reding. “There is a lot at stake. The outcome of these elections will shape Europe for years to come. That is why voting is so crucial,” Ms. Reding continued.

The European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, said that the EU would use the memory of the troubles of WWI to warn against the yearning for Euro-skepticism, far-Right movements, and populist anti-Euro movements. He said leaning towards these separatists movements could lead to war in Europe again.
“No other political construction to date has proven to be a better way of organizing life to lessen the barbarity in this world.”

British papers are reacting severely today against Ms. Reding’s federalist leanings. They say she has ambitions to be the President of the European Commission and she simply sees herself as the head of this new union.

The Eurozone financial crisis, along with Europe’s immigrant woes, are causing nations to question how they benefit from a more tightly knit Europe.

IMF Floats Idea To Levy 10% Tax on Europeans Assets


The IMF’s Oct. 13 report, “Fiscal Monitor -Taxing Times”, discusses how to solve Europe’s sovereign debt problem.

What they recommend is shocking to some, and ringing alarm bells around the finance world.

Sovereign nations are facing shortages of tax revenues, and public finance is in shambles.  Multi-national corporations have offshored their assets to avoid paying taxes.   The IMF report addresses ideas of how to tax the dodgers that are hurting public finance.


Back on Wednesday, September 4th, Reuters reportered that Poland was going to move 50% ($47.6 Billion) of privately held pension funds into the State’s custody and books because Poland had maxed out it’s legal ratios to borrow.

New York Times ran a piece on October 11 that confirms Reuters September 4th story.  Indications are that all systems are go on the Poland pension pilfering.

Bloomberg reported on Oct. 10 that a Polish asset manager with $20 Billion under advisement, Marcin Zoltek, says investment suitability will become a problem for these Polish pension dollars.  So pensioners may lose their assets in a bad market due to unsuitable investment choices made by the government.

Forbes reports that the move to seize $47.6 Billion (about half) of all Polish people’s private retirement funds has been roundly criticized by US watchers and the markets in general.


This follows the March 26th Cyprus bail-in, which amounted to confiscation of bank deposits with more than $100,000 EUR in the account.

A July 28 agreement between Cyprus and it’s international lenders including IMF & European Central Bank,  put 47.5% of deposits exceeding $100,000 EUR into equity shares of the bank.


Reports came out in Reuters and New York Times on Thurday, October 3rd that Prime Minister Medvedev announced a pension system overhaul.  The overhaul will involve holding $7.6 Billion in private pension assets into state coffers for a one year holding period, while officials run an investigation into the private pension system.  Some say the government is broke and they will use the assets to improve their debt ratios.


Well, the IMF is noticing it’s European member nations are broke.  But their Oct. 13th report has some solutions: take 10% from everyone in the EU, one time! All households with positive net wealth—everyone with retirement savings or home equity—would have their assets plundered under the IMF’s formulation.

From the IMF report:


This may restore public finance to pre-2007 debt levels.


And just in case banks in the US faltered again, the FDIC and Bank of England already have bail-in plans for depositors.  Much like Cyprus, money over a certain amount would be confiscated, and converted to bank shares.

Our public revenue will always be safe, because we issue the world’s currency.  When the time comes that a new world currency goes in circulation, America will possibly face the same austerity measures.

What’s a girl to do?  Keep her money in a shoe?  Of course, credit unions are an alternative.