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Weekly News Roundup: Fashion Workers’ Rights, EU Auto Emissions

Female labor workers in a clothes factory in Huaibei, Anhui province, east China.

Norsk Hydro investigates ransomware attack

Norsk Hydro's cybersecurity analysts believe that hackers used a form of ransomware known as LockerGaga cyberattack in March that crippled the company's global operations. Most of the Norwegian aluminum and energy company's production has returned to normal, but some administrative tasks are still delayed, the company said.

The attackers disguised themselves as legitimate users on the network, analysts found, but investigators still don't know how attackers accessed the system. So far, the attack has cost the company at least 300 million Norwegian krone (about US$35 million). Norsk Hydro did not pay a ransom to restore its operations, the company's chief financial officer said.

LockerGoga hit three other companies recently, cybersecurity researchers said. French engineering firm Altran Technologies SA was attacked in January, and US chemical companies Hexion and Momentive Performance Materials were hacked in March.

Australian fashion brands urged to improve workers' rights

Australian fashion brands are becoming increasingly transparent about how they make their clothes, according to the latest Ethical Fashion Report, published by Baptist World Aid. Yet the report found that there is still more to be done on workers' rights, paying a living wage, and reducing a company's environmental impact.

The report surveyed more than 130 companies producing 480 brands. Twenty-four of the 130 companies achieved an A rating (from A– up to A+). Top-ranked fashion brands included Outland Denim, Etiko, Mighty Good Undies, Freeset T-shirts, Icebreaker, and Liminal Apparel. But, according to John Hickey, the chief executive of Baptist World Aid Australia, 34 companies were graded D+ or lower.

EC charges carmakers with collusion to block emissions-cleaning technology

BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen have been charged with colluding to block the rollout of emissions-cleaning technology. The European Commission said it had sent objections to the companies setting out the charges, nearly two years after carrying out dawn raids at their premises. The commission said the collusion occurred between 2006 to 2014 and took place during the carmakers' technical meetings.

Australian regulators slowly embrace AI to boost compliance

Australian regulators are cautiously using artificial intelligence (AI) to address criticism about a lack of compliance across the financial sector. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is funding pilot studies to explore how natural-language-processing technology could spot misconduct and improve regulation.

One pilot program entails the deployment of software to examine financial planning documentation, online promotions, and ads to guarantee they do not include problematic advice, or violate rules. Separately, AI will be used to track and screen conversations between insurance agents and consumers to detect potential "hard sell" tactics, or non-compliance with disclosure regulations.

Hyundai Motor and Tencent partner to develop self-driving cars software

Hyundai Motor signed a preliminary deal with Chinese technology firm Tencent Holdings to develop software for driverless vehicles. The two companies plan to conduct joint research and development on safety and security systems for self-driving automobiles, which the South Korean automaker hopes to roll out to consumers by 2030. The two companies are also exploring ways to utilize Tencent's popular WeChat messaging app to develop China-targeted car models.

Boycott of Brunei forming over new anti-gay laws

A number of companies are boycotting businesses owned by the kingdom of Brunei, after the country implemented new laws making gay sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. TV Choice magazine announced that the annual TV Choice Awards would no longer take place at London's Dorchester Hotel, which operates under the Dorchester Collection brand, a luxury chain owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank announced that its employees would no longer use Dorchester hotels on company business. Several celebrities have also called for a boycott of nine hotels owned by the country, which include Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, Principe di Savoia in Milan, and Le Meurice in Paris. Brunei, a tiny country on the island of Borneo, first announced the new anti-LGBT laws in 2014, and they came into effect on April 3.

Fiat and Tesla pool forces to comply with new EU emissions rules

To avoid paying fines for violating new EU emissions rules, Fiat Chrysler says it has agreed to a plan to team up with Tesla. Under the deal, Fiat will pay for the right to count Tesla's electric vehicles as part of Fiat's fleet.

By pooling their vehicles, the Italian carmaker will be able to report a lower average emission figure. New rules come into force in 2020 in the European Union, imposing an average emissions limit of 95g per kilometer. To meet that target, carmakers can pool the models within their own companies to come up with an average emissions figure, or form so-called open pools with other carmakers.

About the Author

Wendy R. Leibowitz is a freelance contributor. Her work has appeared in the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, and Chronicle of Higher Education.

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