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Weekly News Roundup: Germany Cracks Down on Facebook, Canada Deals with Frozen Cryptocurrencies

F acebook is in trouble again with Europe, but not for privacy. In the compliance world, Canadian regulators are researching how millions of cryptocurrency might have disappeared, and US lawmakers are creating new workplace sexual harassment regulations.

Germany cracks down on Facebook

Bundeskartellamt, the German antitrust watchdog, has prohibited Facebook from combining user data from different sources or third-party apps. For example, users on Instagram and WhatsApp (both of which are Facebook-owned) must give consent directly in those apps in order for Facebook to collect that data.

Although Facebook has recently had problems with privacy, this is the first ruling addressing antitrust and competition. The tech giant controls 95 percent of the social media market in Germany. The European Commission is “closely following the work of the Bundeskartellamt,” and other EU countries could follow suit.

Counsel along for the ride in Nissan CEO scandal

Former Renault CEO and Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been accused of using company funds to pay for his wedding reception at the Chateau de Versailles. This is not the executive’s first ethics scandal. Ghosn was arrested in Tokyo in November last year for financial misconduct during his tenure as CEO and chairman at Nissan.

Greg Kelly, his lawyer and fellow Nissan board member, was also charged and detained. Kelly’s arrest demonstrates that general counsel and chief legal officers must be the “gatekeepers” of corporate misconduct to prevent their bosses — and themselves — from serving jail time.

Both Ghosn and Kelly deny the charges.

Frozen Canadian cryptocurrencies

Millions of dollars invested in QuadrigaCX — a Canadian cryptocurrency company — are reportedly frozen after founder Gerald Cotten died in December of last year. He is the only one who apparently had the password to the CA$250 million in assets. The 30-year-old reportedly died from Chron’s disease complications while visiting India.

Some cryptocurrency analysts have questioned if the money even exists, claiming Cotton moved the funds to different cryptocurrency exchanges. Canadian security commissions do not regulate the QuadrigaCX and are looking into the incident to protect its investors.

Regulations finally reflecting #MeToo movement

In the #MeToo era, workplace harassment reporting and enforcement have become central to compliance practices. At least 11 US states, from California to Vermont, have passed new workplace harassment laws — and many of them go into effect in 2019.

Diversity now

US law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath announced that its 2019 partner class will consist of five women and four men; one of the men is African-American. Eight of the partnership class became parents during their time at the firm, including seven who took family leave. Nearly half of Drinker Biddle’s 41 new partners selected over the past five years have been women.

This news comes two weeks after 170 US general counsel wrote an open letter on LinkedIn demanding for increased diversity in their outside firms. 

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