Top Stories

September 09, 2016


Airbnb adopts rules to fight discrimination by its hosts

Airbnb, the short-term rental website, has taken actions to combat discrimination in its business practices. After receiving criticism for the ease with which its hosts can reject potential renters based on race, age, gender or other factors, the company has reviewed how discrimination might creep into the site. Following the review, rental hosts have been told that they needed to agree to a “community commitment” and a new non-discrimination policy. The company also said that it would try to reduce the prominence of user photographs, which indicate race and gender, and that it would accelerate the use of instant bookings, which let renters book places immediately without host approval. Among the other changes is a new full-time anti-discrimination team of engineers, data scientists and researchers, whose job includes discerning patterns of host behaviour. (The New York Times)


Australia to triple solar capacity with ‘historic’ $92m backing for 12 projects

Australia is set to triple its energy generation from large scale solar farms following the government’s announcement of AUS $92 million of funding for the construction of 12 new PV projects across the country. The 12 projects were chosen as part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)’s latest large-scale solar funding round, and are expected to unlock almost $1 billion of commercial investment and boost regional Australian economies. It is also expected that the scheme will deliver 10 per cent of the new capacity required to meet Australia’s 2020 renewable energy target, while also creating 2,300 direct jobs. ARENA has hailed the development as a “major milestone” and suggests the projects could be completed by the end of 2017. (BusinessGreen)


Green groups concerned over waste impacts of iPhone 7

The release of the next generation of US tech giant Apple’s iPhone has come under the scrutiny of environmental think tank Green Alliance. The concerns arise over the removal of the universal headphone jack on the phone. Green Alliance, alongside London-based waste removal firm Enviro Waste, believe that this action could generate 7,000 tonnes of e-waste, as customers may discard headphones that are obsolete with the new product. While Apple recently-launched a gadget trade-in scheme, the company does not currently offer any headphone recycling options or takeback schemes for customers. (edie)

Corporate Reputation

MasterCard sued for £14bn in largest ever British legal claim

Credit card group MasterCard is being sued for £14 billion, the largest legal claim in British history, in a landmark lawsuit over allegations that it overcharged 46 million UK consumers. The claim revolves around fees imposed by MasterCard on businesses that accepted its debit and credit cards between 1992 and 2008. Law firm Quinn Emanuel, which filed the suit on behalf of around 46 million consumers, alleges that these charges were set at an unlawfully high level. The claim, which MasterCard said it would oppose vigorously, is the first major case under a new framework for class action lawsuits on behalf of multiple claimants. (The Guardian)


US bank Wells Fargo fined $185m for opening illegal accounts

The US’ biggest bank Wells Fargo has been fined $185 million for illegally opening accounts to boost sales targets. The money will go to regulators, while the bank will also hand back $5 million to customers. The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the fine and said the bank must also hire an independent consultant for a review. Its investigation found that to meet sales targets and possibly gain more compensation, bank workers had “illegally” signed up customers for more than two million deposit and credit-card accounts. Employees also issued debit cards without customers’ knowledge and created fake email addresses to unknowingly sign up consumers to online-banking services. (BBC News)


Image source: Iphone 7, by Jan-Willem Reusink: CC BY 2.0