Top Stories

March 16, 2020

Health and Philanthropy

Luxury giant LVMH to make hand sanitiser for French hospitals

The French luxury goods group LVMH is to start producing hand sanitiser at three of its perfume and cosmetics factories for distribution to French hospitals fighting the country’s coronavirus outbreak. The gel will be delivered “at no charge” to French health authorities, in particular the 39 public hospitals in Paris. The city’s hospitals have not yet run out of gel but supplies are “strained,” a spokeswoman for the Paris hospital system said, adding that other companies have also said they are ready to donate supplies. Fears of catching the new coronavirus have sparked a run on hand gel across France, with many pharmacies restricting clients to one small bottle per person. The government issued a decree limiting prices after reports some retailers were trying to make extra profit from would-be buyers. Producers across France say they have been hiring workers to meet the soaring demand, as authorities urge stringent hand cleaning among measures to curtail the outbreak. (The Guardian)

Data Ethics

Google accused by rival of fundamental GDPR breaches

A new complaint submitted to the Irish data regulator by niche web browser Brave has accused the tech giant Google of operating an “internal data-free-for-all”. They stated that Google is sharing users’ personal data between its services without acquiring specific consent to do so, breaching fundamental principles of European data protection law. The complaint alleges that Google is taking users’ consent for certain uses of their personal data — for instance location tracking or YouTube history — and applying it to a range of other services that are completely invisible to them, a practice that is illegal under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Irish regulator already has at least two open investigations into Google’s data collection practices, specifically looking at location data and advertisement targeting. GDPR allows regulators to impose fines of up to 4 per cent of a company’s global turnover for the most serious breaches. (Financial Times*)


Uber rival Bolt facing legal action over minimum wage and workers’ rights

Ride-hailing company Bolt, one of Uber’s top rivals in London, is facing legal action over claims it underpaid the minimum wage. The case has been taken against Bolt by employee Andrei Donisa after he was expelled from the platform for refusing to take enough fares. Donisa said he was blocked from using the app by Bolt on the grounds that his acceptance rate for rides was too low even though there were no agreed minimum hours with the company. He said he typically earned £160 a week from Bolt, topping up earnings of £580 from Uber. He ran up expenses of £330, and so he claims he was paid less than the minimum wage of £8.21 per hour. Donisa highlighted that despite claims of “ethical principles”, Bolt provides “no sick pay, no holiday pay and no guaranteed minimum wage”. Bolt’s response has stated that they provide “a high-quality, reliable service” but did not address the claims made against them by Donisa. (The Guardian)


Bill Gates steps down from Microsoft board to focus on philanthropy

Bill Gates, co-founder of technology company Microsoft, has announced he is stepping down from the company’s board, as well as the board of Berkshire Hathaway to spend more time on philanthropic activities. Announcing his latest move, Gates said the company would “always be an important part of my life’s work”. He will continue in his role as technology adviser to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella and other company leaders. Alongside sitting on the boards Gates devotes much of his time to the charitable organisation he set up with his wife, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The couple were named the most generous philanthropists in the US in 2018 by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, after giving $4.8 billion to their foundation the previous year. By stepping away from the boards, Gates hopes to dedicate his time to focus on global health and development, education and tackling climate change. (BBC)


UK Government’s plastics policies could triple packaging emissions

The think tank Green Alliance’s new report, has warned that the UK’s focus on banning single-use plastic items as part of a “piecemeal approach” to plastics pollution could lead to unintended consequences. The think tank claims current legislation could lead to plastics being replaced with equally unnecessary single-use items, rather than promoting durability and reuse. While the report notes the need to combat plastic leakage and microplastic breakdown into the natural environment, it warns that merely replacing one single-use material with another, even if that material can be used over and over, won’t address broader environmental concerns. The Green Alliance is calling for all manufacturing and recycling processes to be bettered through energy efficiency measures. Additionally, they are calling for the Government to implement policies that incentivise the design of products for durability and repairability, ahead of reuse and recycling, in order to minimise material use overall. (edie)


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Image source: person holding white plastic pump by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.