Google pays 1m euro fine
Google has paid a 1 million euro (US$1.37 million) fine imposed by Italy’s data protection watchdog over complaints that cars it used to record images on Italian streets in 2010 were not clearly recognizable, the Italian regulator said on Thursday. “Cars belonging to the giant of Mountain View roamed Italy’s streets without being entirely recognizable as such, therefore not allowing the people present in those places to decide whether to be photographed or not,” it said in a statement, referring to Google’s base in Mountain View in California. Google has faced numerous privacy lawsuits in the US and Europe, relating to services including Street View, which gives a panoramic perspective on streets around the world. The fine announced on Thursday relates only to vehicles not being labeled clearly enough.
Economy to pick up: INSEE
France’s economy barely expanded at the start of this year, but growth should pick up, though it is likely to fall short of government forecasts, the national statistics agency said on Thursday. INSEE’s forecasting arm said in its quarterly outlook report that it believes the economy expanded by 0.1 percent in the first quarter. The Bank of France last month forecast 0.2 percent growth for the January to March period. Both forecasts are a slowdown from the 0.3 percent growth rate that France turned in for the final quarter of last year. A first estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product growth is due in May. INSEE expects growth to pick up to 0.3 percent in the second quarter and for the economy to expand 0.7 percent for the year. The government forecasts 0.9 percent growth, while a slower expansion could make it difficult to meet revenue targets and keep promises to the EU on reducing the public deficit.
Exports widen trade deficit
The US trade deficit unexpectedly widened in February as exports hit a five-month low, suggesting first-quarter growth could be much weaker than initially anticipated. Other data on Thursday showed activity in the services sector accelerating last month after being hampered by unusually cold weather. The Commerce Department said the deficit on the trade balance increased 7.7 percent to US$42.3 billion, the largest since September last year. The inflation-adjusted gap widened to US$50.1 billion from US$48.5 billion in January. Economists, who expected the deficit to narrow to $38.5 billion, said trade could slice off as much as half a percentage point from first-quarter gross domestic product. It added about a percentage point to fourth-quarter GDP.
Anadarko to pay US$5bn
Energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp agreed on Thursday to pay more than US$5 billion to clean up areas across the US polluted by nuclear fuel, wood creosote and rocket fuel waste that caused cancer and other health problems. The agreement resolves a long-running lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee energy and chemical company, which Anadarko bought in 2006. The case was brought by a trust representing the US government, 11 state governments, Indian tribes and individuals. The trust sought cleanup costs at more than 2,000 sites and payment for claims from more than 8,000 people who said their exposure to Kerr-McGee’s wood treatment plants in Avoca, Pennsylvania, and Manville, New Jersey, caused cancer, which in some cases led to death.