Welcome back to our Weekly Roundup where we share headlines and brief summaries of notable news stories from around the world, along with a link for those seeking further information.

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U.K. collapses into record recession

As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, data released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the U.K. indicated that the U.K. was officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years.

A recession, in economic terms, is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. But that term alone doesn’t address the scale of the crash currently hitting the U.K.

As the graph below shows, the current contraction dwarfs that of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).

Source: Office for National Statistics (U.K.)

Putting a slightly more positive spin on things, the ONS said the economy bounced back in June as government restrictions on movement started to ease.

On a month-on-month basis, the economy grew by 8.7% in June, after growth of 1.8% in May.

But Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics, said: “Despite this, gross domestic product (GDP) in June still remains a sixth below its level in February, before the virus struck.”

You can read a report from the BBC by clicking here, or read the full release from the Office of National Statistics by clicking here.

Mastercard on the hunt for more M&A

In a recent interview with LinkedIn news, Mastercard’s next CEO Michael Miebach signalled that his company would be continuing its diversification through mergers and acquisitions.

When asked whether Mastercard would continue its recent spate of acquisitions, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, Miebach said:

“The fact that we have fared fairly well through this crisis is because we have been diversifying over the last 10 years away from a focus on a particular type of transaction and essentially consumer-card products. So, we will continue to do that, for exactly that reason.”

“It still remains that we run the business for the long term, and if we see an opportunity right now or a market need, we will continue to participate in M&A. The areas broadly remain the same: open banking, real-time payments, data analytics, and cyber.”

You can read the full interview on LinkedIn News by clicking here.

Irish doctor says emergency legislation is needed to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the state

An influential doctor is calling on the State to pass emergency legislation to fight the spread of Covid-19 amid fears “reckless” behaviour may have influenced 1,100 cases in just 14 days.

Dr Gabriel Scally, who authored the report into the CervicalCheck controversy, said in an interview with the Irish Independent that the Dáil must pass legislation to enable the State to take action against any businesses aiding the spread of the virus through neglect.

Dr Scally said: “The Government needs to take extremely strong action when anyone is putting others at risk, as this is verging on criminal activity because lives are at stake.”

“The State can alter the law, pass emergency legislation to take away people’s licences, close businesses who are not protecting public health, including pubs.”

You can read the full article in the Irish Independent by clicking here.

Kennedys introduce virtual work experience programme

Law firm Kennedys, which has a global presence including office in Dublin and Belfast, recently launched a virtual work experience programme to dramatically increase the number of students who could experience a taste of life at the firm.

In a press release the firm says that “some 2,180 students have already signed up to it, compared to the 120 spots that are usually available for in-person work experience.”

“The four-module programme offers real work experience as participants complete a variety of tasks to gain legal analytical skills, develop legal knowledge of the insurance industry, and learn critical legal communication, research and drafting skills.”

The press release from Kennedys, and details on how to apply, can be found by clicking here.

Tech giants being sued for GDPR breaches

The Times in the U.K. reported last Friday that two technology companies were being sued for £900 million over claims that internet cookies are being traded unlawfully.

Campaigners filed a legal claim on Friday 14 August against Oracle and Salesforce in Amsterdam and say that they will lodge a similar action at the High Court in London in the month.

The claim accuses the companies of processing and sharing data harvested from the internet in a move that breaches European Union data protection rules.

Representatives of the Privacy Collective, a non-profit organisation that is bringing the class action, accuses Oracle and Salesforce of collecting the personal data of internet users and then sharing it through “real-time bidding”.

That process is described as a behind-the-scenes auction in which consumer profiles are put up for sale.

Salesforce and Oracle have both disagreed with the claim.

A spokesperson for Oracle said: “The Privacy Collective knowingly filed a meritless action based on deliberate misrepresentations of the facts.”

“As Oracle previously informed the Privacy Collective, Oracle has no direct role in the real-time bidding process (RTB), has a minimal data footprint in the EU, and has a comprehensive GDPR compliance program. Oracle will vigorously defend against these baseless claims.”

You can read the full report from The Times by clicking here (paywall) or read a summary of the case from Irish Legal News by clicking here (non-paywall).

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