Europe, Middle East and Africa

Data Protection Compliance Faces Increased Auditing
Information Security, Privacy and Data Protection

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has released Highways Agency Data Protection Audit Report: Executive Summary (July 2011), finding that “arrangements for data protection compliance with regard to governance and controls provide a reasonable assurance that processes and procedures are in place and being adhered to”. Nonetheless, recommendations were made to improve aspects of compliance monitoring, controls of portable storage media, and management of electronic files.
(Source: ICO)

UAR Investigates Grocery “Price Gouging”
Competition, Consumer Protection

Gulf News reports that authorities in the United Arab Emirates are investigating consumer complaints of price gouging at small convenience stores and groceries. Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development consumer protection representative Khalifa Al Beloushi reportedly said that “residents compare prices between small groceries and big supermarkets and wonder why they have to pay more in the groceries” and that the Department will conduct a “thorough investigation on a case by case basis” to determine why this is the case. Meanwhile, small grocery business owners reportedly opined that the claims were “unfair”, because supermarkets “get huge discounts and various offers on bulk purchases from suppliers” that smaller stores do not have access to.
Gulf News: Abu Dhabi investigates consumer complaints against small groceries (1 August 2011)
(Source: Gulf News)

Competitors Abandon Anti-Trust Claim Against IBM

Reuters reports that rival companies T3 Technologies Inc, Neon Enterprise Software and TurboHercules have dropped their antitrust complaints against International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). The companies had reportedly previously complained that IBM tied the sales of its mainframe computers to IBM operating systems. According to Reuters, the European Commission commenced an investigation in response to the complaints in July 2010, the outcome of which is now uncertain.
Reuters: Three firms drop EU antitrust complaints against IBM (3 August 2011)
(Source: Reuters)

Frozen Foods Merger Faces Freezing
Competition, Consumer Protection

The UK Competition Commission (CC) has announced the release of a statement of issues (3 August 2011) as part of its investigation into the completed acquisition of the frozen ready meals business of Headland Foods Limited (Headland) by Kerry Foods Limited (Kerry). Headland and Kerry are “by far the two largest suppliers” of own-brand frozen ready meals to retailers in the UK, prompting the CC to examine whether the merger will “result in a substantial lessening of competition” and if so, what the appropriate remedy should be.
CC’s media release (3 August 2011)
(Source: CC)

News Corp Criticized for Lack of Transparency
Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Conflicts of Interest, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

Bloomberg reports that News Corporation faces scrutiny over the Management and Standards Committee it recently established to deal with the fall-out of the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the media empire in July 2011. According to Bloomberg, corporate governance experts have criticised the committee’s lack of independence and transparency, given that two members were executives at News International throughout the hacking scandal. Yale University School of Management Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld reportedly said that News Corporation should have appointed independent investigators, and that the company “has a history, obviously, of disappointing internal reviews”.
Bloomberg: Murdoch’s News Corp. Cleanup Effort Draws Fire Over Independence, Mandate (5 August 2011)

In related news, Bloomberg reports that UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has called for custodial sentences to be imposed for using stolen personal data, to discourage the actions leading to the recent phone-hacking scandal.
Bloomberg: Phone-Hacking Shows Jail Needed for Data Theft, U.K. Privacy Chief Says (30 July 2011) 
(Source: Bloomberg)