Tech Business Week: Schrems, scandal and a potential Dell-EMC merger

12 Oct 2015

Max Schrems. Photo via Institute of Network Cultures/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

This past week in tech business news saw a landmark ruling on the Schrems case from the European Court of Justice, more scandal for car manufacturers, and concerns around how a Dell-EMC merger will impact Irish jobs.

Last week, all the big tech players were in the news. Apple acquired AI experts Perceptio, Facebook announced plans for a satellite to connect sub-Saharan Africa to the internet, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project promised faster-loading articles for mobile web browsers, and Amazon challenged Etsy with a new e-commerce store for artisans.

Concerns emerged over Twitter’s growth in the US, despite moves in Dublin to the contrary, while the least surprising news of the week came as co-founder Jack Dorsey was officially named the company’s new CEO.

Meanwhile, the Startup Gathering fired up hundreds of entrepreneurial events across the country, including the launch of a new incubator for Galway and the opening of applications for the second Fintech Innovation Lab Dublin.

Dell’s rumoured EMC interest affects 6,000 Irish jobs

The rumours surrounding a mega tech merger between Dell and EMC has thrown up question marks over the future operations of both businesses in Ireland, where thousands are employed across numerous sites.

The deal seems to be tied to a belief that EMC-owned VMware may spin off into its own operation, which means around 6,000 employees (3,000 at EMC, 2,300 at Dell and 700 at VMware) are wondering where their futures lie.

Cork will receive the brunt of the worry as EMC’s Centre of Excellence there takes up the vast majority of its Irish employees, and VMware’s 700-strong workforce is in Cork, too.

VW emissions scandal shows no sign of reducing speed

In the biggest scandal to hit the car industry in decades, the Volkswagen (VW) emissions story – that has seen 1m tonnes of pollutants hidden, millions of cars affected and many a job lost – has now seen more manufacturers linked.

The Guardian alleges that four more car manufacturers have vehicles emitting “significantly more pollution on the road” then in regulatory tests. This adds Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi to The Guardian’s previous allegations that Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep also produce higher NOx emissions than stated.

Last week, Volkswagen in Ireland launched a website for owners of the 80,000 vehicles that may be affected.

Bye bye Safe Harbour – ECJ says DPC must act on Schrems

Last week, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) landed a fairly heavy blow to the now much-maligned EU-US data transfer Safe Harbour agreement.

In a case that was going to have significant fallout no matter which way the ECJ decided, the landmark ruling came down that local privacy watchdogs can check on resident US companies’ data protection measures, which will cause chasms in the EU and consternation across the Atlantic.

For a comprehensive overview from a legal perspective, check out Mason Hayes & Curran’s key points from the case.

EU digital commissioner calls for single digital market

In other European business news, Günther Oettinger, the digital commissioner for the EU, called for a single market for digital services in Europe as a way to compete with Asia and the US.

Speaking at a broadband conference in Germany, Oettinger called for national borders to be lifted to strengthen the digital competitiveness of European companies.

However, a stumbling block may be – you guessed it – the ECJ ruling in the Schrems case.

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Max Schrems image via Institute of Network Cultures/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)