There will be no top 10 for the next two weeks. Thank you for all your support!

The week’s news included; Epic Games wins lawsuit again Google, Temu sues Shein (again), Advertising regulator issues record number of greenwashing rulings.

Below are our top 10 stories that you need to know about. Be sure to check our twitter page, Facebook page and Instagram Page, for regular posts of important headlines. Get all the important stories and insights straight into your inbox by subscribing to our mailing list here.

Opinion articles of the week: 

  • City A.M. – Debate: Should we accelerate towards a cash-free society?
  • BBC News – No recession, but no take-off for the UK’s economy
  • City A.M. – Let’s be honest, new spy powers could kill off how we use Facetime and iMessage
  • CNBC – Recent data shows AI job losses are rising, but the numbers don’t tell the full story

1. EPIC GAMES WINS MONOPOLY LAWSUIT AGAINST GOOGLE

Epic Games has won its lawsuit against Google over its dominance in the app store space. The maker of Fortnite claimed Google ran an illegal monopoly through anticompetitive restrictions on rivals and app developers. Google’s Android is on roughly 70% of all smartphones globally and almost all apps are downloaded through its Play Store. Epic argued that Google’s 30% commission for in-app purchase was also anticompetitive. Last week, a jury agreed with Epic that Google ran a monopoly. The court will soon be considering compensation for affected parties. Google will appeal the decision and reject Epic’s accusation. The tech giant said that  “Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform.”

2. CREDIT CARD FEE POST-BREXIT CAP

Credit card companies could soon see a cap on fees charged on cross-border payments between the EU and UK. The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) said firms had raised their fees to an “unduly high level” after Brexit. Retailers pay a fee to credit card companies when UK based customers buy from the EU. The EU has a cap on cross-border payment fees but this no longer applies since the UK left the EU. Consequently, Visa and Mastercard hiked their fees significantly, according to the PSR. The PSR believes these increased fees may ultimately be passed onto consumers and seek to rectify this with a cap. The PSR has proposed a 0.2% and 0.3% cap for debit card and credit card transactions respectively. This is the same as the EU’s cap. Despite this, Mastercard and Visa have protested proposals and do not think a cap is justified. 

3. TEMU SUES SHEIN (AGAIN)

Temu has filed a new lawsuit against Shein for alleged “mafia style” intimidation of suppliers and merchants. Shein has allegedly forced merchants to stop selling on Temu and even falsely imprisoned some merchants. This is yet another lawsuit in a series of legal disputes between the two. Temu has also sued Shein for breaching competition law but later dropped this case. Shein had also sued Temu for infringing on its copyrighted material but again this lawsuit was dropped. The Chinese merchants are locked in a constant battle for dominance. 

4. NATWEST REFUTES COUTTS DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS

An independent review found that Coutts did not close customer accounts due to their political views. This followed a scandal beginning in July where Nigel Farage claimed his account was closed due to his views. Ultimately, this led to NatWest CEO Alison Rose resigning. Roughly 900 customers accounts were closed by Coutts over a 24 month period. A sample of closures was reviewed by lawyers at Travers Smiths. The review found no evidence of discrimination due to political views. Furthermore, all decision-making was found to be appropriate and consistent with industry standards. The closure of Mr Farage’s account however, which was considered in the first phase of the review, showed “serious failings”. Coutts’ decision to close the account however, was lawful and mainly commercially driven, according to the review. 

5. ASA ISSUES RECORD NUMBER OF GREEN ADS RULINGS

The Advertising Standards Agency has issued a record number of rulings on ads over green issues. With consumers becoming steadily more green-conscious, retailers and service providers are keen to keep up with the trend. 29 formal rulings on green issues have been conducted in 2023, nearly double the amount in 2022. The ASA said that the rise is due to an increasing number of retailers making green claims in their ads. These rulings are issued when adverts breach ads regulations, often regarding misleading claims. 25 of the issued rulings were upheld and the relevant ads had to be changed or withdrawn. Regulators across the board are prioritising a clampdown on greenwashing, the act of making products or services appear more environmentally friendly or sustainable than they actually are. Check out our article on greenwashing in the fashion industry.

6. TESLA RECALLS 2M CARS

Tesla is recalling 2 million cars in the US over a faulty autopilot feature. An investigation into crashes involving Tesla’s “self-driving” feature found the system was partly defective. The autopilot feature is present in almost every Tesla sold in the US since 2015. Given that it’s a software issue however, Tesla will be able to automatically send an update to each vehicle to rectify the problem. Although vehicles will not be physically recalled to Tesla garages, the US regulator still classifies this update as a recall. Tesla’s in the UK are not equipped with the same autopilot feature. Cars in the UK for public road use are not permitted to include self-driving features.

This news also came as self-driving car firm Cruise announced 900 job cuts. Cruise is facing investigations from regulators after its vehicles injured a number of pedestrians during trials on public roads. The company is owned by General Motors and in October had its driverless vehicle testing permits revoked in California. 

7. NETFLIX RELEASES VIEWING DATA

Netflix has released viewing data for most of its shows for the first time. The streaming giant had previously kept all viewing data hidden both from the public and even studios. This was to prevent sharing data with competitors, according to Netflix. Now, it has released viewing figures for 99% of shows on its platform. This change has been welcomed by those in the industry as it provides much needed transparency. Political thriller The Night Agent was the most viewed show in the first six months of 2023. Users collectively watched the show for 812 million hours. In total, users watched over 100 billion hours of shows on Netflix. Netflix boasts 250 million users and has been seeking to better monetise its user base.

8. BOE KEEPS RATES STEADY

The Bank of England has voted to hold interest rates at 5.25%. Interest rates remain at their 15 year high after 14 consecutive hikes. Unlike the Federal Reserve in the US, the Bank of England said it was too early to say when interest rates might be cut. The Federal Reserve signalled that rates may be cut from 2024 in the US. Inflation has sank significantly from its highs of over 10%. UK inflation sits at 4.6%, still higher than the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%. The Bank has said that rates would need to remain high until this is achieved. 

9. SMILE DIRECT CLUB BANKRUPTCY 

Remote dentistry firm Smile Direct Club has fallen into bankruptcy. Two weeks ago, a rescue deal failed to relieve it from its enormous $900 million debt pile. The company provided dentistry services such as teeth straightening and whitening at low prices. Despite this, the company  had never made a profit .At its peak Smile Direct Club was listed on NASDAQ and was worth $8.9 billion.

Smile Direct Club faced staunch criticism as it didn’t shut down its system after its collapse. Many users still found themselves able to make payments on the app, despite the announcement that the firm had filed for bankruptcy. Customers due refunds could receive them if and when the company is liquidated. These customers however, will be unlikely to receive anything and will be last in line behind lenders and other priority creditors.

10. META LAUNCHES THREADS IN THE EU

Meta has finally launched Threads in the EU, five months after its initial launch in the rest of the world. Stringent rules on the collection and use of data in the EU is speculated to be the reason for the delay. The EU Digital Services Act came into effect from August and introduced new requirements on big tech firms. Meta said it was down to “upcoming regulatory uncertainty” but did not elaborate any further. 

The launch may be too little too late for Threads which has failed to capture users’ imagination. Despite gaining 100 million users in the first week, this number halved in the following 2 weeks. Although the introduction of new features has seen numbers climb, its adoption rate remains disappointingly low. There’s over 1 billion Instagram users and although Instagram is directly linked to Threads, fewer than 10% of these users have adopted it.