Amazon Alexa, GDPR crackdown, Superdry, Virgin Galactic: your commercial news round-up

updated on 11 July 2019

This week there’s news on struggling clothing chain Superdry and Richard Branson’s ambitious space plans. For more commercial awareness, we’d recommend following this Twitter account which tweets the latest business news stories for aspiring lawyers. And of course make sure you’re signed up to LCN to receive our weekly newsletter direct to your inbox. Find out more below:

  • Amazon Alexa devices will offer health advice to users from this week under a new government-approved partnership with the NHS. The link-up means that the voice-assisted technology will search the official NHS website to provide advice to people who ask questions about their health. The announcement was lauded by those who see the technology as particularly beneficial to elderly and vulnerable people who might not have access to the Internet otherwise, although date protection concerns have been raised by privacy campaigners, including from civil liberty group Big Brother Watch who called the plan “a breathtaking waste”.
  • It’s been over a year since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force and this week the Information Commissioner’s Office used its new powers to penalise British Airways and the Marriott hotel chain for not protecting their customers’ data. British Airways was fined 1.5% of its global turnover for its data breaches, while the data privacy regulator plans to fine the US hotel group £99.2 million.
  • The founder of UK clothing brand Superdry is trying to turn around the company’s fortunes after it reported an £85 million annual loss. After a battle over strategy and financial performance with Superdry’s old management, co-founder Julian Dunkerton this week told a London conference that although there were tough times ahead, he planned to return the brand to its “design-led roots” and return the company to profitability within the next three years.
  • As if owning a travel company, gym chain, rail operator and radio station wasn’t enough, Virgin founder and billionaire Richard Branson has announced his plans to list his new aerospace business Virgin Galactic on the New York stock exchange. The businessman is hoping to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX by becoming the first company to offer commercial passenger flights in space – and 600 people have already paid to be some of the first to do so. Branson believes this – and his own trip into space – could happen as early as next year.


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