Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 21, 2018

The FTC will question Facebook over Cambridge Analytica's data access, lawmakers scramble to reach a spending deal, and more

1

FTC to question Facebook on Cambridge Analytica data access

Facebook said Tuesday that the Federal Trade Commission had warned the company that it would get a letter this week with questions about data that Cambridge Analytica collected on Facebook users. The data firm, which did work on contract for President Trump's campaign, accessed data on more than 50 million Facebook users in 2014, but Facebook failed to notify users. Facebook also faces questions from U.S. and European lawmakers. The FTC is reviewing whether Facebook is in compliance with a 2011 consent decree regarding its privacy protections. "We remain strongly committed to protecting people's information. We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have," Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said. The scandal has dragged down the company's stock price this week.

2

Disagreements delay spending deal to avoid year's 3rd government shutdown

Congressional Republicans continued talks early Wednesday on a $1.2 trillion spending bill just days ahead of a deadline to avoid the year's third government shutdown. Lawmakers were aiming to unveil a deal Tuesday night, but they remained stuck on disagreements over immigration, border security, tax breaks, and other policies. Both the House and Senate must pass the legislation, which would keep the government open through September, by midnight Friday. Potentially complicating plans is a winter storm moving through the Washington, D.C., region; a snow day would give lawmakers even less time to review the bill. Still, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, expressed optimism about the bill's passage: "No shutdowns," he said Tuesday morning. "You heard it here first."

3

Fed expected to end two-day meeting with interest-rate hike

Federal Reserve policymakers wrap up a two-day meeting on Wednesday, and they are widely expected to raise interest rates as part of an ongoing effort to unwind their stimulus program as the economy improves. The meeting is the first under new Chairman Jerome Powell, who has signaled he will continue with the gradual interest rate increases started under former chair Janet Yellen. Investors and economists will focus on signals in the Fed's statement on whether to expect a change in the pace of the hikes in response to the GOP tax cuts and other recent developments. U.S. stock futures edged down early Wednesday as cautious investors awaited news from the Fed.

4

Orbitz says hack exposed 880,000 payment cards

Travel site Orbitz said Tuesday that one of its older websites had been hacked, and that personal information of customers who made payments online in 2016 and 2017 might have been exposed. Orbitz said 880,000 payment cards might have been affected. The compromised data could include names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers, email addresses, gender, and card information, but not Social Security numbers. Orbitz discovered the breach on March 1 and said its current website wasn't affected. The company is offering anyone affected a free year of credit monitoring and identity protection.

5

United suspends pet cargo service after dog's death

United Airlines said Tuesday that it was suspending its pet cargo service, PetSafe, as it reviewed the program after the death of a dog last week in an overhead compartment on a flight from Houston to New York. A flight attendant had insisted that a passenger put her dog, which was in a Transportation Security Administration-approved pet carrier, into the compartment. Passengers heard the dog bark during the flight but did not realize it was in distress until too late. "I held her baby as the mother attempted to resuscitate their 10-month-old puppy," one passenger posted on Facebook. United had 18 animal deaths in 2017, the most among U.S. airlines for the third straight year.

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