San Fernando Valley Business Journal 200

Every year, The San Fernando Valley Business Journal publishes a book listing the 200 most influential people in the region, including the San Fernando Valley, Simi Valley, and Antelope Valley. We would like to recognize our CEO Tim Gaspar for making the list, once again. Tim has called the San Fernando Valley his home his entire life and strives to help local organizations and improve the community.

Tim's profile in publication

You can find the recent publication here.
Do not disturb while driving iPhone feature

Stop distracted driving

There has been a historic surge in U.S. traffic fatalities over the last four years as more drivers use their phones to respond to texts or scroll through Instagram feeds. Even parents can’t keep keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, new research shows.

Half of all parents use their cellphones while driving with young children in the car, according to a study released Thursday by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. About a third of parents reported reading text messages, one in four sent text messages and one in seven used social media over the last three months while driving children between the ages of 4 and 10 in a moving vehicle.

The study was conducted in 2017 from a national sample of 760 parents and caregivers of children aged 4 to 10.

It’s not a surprise, given that American adults use smartphones “almost constantly” throughout the day. Seventy-seven percent now own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center.

“Engaging with a cellphone inherently takes our attention away from the roadway,” said Catherine McDonald, a senior fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who co-authored the study. “As technology rapidly changes and accelerates, we need to intervene.”

Parents who reported using their phone while driving young children in a moving vehicle were more likely to have demonstrated other risky behaviors, including driving under the influence, not using a seatbelt and not using proper child restraint systems, according to the study.

“Deterring cellphone use while driving is going take a multi-pronged approach,” McDonald said, pointing to increased law enforcement, insurance penalties and health-education counseling as possible solutions. But thus far, insurance companies and police departments have been fairly lenient in terms of identifying and punishing distracted drivers. Laws banning the use of hand-held phones have also had little effect.

Beyond the immediate consequences, McDonald said she’s worried that parents who text and drive may encourage their children to model that behavior when they eventually take the wheel.

“We want to help parents understand the risk associated with these behaviors,” McDonald said. “Parents want to keep children safe, but this behavior places their children at crash risk.”

The above article is from Claims Journal and can be found here.

At Gaspar, we recommend using “Do not disturb while driving” on iPhones, to minimize distractions while on the road. There are also many apps in the marketplace for iPhones and androids that have the same basic effect. We encourage you to find the best option for your device and needs. Please see below for instructions on using the Do not disturb while driving feature on iPhones.

How to use the Do Not Disturb while driving feature

With iOS 11, your iPhone can sense when you might be driving and prevent notifications.

The first time your iPhone running iOS 11 senses that you might be driving, it shows a description of the Do Not Disturb while driving feature after you stop. (This description appears only in certain countries; if it doesn’t appear, follow the steps below to enable the feature.)

Tap Turn On While Driving, and it will turn on automatically when your iPhone connects to your car via Bluetooth1 or when your iPhone senses driving motion. You can change the method your iPhone uses to determine whether you’re driving, or turn the feature on manually.

Turn it on and off in Control Center
You can let Do Not Disturb while driving turn on automatically, or you can add it to Control Center for convenient manual access:

Go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls.
Tap Add control to Control Center next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.
Now you can swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap Do Not Disturb while driving icon to turn the feature on or off.

Screen shots of iphones to help set up do not disturb while driving What to expect while it’s active
Here’s what to expect when Do Not Disturb while driving is turned on. You can customize many of these features in Settings.

Your iPhone stays silent and the screen stays dark. If someone sends you a message, they receive an automatic reply letting them know that you’re driving. If the message is important, the sender can type the word “urgent” to make sure that you receive a notification. Then you can pull over to read their important message or ask Siri to read it to you.
iPhone delivers some notifications, such as emergency alerts, timers, and alarms.
Phone calls are delivered using the same conditions as standard Do Not Disturb: You can allow calls only from your Favorites, and allow calls to come through if the same person calls twice in a row. If your iPhone connects to your car via Bluetooth, calls will come through as usual, and you can use your car’s buttons, microphones, and speakers to take your call.
If you use Maps to navigate, your iPhone still shows lock-screen navigation help and gives turn-by-turn instructions.
If you’re a passenger and you try to use your iPhone while the feature is active, you must tap I’m Not Driving to turn it off.

Customize its features
You can customize how Do Not Disturb while driving works in Settings > Do Not Disturb.

Tap Activate to choose how you’d like Do Not Disturb while driving to turn on.

Automatically: Your iPhone uses information like motion detection and network connections to sense that you might be driving, and turns on the feature.
When Connected to Car Bluetooth: Do Not Disturb while driving starts when your phone connects to your car’s hands-free system.
Manually: Use Control Center to turn on Do Not Disturb while driving before you begin.
Tap Auto-Reply To and choose who receives an auto-reply, then tap Auto-Reply to customize the message they receive. If someone still needs to contact you, they can break through Do Not Disturb by sending “urgent” as an additional message.

Use Restrictions to keep it on
Are you the parent of a young driver? You can prevent changes to Do Not Disturb while driving to make sure that it remains a part of their safe driving habits.

On your child’s iPhone, go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
If you haven’t used Restrictions before, enter a new passcode. Remember this passcode for any future changes.
Under Allow Changes, tap Do Not Disturb While Driving.
Select Don’t Allow Changes.

Learn more
Learn how to use Do Not Disturb on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to silence notifications when you’re not driving.

If your car supports CarPlay and you connect your iPhone, Do Not Disturb while driving isn’t activated automatically.
iPhone 5s doesn’t support Activate Automatically.
This feature requires Fitness Tracking to be turned on. Go to Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness > Fitness Tracking.
Published Date: May 21, 2018
The above instructions are from Apple and can be found here.

summer safety tips for pets

Summer Pet Safety

The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It’s difficult enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity, but things really get tough in areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes with tragic results.

We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on (and even if the power isn’t).

Practice basic summer safety

  1. Never leave your pets in a parked car

    Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car by taking action or calling for help. Local law enforcement can follow this handy guide for how to proceed.
  2. Watch the humidity

    “It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.” Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions below for treating heat stroke.
  3. Limit exercise on hot days

    Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.
  4. Don’t rely on a fan

    Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.
  5. Provide ample shade and water

    Any time your pet is outside, make sure they have protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.
  6. Cool your pet inside and out

    Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you. Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if they enjoy a cooling soak.
  7. Watch for signs of heatstroke

    Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.
  8. How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke

    Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.
  9. Prepare for power outages

    Before a summer storm takes out the power in your home, create a disaster plan to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and other temperature-related trouble.

This article is from the Humane Society and can be found here.
Image of San Francisco houses with the text "San Francisco Housing is highest in the country"

San Francisco Housing

A report out this week from the Department of Housing and Urban Development finds the median price for a single-family home in the Bay Area is now $935,000. A family earning $117,000 now qualifies as “low income” in the region.

Realtor Larry Gallegos says this rundown house sold for over $1 million. CBS NEWS
CBS News went to see California’s red-hot housing market with realtor Larry Gallegos. He showed us a house you would think he couldn’t give away. But Gallegos says the home, complete with leaks in the roof, sold for $1.23 million. The buyer beat out six competing offers, all above the asking price.

  “It’s a little mind-blowing, but it is the norm around here,” Gallegos said.

That norm is fueled by thousands of well-paid tech workers who have driven up the median price of a San Francisco house to $1.6 million dollars, the highest in the country. While housing prices are rising faster than incomes nationwide, nowhere is it more evident than in the Bay Area, where home values have soared a staggering 64 percent over the last five years.

That could explain how a 1,000-square-foot shell of a house in the heart of Silicon Valley sold for close to $1 million dollars. Also recently listed? A burned-out home near Google and Apple.

Serious buyers also better bring cash. Just ask Sally Kuchar, who tracks real estate for the website Curbed San Francisco.

“We cannot afford to live here, nor could we afford to live pretty much anywhere in the Bay Area,” she said.

The same goes for teachers, hospital workers, police officers and working people all over, who make up the lifeblood of any community.

One flier could speak for the entire Bay Area housing market: “Enter at your own risk.”

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This article is repost from CBS and can be found here.

Chubb v. Weinstein

Former film producer Harvey Weinstein, who is facing multiple sexual assault cases, has filed new court documents related to his fight against insurance giant Chubb over legal costs.

Citing this week’s court filings in Manhattan, Bloomberg reported that Weinstein’s lawyers are asking for an eight-day federal court trial to have jurors decide whether the insurer’s stand on his coverage is in bad faith.

It will be recalled that in February Chubb – several units of which have collectively issued about 80 policies to Weinstein and his family since the ‘90s – filed a lawsuit, arguing that defense costs from the molestation-linked cases aren’t covered.

Weinstein’s camp, in a countersuit filed last month, noted having paid the group of insurers over $1 million worth of premiums for what his lawyers described as “a wide variety of liability claims,” according to a Reuters report. The countersuit also cited unlimited coverage for the insured’s legal defense.

Bill Cosby ruling

Just this month the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that insurer AIG should foot the bill as far as the defamation lawsuits being faced by Bill Cosby are concerned.

The civil cases allege that Cosby – who has been convicted of aggravated indecent assault – defamed his accusers when he said the women were lying about their sexual misconduct complaints.

The ruling does not relate to legal costs for sexual assault lawsuits.

See related article: Chubb in legal battle with Harvey Weinstein over coverage.

This article was written by Terry Gangcuangco for Insurance Business America and can be found here: here.
Image of flooding

FEMA Turns to Reinsurance

The federal government, seeking to protect itself from the growing cost of natural disasters, is borrowing a technique from the private sector and buying reinsurance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which started purchasing reinsurance last year for the National Flood Insurance Program, is now exploring the expansion of the program, spokesman Michael Hart said by email.

Reinsurance is coverage bought by insurers — or, in this case, FEMA — as protection against unexpectedly high claims.

As the federal government’s exposure to extreme weather and associated natural disasters has grown, so has the reinsurance industry’s role in helping cover that risk. In 2014, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae began buying reinsurance to protect against a drop in the value of their mortgage loans, including losses caused by natural disasters.

FEMA worked through Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Cos., to buy $1 billion worth of reinsurance in 2017 from 25 carriers for the flood insurance program. This year, the agency bought $1.46 billion of reinsurance for the program.

In April, the agency announced its intention to buy a so-called catastrophe bond, which works like reinsurance, with the investor getting a return unless disaster costs to the government exceed a certain threshold. FEMA didn’t say how much the bond would pay out.

Separately, Republican Representative Dennis Ross of Florida, the vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, has introduced a bill that would direct FEMA to look at buying reinsurance or similar products for part of its overall disaster costs — not just flooding.

Ross said that change would protect taxpayers from a sudden spike in costs, and also better protect the public from disasters by increasing the government’s incentive to reduce risk — for example, by restricting development in vulnerable areas, or imposing stricter building standards. “Private capital is going to impose good risk-management procedures,” Ross said in an interview. “Those are market forces that help dictate safe communities, safe environments, better cities.”

The Reinsurance Association of America, a trade group for the industry, has backed Ross’s proposal, telling him in a letter May 31 that “disaster victims, businesses, and communities could greatly benefit from a reinsurance risk transfer program.”

Disaster and insurance experts said that reinsurance would probably work at sheltering taxpayers from unexpected costs. But they said it’s far from clear that reinsurers would exert enough influence on the government to enact policies that reduce Americans’ exposure to risk — policies that tend to be unpopular, which is why they haven’t been adopted yet.

Reinsurers have significant influence over the decisions made by primary insurers, whose business models depend on reinsurers agreeing to buy their risk, according to Peter Kochenburger, a professor and deputy director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law. But he said that same dynamic doesn’t hold for the government.

The federal government “can use reinsurance to reduce its risk, but it doesn’t need reinsurance in the way that many insurers do,” Kochenburger said. If reinsurers insist on unpopular changes to where or how people build, FEMA or Congress can say no.

Another problem is that FEMA doesn’t have direct control over building codes or development decisions. Paula Jarzabkowski, a management professor at Cass Business School in London, said reinsurance programs can spur policy changes, but it’s easier when the agencies facing higher premiums also have the authority to make those changes.

“There needs to be a concerted effort to join the parts of government,” Jarzabkowski said.

Jeffrey Czajkowski, managing director for the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, said the rising costs of disaster, rather than pressure from reinsurers, is what’s most likely to spur more aggressive federal policy on climate resilience.

“If we have 2017 every year, we’re not going to make $70 billion available to the State of Texas every single year,” Czajkowski said. “We just can’t keep doing that.”

This article is written by Christopher Flavelle and can be found here. Copyright Bloomberg News


GDPR: What you need to know

You may have noticed that your email inbox has been flooded with emails from businesses and organizations informing you that they have “updated their privacy policy”.

The reason is that on May 25th, GDPR went into effect and if a business isn’t compliant, then hefty fines and penalties await.

What Is GDPR and Why Is It Necessary?

The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is a legal framework that requires businesses to protect the personal data and privacy of European Union (EU) citizens for transactions that occur within EU member states. It covers all companies that deal with the data of EU citizens, specifically banks, insurance companies, and other financial companies.

The 1995 Data Protection Directive

In April 2016, the European Parliament adopted the GDPR, replacing its outdated Data Protection Directive, enacted back in 1995. Unlike a regulation, a directive allows for each of the twenty-eight members of the EU to adopt and customize the law to the needs of its citizens, whereas a regulation requires its full adoption with no leeway by all 28 countries second. In this instance, the GDPR requires all 28 countries of the EU to comply.

The issue with the Directive is that it’s no longer relevant to today’s digital age. Its provisions fail to address how data is stored, collected, and transferred today—a digital age. Like many regulations and statutes throughout the EU and U.S., these regulations haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of the levels of technological advancement.

Exploring the GDPR

The full text of GDPR is comprised of 99 articles, setting out the rights of individuals and obligations placed on businesses that are subject to the regulation. GDPR’s provisions also require that any personal data exported outside the EU is protected and regulated. In other words, if any European citizen’s data is touched, you better be compliant with the GDPR. For example, a U.S. airline is selling services to someone out in the UK, although the airline is located in the U.S., they are still required to comply with GDPR because of the European data being involved.

It is a very high standard to meet, requiring that companies invest large sums of money to ensure they are in compliance. According to the EU’s GDPR website, the legislation is designed to “harmonize” data privacy laws across Europe, providing greater protection and rights to individuals.

Before the Internet, Europe has long been the model for how our data should be protected and regulated. The reason is that the public’s concern over privacy has dominated the business sphere, ensuring that stringent rules on how companies use the personal data of its citizens is always taken into account.

Two days ago, the UK government created and enacted a new Data Protection Act, replacing the previous law that was passed into law back in 1998. Running 353 pages and full of complex provisions, it largely incorporates all the provisions of GDPR, but differs in that individual countries were able to select parts of GDPR that could be customized to their citizen’s needs.

After months of learning about data breaches from companies like Facebook and Equifax, this couldn’t be more necessary. Even Mark Zuckerberg jumped on board in his testimony before Congress on Capitol Hill, believing GDPR to be a very positive step for the Internet.

What Data Is Protected Under GDPR?

With the enactment of GDPR today, two major protective rights should be highlighted. First, the right of erasure, or the right to be forgotten. If you don’t want your data out there, then you have the right to request for its removal or erasure. Second, the right of portability. When it comes to “opt-in/opt-out” clauses, the notices to users must be very clear and precise as to its terms.

GDPR requires clear consent and justification. Pursuant to the GDPR, the following types of data is addressed and covered:

(1) Personally identifiable information, including names, addresses, date of births, social security numbers

(2) Web-based data, including user location, IP address, cookies, and RFID tags

(3) Health (HIPAA) and genetic data

(4) Biometric data

(5) Racial and/or ethnic data

(6) Political opinions

(7) Sexual orientation

What Criteria Needs To Be Met?

As mentioned earlier, the GDPR requirements comprise of a total of 99 articles–that’s alot of reading. Any company that stores or processes personal information about EU citizens within EU states must comply with the GDPR, even if they do not have a business presence within the EU. Companies are subject to GDPR if:

(1) The business has a presence in an EU country;

(2) Even if there is no presence in the EU, the company still processes personal data of European residents;

(3) There is more than 250 employees; and

(4) Even if there is fewer than 250 employees, if the data-processing impacts the rights and freedoms of its data subjects

How Do You Know If You Are Prepared?

Well, individuals and businesses have had almost two years to figure out how to ensure their compliance, so there shouldn’t be an excuse for failure to comply. But, let’s be realistic, a large number of companies are going to get hit, hard. Today marks the day in which all that effort is broadcasted to the world of consumers.

#1 –Data Breach Incident Response Plan

The biggest sign of readiness is having a data breach plan or incident response plan in place. While most companies have some form of a plan in place, they will need to review, amend, and update it, ensuring full compliance with GDPR requirements.

This is only half the battle. You better be prepared to enact it when a data breach occurs. Testing these plans is essential, otherwise, how will you know if its actually ideal? The GDPR requires that companies report breaches within 72 hours, or 3 days. How well the data response team is able to implement the plan and minimize any damage will affect how much a company is fined and/or penalized.

#2 –Hiring A Data Protection Officer (DPO)

The GDPR requires that a data protection officer (DPO) be appointed and hired. However, it doesn’t address whether it needs to actually be a discrete position, so presumably, a company could name an officer who already has a similar role to that position, so long as they are able to show their protection of personally identifiable information (PII), with no conflict of interest. GDPR allows for the DPO to work for multiple organizations, lending support for a “virtual DPO” as an option.

#3 –Create a Record or Log of Risks and Compliance Progress

Now that the clock has ticked its last tock, companies better have an updated record as to its progress made over the past two years, showing its identification of all its risks and measures taking in attempts of minimizing or eliminating those risks. This record, or Record of Processing Activities (“RoPA”), is required in Article 30 of GDPR, focusing on the inventory of risky applications and programs that may be operating.

However, another question presents itself in terms of the keeper of the log and how its maintained. The fear of manipulation, alteration, and fraud are still issues to be addressed. In the era of blockchain, having a log stored that’s stored on the blockchain that is unable to be manipulated or altered could prove extremely useful for companies moving forward.

How Does This Affect the US?

When it comes to US businesses, the GDPR requirements will force them to change the way they process, store, and protect customers’ personal data. Companies must provide a “reasonable” level of data protection and privacy to its customers, ensuring its storage only upon the individual consent by those customers and no longer than absolutely necessary for which the data is processed. However, the regulation doesn’t define what “reasonable” means in terms of ensuring compliance, so this could present future complications when incidents occur and whether or not an organization took enough steps to ensure minimal damage.

Upon request, companies must erase personal data—unlike the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data breach that is still unfolding. The right to be forgotten is a powerful right and a right we as citizens are all entitled to. However, GDPR doesn’t supersede any current legal requirement where an organization is required to maintain certain data, like HIPAA requirements.

How Does This Affect Social Media Companies?

Your mind probably just jumped to Facebook and how this will affect social media networks. As we’ve seen since Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing on Capitol Hill two months ago, many social media companies and online networks have already updated their privacy policies and terms of service in anticipation of today’s deadline.

Facebook’s response is going to be closely scrutinized by European regulators in wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach as well as lingering concerns over the company’s data collection. Same with Twitter, yet no major scandal has put them in the public spotlight.

Accountable EU Representative

If you think social media platforms are exempt from this regulation, you’re thinking is also outdated. GDPR requires that social media companies have a designated EU representative that can be held accountable for the GDPR compliance of the organization within Europe.

Clear Privacy Notice

After hearing Zuckerberg’s testimony, it’s clear that users need to be presented with a simple and clear privacy notice that they can actually understand—not something that looks like a bulk collection of Harry Potter books bound together.

The Right To Be Forgotten

It will be interesting to see how these companies will deal with user requests for deletion of certain personal data. It is no longer safe for a company to assume that their customers or users are content with their personal data being held—seeing as most of the have no idea it’s held until something unfortunately happens.

I asked Arizona internet attorney, Anette Beebe, what she thought about “the right to be forgotten” and how it affects our freedom of speech.

“In the EU, under The Right to Be Forgotten, people who were once bad actors have been able to sweep their history of wrong doing under the rug. However, in the U.S., we value the freedom of speech and providing people with more information, rather so they can make informed decisions, rather than hiding it. I can understand privacy and respect that, but I don’t respect a law that helps unscrupulous people being able to hide from their misdeeds or have truthful, but unflattering information taken down just because someone doesn’t like it.”

Beebe anticipates a wave of demand letters directed to website clients, asking for content to be taken down that in reality, has no chance of being taken down. “It will be interesting to see how the courts tackle these issues moving forward,” says Beebe.

What Happens If You Fail To Comply With GDPR?

Just ask Facebook and Google who were hit with a collective $8.8 billion lawsuit (Facebook, 3.9 billion euro; Google, 3.7 billion euro) today by Austrian privacy campaigner, Max Schrems, alleging violations of GDPR as it pertains to the opt-in/opt-out clauses. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the way these companies obtain user consent for privacy policies is an “all-or-nothing” choice, asking users to check a small box allowing them to access services. What happens if you don’t choose “I accept”? You’re denied service. A clear violation of the GDPR’s provisions per privacy experts and the EU.

Failing to adhere to the GDPR has steep penalties of up to €20 million, or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher. Reports estimate that about half of U.S. companies that should be compliant on GDPR requirements by today, won’t be. There’s more to it than all those emails coming to your inbox about updated privacy terms.

According to a December 2016 PwC survey, 68 percent of U.S. based companies expect to have spent $1-$10 million to meet these GDPR requirements.

But, some websites in the U.S. have decided to block their services entirely rather than adhere to the new regulations, going completely dark. Dozens of American newspapers are currently blocked in Europe and web services like Instapaper have suspended operations in the European Union for the foreseeable future.

Facebook and Google Already Hit With $8.8 Billion Lawsuit for GDPR Violations

The GDPR is no joke and nothing to mess around with.Today is a big day for every business and organization in the world. Let’s hope that the companies we are loyal to, are loyal to us.

This article is by Andrew Rossow, an Internet Attorney in Ohio and a Contributor for Forbes. This article is a repost from Forbes and cab be found here.

Supreme Court ruled on class action lawsuits

Supreme Court Rules on Class Action Lawsuits

A divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can force workers to use individual arbitration instead of class-action lawsuits to press legal claims. The decision potentially limits the rights of tens of millions of employees.

The justices, voting 5-4 along ideological lines, said for the first time Monday that employers can enforce arbitration agreements signed by workers, even if those accords bar group claims. The majority rejected contentions that federal labor law guarantees workers the right to join forces in pressing claims.

The ruling builds on previous Supreme Court decisions that let companies channel disputes with consumers and other businesses into arbitration. The latest decision applies directly to workers’ wage-and-hour claims, and its reasoning might let employers avoid class action job-discrimination suits as well.

“The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.

Arbitration supporters say that forum is cheaper and more efficient than traditional litigation. Critics say companies are trying to strip individuals of important rights, including the ability to band together on claims that as a practical matter are too small to press individually.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. Ginsburg called the ruling “egregiously wrong.”

“The inevitable result of today’s decision will be the underenforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers,” Ginsburg wrote.

The workers in the case said the National Labor Relations Act guarantees them the right to press claims as a group, either in arbitration or in court. The 1935 law protects “concerted activities” by workers, without explicitly mentioning lawsuits.

The majority said that language wasn’t specific enough to overcome a separate 1925 law that says arbitration agreements must be enforced like any other contract.

About 25 million employees have signed arbitration accords that bar group claims, a lawyer for the workers in the case told the court.

The cases are Epic Systems v. Lewis, 16-285; Ernst & Young v. Morris, 16-300; and NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA, 16-307.

This article is a repost from Insurance Journal and can be found here.
Disability Awareness Month Graphic

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month

May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, a time to address the strategies you have in place to protect yourself and your family from loss of income due to injury or illness.

Without your paycheck, how long would you be able to make your mortgage or rent payment, buy groceries, or pay your credit card bills without feeling the pinch? If you’re like most, it wouldn’t be long at all: Half of working Americans couldn’t make it a month before financial difficulties would set in and almost one in four would have problems immediately, according to a Life Happens survey .

That’s where disability insurance comes in. Think of it as insurance for your paycheck. It ensures that if you are unable to work because of illness or injury, you will continue to receive an income to make ends meet until you’re able to return to work.

You insure your autos, your home, your business, and hopefully, your life. Don’t forget to insure your income. We’re here to answer any questions you may have, and of course, we are always happy to provide you with a no-obligation quote.

Did you know?

25% graphicMore than 25 percent of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement.

1 in 8 graphicOne in eight workers will be disabled for five or more years during their working careers.

12% graphicAbout 12 percent of the American population is classified as disabled (37 million).

34 plus graphicThe average long-term disability absence lasts 34.6 months.

This article is based mostly on information from Life Happens and can be found here.

Small Business Week 2018

The SBA’s Small Business Week runs from April 29 to May 5 this year. Here’s why this event matters for today’s entrepreneurs.

Sunday kicked off National Small Business Week, and if you aren’t already celebrating in the festivities, you might want to start planning to join in now.

Led by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Week recognizes outstanding small business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the United States and in U.S. territories. From Sunday, April 29 through Saturday, May 5, the SBA will be livestreaming award ceremonies along with announcing the National Small Business Person of the Year. Other activities slated include a three-day virtual conference from May 1 to 3, co-hosted by SCORE and a Twitter chat on Friday, May 4 about tips for starting and growing a business.

Now more than ever before, National Small Business Week matters for entrepreneurs and small businesses of all sizes. Here’s a look at the effect this event has on the entrepreneurial community.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy.

According to the SBA, more than half of Americans own or work for a small business. Entrepreneurs also help create two out of every three new jobs in the United States, yearly. Since the week-long event was first issued in 1963, the number of small businesses created has continued to rise. Fewer businesses are failing, too. Although it is quite popular to cite startup failure statistics — particularly in their first year — the reality is that 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or more in business.

2018’s National Small Business Week is setting the tone and pace for future events to come.

In addition to the livestreamed event ceremonies, virtual conference, and Twitter chat, the SBA will be hosting events to get entrepreneurs from all walks of life involved in the festivities on and offline.

A #SmallBusinessWeek Hackathon will be held in Washington, D.C. the weekend of April 27 to 29 with a $24,000 prize pool awarded to winning submissions. The SBA will also hit the road with a multi-city bus tour from May 1 to 3 as they highlight some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs across the country.

National Small Business Week helps foster a business-friendly environment.

The Kauffman Foundation’s recently included the results of their entrepreneur survey in their 2018 State of Entrepreneurship Address. Respondents have a positive outlook when it comes to the future of their businesses, but are less optimistic about the United States as a whole. One of the biggest reasons cited for this feeling was the belief that the government should prioritize an environment that fosters small business-friendliness and support.

While it may take a bit more than one week-long event each year to successfully create and build upon that kind of environment, it’s key to keep celebrations like National Small Business Week growing and thriving. For a look back at National Small Business Week through the years, the SBA offers video highlights to watch on their website.

This article is a repost from and can be found here.

Agents. Advisors. Friends.