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Economy briefs

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

FACEBOOK

New changes aimed at improving transparency

BERLIN | Facebook Inc. has agreed to make several changes to its services to improve transparency and better protect the personal data of its millions of users outside of the U.S., following an in-depth audit of its international headquarters that was released Wednesday.

The social media company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., agreed to changes including asking European users if they wanted to partake in its Facial Recognition, reworking its policies of retaining and deleting private data, and reducing the amount of information collected about people who are not logged into Facebook, the company said in response to the report of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

Facebook's international headquarters are based in Dublin. Ireland is a member of the European Union, meaning the company is required to comply with European data privacy laws, which are more stringent than those that apply in the United States, particularly regarding how long data can be retained.

The company has agreed to present its results in a follow-up to the report in July.

NEW JERSEY

Judge upholds $327M verdict over J&J marketing

TRENTON | A South Carolina judge has upheld a $327 million civil penalty against Johnson & Johnson, which was found guilty by a jury of overstating the safety and effectiveness of antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Attorneys for the state say it's the biggest verdict in the country over the marketing of Risperdal.

The pill for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder once brought J&J more than $3.4 billion in annual sales.

But it's been mired for years in litigation over alleged kickbacks, promotion for unapproved uses and other efforts to boost Risperdal over competing drugs. Dozens of pending state and federal cases allege illegal marketing practices for Risperdal, including one in which Texas is seeking up to $1 billion.

J&J of New Brunswick, N.J., says it will appeal the South Carolina ruling.

TECHNOLOGY

Apple buys startup for about $400M

Apple has finalized its first Israeli acquisition, agreeing to buy flash memory maker Anobit for about $400 million, local financial media reported on Wednesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted a welcome message on Tuesday.

"Welcome to Israel, Apple Inc. on your 1st acquisition here," he wrote. "I'm certain that you'll benefit from the fruit of the Israeli knowledge."

Anobit, founded in June 2006, has 200 employees. Company officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

NEW YORK

Expert consultant gets prison for inside trades

NEW YORK | A former Wall Street hedge fund consultant has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for insider trading.

James Fleishman was convicted this year as part of a government insider trading probe of firms that control billions of dollars.

A federal court judge in Manhattan announced the sentence Wednesday, saying there was a need to deter others from insider trading.

Prosecutors say the 42-year-old Fleishman made more than $800,000 for three years of work as an executive at the California-based firm Primary Global Research.

He was convicted in September of conspiracy and wire fraud for facilitating the passage of inside information between public-company insiders working as consultants and the firm's clients.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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