Shopify Inc. says it has notified Canada’s privacy commissioner about a recent data breach it says was carried out by two “rogue” employees.
“In accordance with Canadian law, we promptly notified all affected merchants,” a spokeswoman for the company wrote in an email.
“We have subsequently provided information regarding the incident to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.”
Earlier Wednesday, the commissioner’s office said it hadn’t yet received a report about the breach.
“Our office is reaching out to Shopify, given the potential seriousness of the breach, to request more information about the matter,” Vito Pilieci, a senior communications adviser wrote in an email.
Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, it is mandatory for companies to report breaches to the privacy commissioner’s office, “where it is reasonable to believe that the breach creates a real risk of significant harm to an individual,” Pilieci said.
Shopify spokeswoman Rebecca Feigelsohn said the two employees involved in the breach were fired.
On Tuesday, the Ottawa-based company first revealed on an online discussion board that it had identified two workers involved in illegitimately obtaining records connected to some of its merchants.
“We immediately terminated these individuals’ access to our Shopify network and referred the incident to law enforcement. We are currently working with the FBI and other international agencies in their investigation of these criminal acts,” the company said.
“While we do not have evidence of the data being utilized, we are in the early stages of the investigation and will be updating affected merchants as relevant.”
The customer data the employees were accessing was linked to fewer than 200 merchants, who Shopify has declined to identify but says have been notified.
The improperly accessed data includes basic contact information such as emails, names and addresses, as well as order details, such as what products and services were purchased.
Shopify said complete payment card numbers and other sensitive personal or financial information were not part of the breach and it has yet to find evidence that any of the data was used.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 23, 2020.
The lockdown forced by the coronavirus continues to be a driving force for Amazon, which saw its profit triple from a year ago. Those profits are expected to continue even as the company spends billions of dollars dealing with COVID-19.
Net income for the third quarter rose to $6.3 billion, or $12.37 a share, from $2.1 billion, or $4.23 a share, a year ago, despite spending around $2.5 billion dealing with the global pandemic. The online retailing giant also posted revenue that rose 37% to $96.1 billion. Excluding foreign exchange rate changes, the increase was still 36% over a year ago.
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Wall Street expected Amazon would maintain its strong momentum in the third quarter, with the e-commerce juggernaut making billions more dollars during the pandemic as customers used its site to avoid going to stores. Amazon wasn’t the only online retailer benefiting from this trend, with Etsy, Walmart, Target and Wayfair all seeing big sales increases too. While the latest quarter didn’t include Prime Day — which was delayed to the fourth quarter and ran from Oct. 13 to 14 — Amazon was still predicted to post a 32% rise in revenue thanks to a surge in demand all year.
Amazon is now poised to exit the pandemic — whenever that may be — as a bigger and more powerful entity in retail, especially as dozens of traditional merchants like Lord & Taylor and Aldo have gone into bankruptcy protection this year. This dynamic will benefit Amazon’s revenue growth, but it creates other problems. Millions of consumers, now habituated to using Amazon, may find fewer shopping options, making it easier for Amazon to raise prices if it decides to do so.
For the fourth quarter, Amazon said it expects sales to range between $112 billion and $121 billion, or growth of 28% to 38% vs. a year ago. Analysts expected the company to post $112.3 billion in revenue in the period, according to Yahoo Finance.
Amazon shares fell 2.1% to $3,145 in after-hours trading.
For Amazon, getting bigger may invite even more scrutiny, with elected officials and regulatory agencies in the US already investigating the potential monopoly powers of Big Tech. Last week, the Justice Department sued Google, claiming the company operates a search monopoly. More of these actions against Amazon, Apple and Facebook are widely expected.
That’s why Amazon’s been on a kick to talk about all the good it’s doing for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as its own employees. On Thursday, CEO Jeff Bezos called for other employers to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“Two years ago, we increased Amazon’s minimum wage to $15 for all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees across the U.S. and challenged other large employers to do the same,” Bezos said in the company’s release. “Best Buy and Target have stepped up, and we hope other large employers will also make the jump to $15. Now would be a great time.”
Amazon started off the pandemic with difficulty, as the company experienced regular delays in its heralded logistics network that frustrated its customers. It also struggled to implement new safety features in its warehouses, as workers repeatedly protested for better protections from the coronavirus. The company spent huge sums of money to tackle these problems, hiring hundreds of thousands of new workers to handle the spike in consumer demand and adding dozens of new safety measures including a testing regime, masks and more rigorous cleanings.
Delays are no longer the norm for Amazon orders but the company disclosed this month that nearly 20,000 US workers contracted COVID-19, a sign that Amazon’s work to contain the virus in its workforce is far from over.
Bezos warned in April that Amazon would spend $4 billion for its coronavirus response in the second quarter, potentially wiping out the company’s profits for that period. Instead, Amazon posted an all-time record profit.
The fourth quarter should show even more strength for the company, with Prime Day adding to Amazon’s typical growth from Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon this month said independent sellers on its platform posted a nearly 60% increase in sales during Prime Day.
Since those sellers account for about 60% of Amazon’s sales, the company likely saw a big increase in this latest Prime Day, putting the company in a good starting point for the holiday season. Edison Trends said Prime Day likely grew by 36% in the US.
Amazon said it expects operating income in the period to be between $1 billion and $4.5 billion, compared with $3.9 billion a year ago. The projection includes $4 billion in costs related to coronavirus.
The surge in growth Facebook saw at the start of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be slowing down. User growth in the United States in Canada — the company’s most lucrative ad market — has declined, Facebook reported as part of its third-quarter earnings.
The company now has 196 million users in North America, down slightly from 198 million last quarter. In a statement, the company said the decrease was expected, and could continue through the end of the year.
“As expected, in the third quarter of 2020, we saw Facebook DAUs and MAUs in the US & Canada decline slightly from the second quarter 2020 levels which were elevated due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Facebook wrote in a press release. “In the fourth quarter of 2020, we expect this trend to continue and that the number of DAUs and MAUs in the US & Canada will be flat or slightly down compared to the third quarter of 2020.”
Facebook lost users in the US this quarter + company expects it will lose more next as people get back to more “normal” use post-COVID pic.twitter.com/fWPn2b60zc
The company had previously reported a large surge in growth at the start of the year due to widespread coronavirus lockdowns. Facebook isn’t seeing the same slowdown everywhere, though, and the social network is continuing to add new users in Asia and its “rest of world” markets. The company also continued to tout its “family of apps” metrics, which combines Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. That number rose to 2.54 billion “daily active people” in September, according to the company.
The slowdown also doesn’t seem to have affected Facebook’s revenue, which was up to $21.4 billion for the quarter, an increase of 22 percent from last year and better than analyst expectations for the company. Facebook reported more than $18 billion in ad revenue last quarter, despite a well-publicized advertiser boycott.
During a call with analysts, CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized Facebook’s work to prepare for the upcoming election, and said he’s worried about the possibility of “civil unrest” after election day. The company has taken numerous steps over the last several weeks and months to prepare for the election, like banning political ads after election day and cracking down on QAnon.
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Facebook on Thursday said that its daily and monthly active users in the US and Canada, a core market, declined slightly in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, and it expects this trend to continue. Facebook does not break down user numbers by region, so the full extent of the damage is unclear.
Globally, the earnings release paints a rosier picture both in terms of financial performance and user growth.
Facebook’s revenue jumped 22% to $21.47 billion compared to last year, which beat analysts’ expectations. Net income increased 29% to $7.85 billion year-over-year.
The company had 2.74billion monthly active users during the quarter ending in September, an increase of 12% from the prior year. When combining all of Facebook’s various apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, the company reported 3.21 billion users, an increase of 14%.
Last quarter, Facebook said its daily and monthly active user numbers “reflect increased engagement as people around the world sheltered in place and used our products to connect with the people and organizations they care about.” However, the company previously cautioned that as stay at home orders begin to ease, it expected engagement to be flat or to slightly drop in the future.
Shares of Facebook initially jumped following its latest earnings report, then fell about 3% before climbing slightly into positive territory in after-hours trading.
Looking ahead to 2021, the company said it continues to face “a significant amount of uncertainty.”
“We believe the pandemic has contributed to an acceleration in the shift of commerce from offline to online, and we experienced increasing demand for advertising as a result of this acceleration. Considering that online commerce is our largest ad vertical, a change in this trend could serve as a headwind to our 2021 ad revenue growth,” the company said in its earnings report.
Facebook also cited other challenges, including iPhone software changes that it expects will hurt its advertising business, as well as the “evolving regulatory landscape.”
Facebook’s quarterly report comes a day after Zuckerberg appeared before Senators on the Commerce Committee alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Though the hearing was meant to focus on a crucial law, known as Section 230, which protects the companies’ ability to moderate content as they see fit, Senators also confronted the executives on other topics, including antitrust, misinformation about voting and election interference.
“We had a strong quarter as people and businesses continue to rely on our services to stay connected and create economic opportunity during these tough times,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
The quarter included a major advertising boycott of Facebook that included numerous household brands, such as Hershey’s, Starbucks and Patagonia. A civil rights coalition that includes the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign, calling on major companies to stop advertising on Facebook for the month of July due to the platform’s “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.” “We deeply respect any brand’s decision and remain focused on the important work of removing hate speech and providing critical voting information. Our conversations with marketers and civil rights organizations are about how, together, we can be a force for good,” Carolyn Everson, VP of Facebook’s global business group, said at the time, in response to the boycott.
“Facebook has rebounded nicely from both the early-pandemic advertiser pullout, when marketers pulled ads across all media to redo messaging or conserve funds, and from the July ad boycott,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Despite its challenges with election turmoil and content moderation, it remains a go-to for advertisers seeking to engage a broad base of consumers.”
Heading into the US election next week, Facebook faces continued scrutiny for how it handles misinformation and foreign interference.
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