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Business News Roundup, May 19

A federal judge said he’s inclined to approve Wells Fargo’s $142 million settlement with customers over unauthorized accounts. “The settlement amount appears to be adequate and the parties have structured the settlement in what appears to be a very thoughtful and responsible way, given the complexities of the situation,” U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said at a Thursday hearing in San Francisco. Wells is trying to move past the scandal in which it admitted that bankers may have created millions of customer accounts without permission. The settlement resolves a class-action suit that accused the San Francisco bank of opening up accounts without customers’ permission over almost 15 years. Federal regulators took the first formal step Thursday toward repealing tough net neutrality rules enacted two years ago that imposed strict oversight of Internet service providers to ensure the unfettered flow of online content. The move by the Federal Communications Commission — cheered on by major broadband companies and strongly opposed by consumer advocates — is part of a broader effort by Republicans since President Trump took office to undo regulations enacted during the Obama era. With net neutrality supporters, including Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., protesting outside the agency’s building, the Republican-controlled FCC voted 2-1 along party lines to start a formal, months-long process of dismantling the rules put in place in 2015. Fiat Chrysler says it’s in discussions with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over claims the company cheated on diesel emissions tests. The EPA said in January that the automaker was using software that allowed diesel vehicles to emit more pollution on the road than they do in emissions tests. The EPA said that about 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs and Ram pickups from the 2014-2016 model years are affected. [...] Fiat Chrysler says any litigation would be “counterproductive” to its talks with the EPA. The automaker says it believes a software update can resolve the EPA’s concerns. GM has already exited the European market, selling its Opel and Vauxhall brands to PSA Group. Facebook won the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by victims of terror attacks and their families who claimed the social media giant helped groups in the Middle East, such as Hamas, by giving them a place to air their incendiary views. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled Thursday that a federal law insulates publishers from liability for the speech of others and rejected claims that Facebook could be held responsible for “provision of services” to Hamas in the form of access to user accounts. During a hearing in March, Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that a federal statute allows victims of terror attacks to seek damages from parties that provide communications facilities that lend support to attackers. The Communications Decency Act bars the courts from allowing such lawsuits to proceed, Garaufis ruled. The judge said the plaintiffs incorrectly “seek to impose liability on defendants like Facebook for allowing third parties to post offensive or harmful content or failing to remove such content once posted.” The suits were the latest around the U.S. testing whether victims of terrorist attacks and their families can hold social media companies to blame for allowing violent extremists to use their platforms to recruit followers.

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