Coalition Alleges Amazon Illegally Collects Children’s Data

A coalition of 19 consumer and privacy groups plans to file a complaint against Amazon alleging that the e-commerce company’s Echo Dot Kids Edition illegally collects voice recordings and other information from users under age 13, which is a violation of the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA. The Echo Dot Kids Edition is much like the Echo Dot smart speaker device, but targeted to kids using a design featuring bright colors. Via the device, kids can ask questions, play music, and more using voice commands.

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Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

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Global Regulators Looking Into Facebook Privacy Practices

Regulators have reached a tipping point with Facebook after years of half-measures regarding the social media giant’s security-related missteps. Now, regulators across four continents are attempting to reign in Facebook’s behavior. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission hasn’t come to a decisive conclusion regarding what constraints to implement, but the agency is looking to address a wide range of issues, including violations reported almost monthly, according to a source close to the investigation.

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Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

In Canada, privacy commissioners stated that Facebook’s “superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms” violated local and national laws in allowing third parties to access users’ personal data — and that the company has refused to fix the problems. The New York State attorney general plans to investigate Facebook’s “unauthorized collection” of 1.5+ million users’ email address books. Facebook just banned “personality quiz” apps similar to the one behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to improve security. Continue reading Canada, New York Rebuke Facebook For Privacy Violations

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

FTC Examining Zuckerberg’s Personal Role in Data Lapses

According to sources, the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating Facebook for mishandling of personal data, is also taking a close look at co-founder/chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and deciding if and to what degree he should be held personally responsible. Should the FTC move in this direction, it would be a major new challenge for the Silicon Valley company and a personal censure of Zuckerberg. At the same time, Facebook just revealed it botched the safeguarding of millions of Instagram passwords. Continue reading FTC Examining Zuckerberg’s Personal Role in Data Lapses

Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

The Federal Trade Commission ordered Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers to file reports within 45 days on why and how they collect consumer data and if they allow consumers to block such collection. The federal agency’s chair Joseph Simons said the move was “the first shot out of the box” in an investigation into the collection and use of personal data, with the potential aim of creating enforcement rules and helping Congress develop legislation on data privacy. Simons also promised more action. Continue reading FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

In the United States, the debate continues about whether control of data is an antitrust or consumer protection issue — or both. Recent indicators show that the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and state regulators are taking action. The FTC’s new Technology Task Force, made up of agency lawyers in coordination with Consumer Protection Bureau and agency technologists, will examine technology-related matters including prospective and consummated technology mergers. Continue reading New Government Task Force Zeroes in on Tech Regulation

Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

According to NetMarketShare, Google controls 81+ percent of the mobile search market, which is why many businesses believe buying ads on the platform is necessary to stay in business. Appearing on top of search results is critical for many companies, and buying ads is the best way to achieve that. The urgency heats up when it comes to branded keywords, whereby companies must bid on their own names or see their rivals capture the space. If Lyft, for example, doesn’t buy the ad, Uber likely will, and grab the top spot. Continue reading Companies Bid On Their Own Brands For Google Search Ads

Mark Zuckerberg States Intent to Upend Facebook’s Basics

Mark Zuckerberg, who runs Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, stated his intent to focus on private and encrypted communications that can be deleted after a certain amount of time. This new goal is opposite the originally stated purpose of Facebook, which was built around public posts in what he said would resemble a digital town square. Zuckerberg said the first step towards this new goal for Facebook would be to integrate Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, to enable cross-application messaging. Continue reading Mark Zuckerberg States Intent to Upend Facebook’s Basics

Rivals Qualcomm, Apple Cite National Security in 5G Cases

Qualcomm stated that a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) case arguing it suppressed competition in smartphone chips and charged excessive licensing fees could risk U.S. national security. The company is joined by officials from the Defense and Energy Departments who, said sources, have urged FTC commissioners to settle the lawsuit. Those opposing the case contend that Qualcomm’s financial losses from its passage will limit its ability to compete with China’s Huawei Technologies in developing 5G networks and equipment. Continue reading Rivals Qualcomm, Apple Cite National Security in 5G Cases

TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission just inked a settlement with video social network TikTok (which merged with Musical.ly last year) over the charge that its app illegally collected children’s personal information. A large percent of users are under 13, and the personal information collected — without asking for parental permission — included email addresses, names and schools. The site refused to delete video and other data when requested by some parents. The FTC said the $5.7 million settlement is a record for a child privacy violation. Continue reading TikTok to Pay Record Fine After Violating Children’s Privacy

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