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

FTC Targets Anti-Competitive Violations, Fake Amazon Posts

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will create a task force to take a broad look at potential antitrust violations in the tech industry, including re-examining already-approved mergers — possibly undoing deals deemed to have an anti-competitive impact today. At the same time, the FTC brought its first case against using fake ads to sell online products, settling with the New York City-based Cure Encapsulations and its owner for paying for fake ads about a weight loss product to be posted as Amazon reviews. Continue reading FTC Targets Anti-Competitive Violations, Fake Amazon Posts

Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

Many smartphone users provide personal data to apps, from intimate health information to shopping habits. What the users don’t know is that Facebook culls the data seconds after they enter it, even if they have no connection to Facebook. Eleven popular apps, which have been downloaded millions of times, have been sharing data with Facebook — without any obvious disclosure to users providing that sensitive data. The revelation of that information has created a shakeup at Facebook and the involved apps. Continue reading Facebook’s Latest Misstep: Culling Data From Popular Apps

Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an auditing agency, issued an independent report that encouraged Congress to develop an Internet data privacy legislation similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The House Energy and Commerce Committee requested this GAO report two years ago; a February 26 hearing will discuss the report’s findings and the possibility of drafting such legislation. Prospects for such a law now is weaker due to partisan divides over federal regulation. Continue reading GAO Report Suggests GDPR-Like Internet Data Privacy Law

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Twenty-two children’s and consumer groups asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s marketing of children’s apps in its Play store. Google has stated that its “Family” section of the Play store is where parents can find age-appropriate apps, but the groups state that some apps may violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents children’s apps/sites from collecting phone numbers, locations, photographs, and other data from children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. Continue reading Various Groups Complain to FTC About Google’s Apps for Kids

Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

According to its 2017 internal records, Facebook shared users’ personal data with the world’s biggest tech firms, allowing them to circumvent privacy rules. By doing so, Facebook boosted its advertising revenue, partner companies enhanced their products with more features, and Facebook users were able to connect across websites and devices. For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of all its 2.2 billion global users without consent, and let Netflix and Spotify read users’ private messages. Continue reading Facebook Shared Private Data to Advance Its Own Interests

Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Facebook said it discovered a bug that allowed unauthorized access to third-party apps of private photos, impacting about 6.8 million users. Facebook engineering director Tomer Bar said the company fixed the issue that allowed such apps “access to a broader set of photos than usual.” Starting with the Cambridge Analytica harvesting of user data, Facebook has had a string of problems related to data privacy, most recently with a serious hack in September that compromised the Facebook accounts of millions of users. Continue reading Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

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