FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

The Federal Trade Commission has begun a series of 15 to 20 hearings scheduled over the next few months to address whether companies based on new technologies should spur changes in its competition and consumer protection policies. FTC chair Joseph Simmons noted that the “broad antitrust consensus” in existence for 25 years is now being challenged, and that he will approach the topic with an open mind. The Justice Department may also start investigations into whether Google and other social media sites are biased against conservative voices. Continue reading FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

As Congress considers how to regulate technology companies’ handling of personal data, the Internet Association, whose members include Google and Facebook, and BSA/The Software Alliance, which represents Microsoft and Oracle, issued their own proposals. Among the six principles that the Internet Association endorsed is data portability, which allows consumers to take their personal information from one service to another that provides a similar service. BSA/The Software Alliance issued a 10-point framework. Continue reading Two Industry Trade Groups Issue Proposals for Data Privacy

Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

After years of fending off federal attempts to regulate handling of private data, some tech companies are now working with policy makers to create federal privacy laws. The Information Technology Industry Council, which represents Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Salesforce, hopes that federal legislation would preempt state regulations, such as the strict online privacy laws recently adopted by California, and create a single regulation rather than a confusing array of multiple state laws. Continue reading Tech Firms Working With Feds to Create Privacy Legislation

SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

Kid-safe technology startup SuperAwesome is introducing an alternative to YouTube’s embedded video player intended for publishers of children’s content. The new offering — which joins the SuperAwesome platform of “kidtech” tools created for areas such as advertising, authentication, parental controls and social engagement — provides brands with a viable video player alternative as privacy issues dominate the spotlight. According to the company, the player does not collect data on kids and adheres to COPPA and GDPR. Continue reading SuperAwesome Rolls Out Kid-Safe Embeddable Video Player

Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Microsoft is calling for regulation of facial recognition technology, with president Bradford Smith writing a blog post detailing its potential misuse, and comparing it to medicine and cars, both of which are highly regulated. He urged Congress to act, saying that, “government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology,” and that, “a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.” Continue reading Microsoft Calls On Congress to Regulate Facial Recognition

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

In an effort to restore trust in its social platform, Twitter plans to “begin removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers” today, reports The New York Times. “Many users have inflated their followers on Twitter or other services with automated or fake accounts, buying the appearance of social influence to bolster their political activism, business endeavors or entertainment careers.” Twitter has acknowledged that easily creating or buying fake followers has negatively affected the legitimacy of the platform. Continue reading Twitter Cuts Millions of Followers to Combat Fake Accounts

Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Smart TVs have become a boon to data collectors and their marketer-clients, who are using new technology to identify what people are watching on Internet TV, sometimes without their knowledge. San Francisco-based Samba TV, for example, which has collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, has raised $40 million in venture capital. About a dozen television manufacturers have inked deals with Samba TV to embed its software in some of their sets. Continue reading Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Facebook Extended Some Partner Deals to Share More Data

In 2015, Facebook said it ended data sharing of its users’ records with other companies. Now, court documents, company officials and sources reveal that, after that date, Facebook struck so-called whitelist deals to share information with many more companies than previously acknowledged, including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor, both of which were Facebook advertisers. Among the shared data were phone numbers and the “friend link” that measured degrees of closeness between the targeted user and others in her network. Continue reading Facebook Extended Some Partner Deals to Share More Data

Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Over the last ten years, Facebook inked agreements with at least 60 phone and device manufacturers to share access to troves of users’ personal information. Among those manufacturers are Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, in addition to several Chinese electronics companies. These data-access partnerships started before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones. As a result of these deals, Facebook increased its influence as a social media platform, and device makers offered popular features including “like” buttons, messaging and address books. Continue reading Facebook Criticized for Sharing User Data with Device Makers

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Grilled by European Parliament

In his appearance before the European Parliament, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was peppered non-stop for 75 minutes with questions about his company’s misuse of user data, its role in elections and its outsized global dominance, which led some to call for its breakup. The meeting ended with Parliament members griping that Zuckerberg had evaded questions and repeated statements he had already made, although the format only allowed Zuckerberg a few minutes at the end to reply to the many questions. Continue reading Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Grilled by European Parliament

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Since YouTube debuted YouTube Kids three years ago, parents have complained about their ability to control the content. Now, the company is adding three features to respond to those concerns. A white-list feature parents requested allows them to handpick the content for their children. The company also introduced pre-screened content with partners, including, initially, Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids. Third is an option to set search settings to only permit channels “verified by the YouTube Kids team.” Continue reading YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Debate Erupts After Reports of Access to Facebook User Data

Lawmakers in the U.S. and U.K. are demanding answers from Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg after reports surfaced over the weekend that data analytics company Cambridge Analytica was able to exploit the personal data of 50 million Facebook users without their permission — data that was reportedly used in the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Brexit referendum. Facebook announced that it suspended Cambridge Analytica after learning Facebook policies specifying how third-party developers can deploy user data had been violated. Continue reading Debate Erupts After Reports of Access to Facebook User Data

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