Policymakers Debate the Internet Economy and Net Neutrality

Regardless of your opinion on the end of net neutrality, the topic is of huge importance not simply to consumers but to policymakers in Washington. A CES 2018 panel of such policymakers examined how to best protect the Internet economy. “It’s a tough time for the Internet economy,” said Center for Democracy & Technology president/chief executive Nuala O’Connor. “People are concerned about the intrusion of technology into their daily lives, and some of the conversation in DC is about what the role of technology is in democracy.” Continue reading Policymakers Debate the Internet Economy and Net Neutrality

CTA’s Shapiro Speaks With FTC’s Ohlhausen, Ajit Pai Absent

The FCC chair traditionally appears on the first day of CES to discuss the issues relevant to the CTA crowd. For the first time in memory, this year was different, as FCC’s Ajit Pai canceled his appearance due reportedly to death threats. Security was still tight, with bag searches and metal detectors, and police and dogs at the ready. Once the conversation started, however, it became obvious that the security was overkill; FTC acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen covered controversial topics, but didn’t add fuel to the fire. Continue reading CTA’s Shapiro Speaks With FTC’s Ohlhausen, Ajit Pai Absent

CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

CES 2018 features 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space that sprawls through the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Hotel and Casino, Aria Resort, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Renaissance, Westgate Resort, The Palazzo, Vdara and two Wynn properties. If your feet and brain rebel after walking the floor for hours, CES offers a great alternative: over 200 sessions on the industry’s most pressing issues and new technologies, featuring top creatives and executives. The 200 sessions are divided into topic-specific tracks. Continue reading CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

The Equifax breach exposed millions of U.S. adults’ personal information, prompted Federal Trade Commission and FBI investigations, and spurred lawsuits by many states’ attorneys general. With the threat of even worse breaches in the future, companies will be urged to adopt better cybersecurity practices. But the Equifax breach is likely to have another result that tech companies won’t like: the need for transparency. Although 48 states have already passed data-breach disclosure laws, now federal regulations are proposed. Continue reading Equifax Breach Spurs Call for Federal Laws on Transparency

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

Federal antitrust regulators approved Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market yesterday, shortly after Whole Foods shareholders voted to approve the deal. The $13.4 billion acquisition “will give Amazon a major brick-and-mortar presence with more than 460 stores in a huge retail category where success has eluded the company,” reports The New York Times. “Amazon has run an Internet grocery business, AmazonFresh, for a decade, but it accounts for less than a 2 percent share of total grocery spending in the United States.” The Federal Trade Commission concluded that the proposed merger would not harm competition. Continue reading FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

Privacy Group Files Complaint Over New Google Ad Program

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over Google’s Store Sales Measurement, a new advertising program that connects consumers’ online activities with purchases in retail stores. According to the complaint, Google now has access to U.S. consumers’ credit and debit card purchase records, but doesn’t reveal how it gets the information and uses a secretive method to protect it. The complaint states that consumers should be provided a way to opt out of the program. Continue reading Privacy Group Files Complaint Over New Google Ad Program

Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

Amazon is ramping up hiring, which is why it posted a 51 percent increase in general and administrative costs and one reason why its stock price dropped more than 3 percent. The company consistently hires for warehouse positions, and hopes to add 50,000 more workers at an August 2 job fair. The growth rate of salespeople for its AWS cloud computing and advertising businesses is also accelerating faster than the 42 percent company average, and Amazon says it will continue to spend on growth, meaning lower profits will also continue. Continue reading Drop in Profits and Stock Price Follow Amazon’s Hiring Surge

DraftKings, FanDuel Cancel Merger In Face of FTC Lawsuit

Rival fantasy-sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel planned to merge last November, but that plan has now been nixed. In their statements about the cancellation of the merger, neither company mentioned the fact that the Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust suit against the merger, but, in statements, the companies’ chief executives noted that the lawsuit would add cost, time and distractions to the proposed union. The companies both offer daily games that allow users to assemble virtual teams of real athletes. Continue reading DraftKings, FanDuel Cancel Merger In Face of FTC Lawsuit

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Instagram has taken a step to increase transparency, giving Internet celebrities on the site an easier way to let viewers know if their posts are sponsored. Users and sponsors can work together to decide whether or not to tag a post as a “paid partnership” at the top. This new feature is currently being tested with a few celebrities and businesses. If it proves successful, Instagram will launch it more widely. Parent company Facebook already uses a similar method of disclosing such paid partnerships. Continue reading Instagram Feature Brings Transparency to Sponsored Posts

Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

In a 215-to-205 vote that largely followed party lines, House Republicans successfully dismantled the new FCC Internet privacy protections for individuals, which was landmark legislation of the Obama administration. Overturning the legislation marks a victory for telecoms that are now free to collect and sell data on users’ online activities without permission, although some have expressed plans to honor voluntary privacy policies. The protections were originally slated to go into effect later this year. Continue reading Internet Privacy Legislation Is Overturned in Win for Telecoms

FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

After a 2-to-1 vote, the FCC put a halt to a portion of the privacy rules passed in October. New FCC chair Ajit Pai said those rules required high-speed Internet providers, such as AT&T and Comcast, to secure their customers’ data against hacking and other unauthorized uses. This stay of new government rules may be a foreshadowing of a broader repeal of privacy protections, believe some experts. In line with that, Pai also stated that the Federal Trade Commission, not the FCC, should “oversee broadband and Internet industries.” Continue reading FCC: Pai Halts Privacy Rules, Foreshadowing Broader Repeal

Vizio Settles FTC, New Jersey Lawsuit Against Data Collection

Vizio just agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey Attorney General. The lawsuit accused the smart TV manufacturer of using its TVs to track what its owners watched — without their knowledge or consent — and then selling that information to marketing firms. According to the FTC, Vizio began gathering such data in 2014, and even retrofitted smart TVs sold as early as 2010 via a software update, for a total of 11 million TVs. Continue reading Vizio Settles FTC, New Jersey Lawsuit Against Data Collection

SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into Yahoo’s highly-publicized data breaches and whether the company should have disclosed the massive hacks earlier. “The SEC requires companies to disclose cybersecurity risks as soon as they are determined to have an effect on investors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo’s 2014 breach, disclosed in September 2016, involved data from at least 500 million users. In December 2016, the company revealed that more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts had been breached in 2013. “The SEC has investigated multiple companies over whether they properly disclosed hacks,” notes WSJ, especially after the 2013 Target breach “that compromised up to 70 million credit and debit-card accounts.” Continue reading SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

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