FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

The Federal Communications Commission has unveiled specifics for new labels that clarify hidden fees and surprise rate hikes on consumer broadband services. Broadband providers will be required to display, at the point of sale, labels that show key information about prices, speeds, fees, data allowances, and other key information using a format that resembles the familiar “nutrition labels” that appear on food products. Emphasizing broadband as “an essential service, for everyone, everywhere,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the labeling rules apply to both wired and wireless services. Continue reading FCC Rules Require ISPs Provide Broadband Nutrition Labels

TikTok Draws Criticism for Undisclosed Sponsored Content

TikTok is facing blowback for lax advertising disclosures. While the platform offers various ways to identify paid promotion, its marketing policies appear to operate on an honor system, and while some creators label their posts as advertising or partnerships, many do not. Where a financial relationship exists with regard to products mentioned, the truth in advertising rules enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general require media partners to disclose that funds will change hands. As part of a renewed national interest in digital consumer protections, particularly related to child safety, the area is getting increased scrutiny. Continue reading TikTok Draws Criticism for Undisclosed Sponsored Content

State AGs Launch Investigation into Effects of TikTok on Kids

A group of state attorneys general has announced an investigation into TikTok and the potential harm it may cause younger users. The fact-finding is not unlike that launched by top state legal advisors last year into Meta Platforms. The bipartisan group is exploring whether TikTok is violating state consumer protection laws with engagement tactics that may cause minors to become “hooked” on the app. Kids in the age of social media “feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens,” said California attorney general Rob Bonta. Continue reading State AGs Launch Investigation into Effects of TikTok on Kids

EU’s Data Governance Act Targets Growth of Digital Economy

The European Parliament and EU Member States have reached an agreement on the Data Governance Act, clearing the way for final approval on legislation. The Data Governance Act is a framework designed to encourage sharing under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), consumer protection laws and competition rules. The goal is to develop common European data spaces in areas such as manufacturing, cultural heritage and health. The Data Governance Act is the first of two steps. The EU’s Data Act — which promotes data sharing among EU member states, businesses and government — will soon be formally proposed. Continue reading EU’s Data Governance Act Targets Growth of Digital Economy

Facebook Is Criticized for Continuing to Collect Data of Teens

After Facebook promised in July that it would limit its algorithms that track online behavior of users under 18 as a step toward curtailing a method used by advertisers to target children and teenagers, the social giant is again being accused of collecting such data. Facebook was found harvesting data of young users through its ad delivery system, according to a report published by advocacy groups Fairplay, Global Action Plan and Reset Australia. The research suggests that Facebook is maintaining the ability to track younger users so that it can maximize engagement and increase advertising revenue. Continue reading Facebook Is Criticized for Continuing to Collect Data of Teens

Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

Whistleblower Frances Haugen said on “60 Minutes” Sunday night that Facebook was cognizant of problems with apps, including Instagram, that allowed misinformation to be spread and caused societal harm, especially among young girls. Haugen revealed on the CBS news show to be the source of documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal that led to congressional inquiry. She also filed eight complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging Facebook hid research from investors and the public. The former product manager worked for nearly two years on the civic integrity team before exiting the social network in May. Continue reading Whistleblower Contends Facebook Values Profits Over Safety

CES 2020: A Fireside Chat with FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro held court with two high-level government leaders: FTC chair Joseph Simons and FCC chair Ajit Pai, in two separate, 30-minute CES sessions. Simons first took the stage and described the Federal Trade Commission’s mission as two-fold: competition and consumer protection. “As we get further into the digital age, privacy concerns are becoming more important,” he said, noting that the FTC Act governing these concerns is 100 years old. “It’s time for Congress to adopt something more modern.” Continue reading CES 2020: A Fireside Chat with FTC Chair Joseph Simons

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

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

In a meeting of nine state officials and representatives of five other states led by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the market dominance and privacy practices of large tech companies were discussed, as well as the possibility of a joint investigation of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and others. Attorney General Doug Peterson (R-Nebraska) said his state is examining just such a multi-state inquiry into antitrust and consumer protection issues. Potential political bias, a previously raised topic, was barely touched. Continue reading State Officials Consider a Joint Investigation of Tech Players

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

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

Google Settles with FTC, Will Refund $19 Million to Customers

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that Google will refund consumers at least $19 million for unauthorized charges that resulted from their children making in-app purchases on Android mobile devices. The FTC alleged that Google was guilty of unfair commercial practices since 2011 by making it relatively simple for children to make purchases from the Google Play store without permission. As part of the settlement, Google will also be required to modify its billing practices. Continue reading Google Settles with FTC, Will Refund $19 Million to Customers