FCC Votes to End Cable and Satellite Early Termination Fees

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to eliminate penalties for early termination and other so-called junk fees from cable and direct broadcast satellite television providers. The agency will also be studying the impact of such practices on consumers, which it believes may be subject to undue hardship when penalized for things like moving, unexpected financial hardship or poor service. During its December Open Meeting last week, the FCC voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) to end what it appears to feel are unjustified fees that also potentially harm competition by adding costs to switching services. Continue reading FCC Votes to End Cable and Satellite Early Termination Fees

FCC Teams with States to Monitor ISPs on Consumer Privacy

The Federal Communications Commission has set its sights on Internet service providers, formalizing an understanding with state attorneys general to protect consumer data and police privacy abuses. Initially, the memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the FCC’s Privacy and Data Protection Task Force includes the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania, but could expand. As per the MOU, the entities will “share close and common legal interests in working cooperatively to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute or otherwise take enforcement action” in relation to privacy, data protection and cybersecurity issues. Continue reading FCC Teams with States to Monitor ISPs on Consumer Privacy

California Privacy Protection Agency Issues Draft Rules for AI

The California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) is preparing new regulations to protect consumers from how businesses may potentially use AI. The state regulator, whose rulings have an outsized influence on Big Tech given the many large firms that are headquartered there, has issued draft rules for how consumer data can be used in what it is calling “automated decisionmaking technology,” or ADMT. The proposed regulations give consumers the right to opt out of ADMT and entitles the public to on-demand information as how AI is interacting with their data and how businesses plan to use it. Continue reading California Privacy Protection Agency Issues Draft Rules for AI

Google Seeks Out Scammers Using Bard to Spread Malware

Google has filed suit in federal district court in California to stop alleged fraudsters from leveraging public interest in artificial intelligence generally and Bard in particular to spread malware. The perpetrators, who are believed to be based in Vietnam, are said to be using Facebook to promote an “unpublished” version of Bard that when downloaded installs password-stealing malware into the host system. The suit claims the scammers are using Google’s trademark-protected intellectual property — including its name and that of Bard, its brand look and colors, and photographs of CEO Sundar Pichai to promote an illegal scheme. Continue reading Google Seeks Out Scammers Using Bard to Spread Malware

Newsom Makes California ‘Delete Act’ Data Protections Law

Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 362, also known as the Delete Act, into law on Tuesday, giving California consumers the ability to demand all data brokers delete their personal information with a single request. The Delete Act expands privacy controls for state residents, giving the California Privacy Protection Agency more power to regulate data brokers, who will face strict penalties for failing to comply. The new law, authored by state Senator Josh Becker, makes California the first U.S. state to create a convenient deletion mechanism for consumers who don’t want their personal information held or sold by data brokers. Continue reading Newsom Makes California ‘Delete Act’ Data Protections Law

California Plans to Protect Consumer Privacy with Delete Act

California lawmakers have put data brokers on notice. A bill known as the Delete Act would allow consumers to require all such information peddlers to delete their personal information with a single request. The bill defines “data brokers” as any number of businesses that collect and sell people’s personal information, including residential address, marital status and purchases. Both houses last week passed the proposed legislation — Senate Bill 362 — and it now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk. If he signs it, the new law will go into effect in January 2026. Continue reading California Plans to Protect Consumer Privacy with Delete Act

FTC Investigates OpenAI Over Data Policies, Misinformation

The Federal Trade Commission has opened a civil investigation into OpenAI to determine the extent to which its data policies are harmful to consumers as well as the potentially deleterious effects of misinformation spread through “hallucinations” by its ChatGPT chatbot. The FTC sent OpenAI dozens of questions last week in a 20-page letter instructing the company to contact FTC counsel “as soon as possible to schedule a telephonic meeting within 14 days.” The questions deal with everything from how the company trains its models to the handling of personal data. Continue reading FTC Investigates OpenAI Over Data Policies, Misinformation

Biden Supports FCC Plan for Multichannel Price Disclosures

The Federal Communications Commission proposed a rule that would require cable TV and multichannel satellite services to disclose full pricing for programming plans in consumer promotional materials and invoicing, a plan President Biden quickly endorsed. The intent is to clearly convey “all-in” costs as a prominent single line, avoiding taxes and surcharges excluded from sales pitches and sometimes difficult to decipher on bills. “Too often, these companies hide additional junk fees on customer bills disguised as ‘broadcast TV’ or ‘regional sports’ fees that in reality pay for no additional services,” Biden said. Continue reading Biden Supports FCC Plan for Multichannel Price Disclosures

FTC Sues Amazon Over Deceptive Practices Involving Prime

The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Amazon, alleging the e-commerce giant surreptitiously enrolled millions of people in the $139 per year Amazon Prime program, and once subscribed made it difficult for them to cancel. “Amazon tricked and trapped people into recurring subscriptions without their consent, not only frustrating users but also costing them significant money,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said, citing “deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically renewing Prime subscriptions.” Continue reading FTC Sues Amazon Over Deceptive Practices Involving Prime

SEC Provides Binance a Lifeline as It Pursues Fraud Charges

A federal court has approved an agreement between Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao and the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow the embattled cryptocurrency firm to continue operating while fighting an SEC civil fraud lawsuit, the outcome of which may determine the future of the crypto business in the United States. Filed June 5, the Binance charge rocked an industry already reeling from market turmoil and SEC complaints against Coinbase and the founder of FTX. The SEC initially moved to freeze Binance’s U.S. assets, but the company said that would put it out of business here. Continue reading SEC Provides Binance a Lifeline as It Pursues Fraud Charges

Amazon Uses AI to Summarize Legit Reviews and Flag Fakes

Amazon has tapped artificial intelligence to summarize some of its product reviews. The feature, currently being tested, sifts through customer reviews to create lists of what purchasers like and dislike. The summaries carry the disclaimer “AI-generated from the text of customer reviews.” The move comes as Amazon is also deploying AI to weed out “fake” reviews supplied by “review brokers” who are also now able to leverage the power of AI. Amazon, which has identified phony reviews as a major problem, now uses machine learning models to detect fraudulent behavior by analyzing thousands of data points. Continue reading Amazon Uses AI to Summarize Legit Reviews and Flag Fakes

Google Ads Transparency Center Offers Searchable Ad Data

Google is launching an Ads Transparency Center. The “searchable hub” rolls out to global users in the coming weeks and lets anyone look up who’s behind an ad, which ads an advertiser ran and where across Google Search, YouTube and the Google Display Network. Additional details are provided for political ads, including the amount spent, number of impressions and any location targeting criteria. In 2020 Google began requiring that advertisers verify their identities, and a year later began letting users access some ad info, but its transparency move follows Facebook’s similar offering, which launched in 2019. Continue reading Google Ads Transparency Center Offers Searchable Ad Data

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