TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

TikTok is taking steps to ensure U.S. user data is secure and that young people will be protected from harmful content, company CEO Shou Zi Chew said at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit. “We have very rigorous data-access protocols,” the executive said Wednesday, addressing concerns expressed by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. Chew said TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, plans to work with Oracle as its data storage provider based in large part on the company’s strong security protocols. Continue reading TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids

A coalition of more than 20 advocacy groups with an interest in child safety is petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to prohibit social media platforms including TikTok as well as online games and other services from bombarding kids with ads and using other tactics that may hook children online. Regulators are being lobbied to prevent online services from offering minors “low-friction rewards” — unpredictably granting positive reinforcement for scrolling, tapping or logging on to prolonged use. The groups say the technique is the same used by slot machine makers to keep gamblers engaged. Continue reading Advocacy Groups Seek to Enact Online Rules to Protect Kids

IAB Says FTC Digital Ad Inquiry May End Up Costing Billions

The advertising industry is pushing back against the Federal Trade Commission’s exploration of rulemaking as relates to collecting personal data to serve ads, which the FTC is calling a crackdown on “commercial surveillance.” The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) says the FTC’s definition of that loaded term is “so broad” that any resultant rulemaking “could criminalize the Internet itself” as well as potentially reduce digital ad spending by billions of dollars. FTC chair Lina Khan says “potentially unlawful practices may be prevalent” in the “endless hoovering up of sensitive user data” that has become common practice in ad targeting. Continue reading IAB Says FTC Digital Ad Inquiry May End Up Costing Billions

Musk Takes to Twitter Spaces to Share Plans for the Platform

Elon Musk is seeking a payments system for Twitter as he pursues his plan to make it a “super app” along the lines of China’s WeChat. Musk outlined his vision in a live presentation on Twitter Spaces to more than 100,000 users and advertisers, including reps from Adidas, Kate Spade, Nissan and Walgreens. Musk has been brainstorming with confidants over ways to improve Twitter and make it profitable. Last week, Twitter filed registration paperwork with the Treasury Department for approval to add payments. Meanwhile, top privacy and security executives are leaving the company after Musk told employees “bankruptcy isn’t out of the question.” Continue reading Musk Takes to Twitter Spaces to Share Plans for the Platform

Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

The two individuals who once ran MoviePass have been charged with engaging in a criminal scheme to defraud investors of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), a publicly traded company based in Florida and New York that invested and then took over the subscription-based movie ticketing service. Ted Farnsworth, former chairman and CEO of MoviePass parent HMNY, and Mitch Lowe, former MoviePass CEO, are each charged with one count of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud. If convicted, the Florida men face possible prison time of 20 years per count. Continue reading Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

Cybersecurity Labeling System Coming to IoT Devices in 2023

The Biden administration is implementing a cybersecurity labeling program designed to protect consumers using Internet of Things devices from “significant national security risks.” Beginning in the spring of 2023, IoT smart hardware will begin carrying a “label for products that meet U.S. government standards and are tested by vetted and approved entities,” according to the White House. The program will start with high-risk devices like routers and cameras. To jump-start the initiative, the White House hosted an IoT Cybersecurity Summit attended by national security officials, hardware manufacturers and representatives from consumer product associations. Continue reading Cybersecurity Labeling System Coming to IoT Devices in 2023

Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has rendered a final decision ordering Meta Platforms to sell its Giphy marketplace for animated GIFs. Meta acquired the U.S.-based Giphy in 2020. The CMA subsequently found the purchase anticompetitive, determining the move would stunt innovation in UK display advertising and limit social media choices for consumers. After Meta failed to decisively win an appeal, the matter went back to the CMA, which this week reaffirmed its earlier decision and ordered Giphy sold. Meta said in a statement it is “disappointed by the CMA’s decision,” but won’t pursue further appeal. Continue reading Meta Says It Will Sell Giphy per UK Competition Unit’s Order

Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter shareholders this week approved the $44 billion takeover bid by Elon Musk, voting the same day as whistleblower Peiter Zatko testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, telling lawmakers that the social media company’s leadership misled regulators about security failures. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was skeptical as to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal keeping his job if Zatko’s allegations prove to be true, saying the executive “rejected this committee’s invitation by claiming that it would jeopardize Twitter’s ongoing litigation” with Musk. Twitter has categorically denied Zatko’s claims, which include foreign agents infiltrating Twitter’s workforce. Continue reading Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

FTC Explores New Rules Surrounding Data Collection and AI

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to create rules that would protect the digital privacy of teens. Human Rights Watch is asking the FTC for safeguards to prevent education companies from selling minors’ personal information to data brokers and a ban on data-driven advertising targeting children. Both groups were represented at the FTC’s first public forum to explore adopting new rules around data collection and AI training on personal data. Practices the FTC is examining include the timeframe in which companies can retain consumer data and mandating audits of automated decision-making systems. Continue reading FTC Explores New Rules Surrounding Data Collection and AI

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

Meta Tentatively Settles the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Suit

Meta Platforms has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by users who accused its Facebook platform of improperly sharing personal data with third parties including, most notoriously, the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica. Financial details were not disclosed, but on Friday both Meta and the plaintiffs said in a joint filing in San Francisco federal court that the parties reached a tentative settlement. The UK-based Cambridge Analytica shuttered in 2018 after a scandal involving use of Facebook data to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Continue reading Meta Tentatively Settles the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Suit

Charges Made by Twitter Whistleblower Could Benefit Musk

A former Twitter security chief may be Elon Musk’s white knight in the billionaire’s effort to get out of his contract to purchase Twitter for $54.20 per share ($44 billion). Peiter Zatko filed a whistleblower disclosure to Congress and federal agencies claiming Twitter not only deceived shareholders and the public by misrepresenting its bot count and security measures, but also alleging “that one or more current employees may be working for a foreign intelligence service,” according to CNN. If true, the allegations would violate a 2011 agreement between Twitter and the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Charges Made by Twitter Whistleblower Could Benefit Musk

Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

Meta Platforms’ revenue dropped 1 percent in the second quarter, totaling $28.8 billion, just missing Wall Street’s expectation. It was the first year-over-year revenue drop since the company went public 10 years ago. Meta logged $6.69 billion in Q2 profit, down 36 percent over the same period in 2021. Costs increased by 22 percent, largely due to ongoing heavy investment in the metaverse, where the company’s ambitions took a hit Wednesday when the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to prevent Meta from buying Los Angeles-based virtual reality firm Within. Continue reading Profits Down as FTC Sues Meta to Block Purchase of Within

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

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal