Apple will Modify App Purchases with More Parental Control

The Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday that Apple has agreed to better enforce parental approval of purchases from the company’s App Store. Apple will also refund at least $32.5 million to parents whose children made purchases without their consent. Apple settled a related class-action lawsuit last year, but the FTC said that the problem continued after the settlement, so Apple has agreed to further modify its practices. Continue reading Apple will Modify App Purchases with More Parental Control

Vint Cerf at FTC Event: “Privacy May Actually Be an Anomaly”

Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google and co-creator of the Internet’s key networking technology, delivered the keynote address at the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet of Things workshop this week in Washington, DC. Cerf suggested that privacy is a relatively new development that may not be sustainable. “Privacy may actually be an anomaly,” he said while taking questions, noting that privacy was not even guaranteed just a few decades ago. Continue reading Vint Cerf at FTC Event: “Privacy May Actually Be an Anomaly”

Facebook Under Fire for Decision to Make Teens’ Posts Public

Facebook announced this week that it would allow teenage users between 13 and 17 to make their posts public so that they can be seen by anyone on the social network, underscoring the competition between today’s social platforms to reach the teen audience and attract advertisers. Previously, the posts of teenage users could only be viewed by friends and friends of friends. While drawing criticism from privacy advocate groups, the move will enable Facebook to operate more like its rival Twitter. Continue reading Facebook Under Fire for Decision to Make Teens’ Posts Public

Nielsen to Include Tablets and Phones in TV Viewership Data

At this week’s Advertising Week conference in New York, Nielsen is expected to announce that it will start incorporating viewership on mobile devices into its TV ratings system in the fall of 2014. The move is in response to changing viewership trends in addition to networks and industry analysts that have been critical of the company’s slow adoption of new technologies. Nielsen’s ratings data helps determine how advertisers spend about $66 billion each year. Continue reading Nielsen to Include Tablets and Phones in TV Viewership Data

Transparency: Acxiom Shows Consumers What Data it Collects

The Acxiom Corporation, a marketing technology firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas, announced on Wednesday a new website that will offer consumers a chance to view some of the data that the company has collected about them. While the site is a step toward addressing the government’s push for increased transparency from the data brokerage industry, critics believe it actually presents a rather sanitized look at data mining and marketing. Continue reading Transparency: Acxiom Shows Consumers What Data it Collects

New FTC Chair Warns Companies About Consumer Data Privacy

The new chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Edith Ramirez, says that the agency will pursue a more active role in policing companies that gather large amounts of data, and that the FTC will not hesitate to sue for privacy and security violations. Ramirez wants more transparency from companies that collect consumer data, as well as to keep this data anonymous. Ramirez did not provide specifics regarding how the FTC will enforce data protection guidelines. Continue reading New FTC Chair Warns Companies About Consumer Data Privacy

Obama Administration Vetoes ITC Ban on iPhones and iPads

In a rare move this weekend, the Obama administration vetoed the International Trade Commission’s ban on the import and sale of certain Apple iPhones and iPads. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman cited concerns regarding patent holders gaining “undue leverage.” He also noted the potential harm to consumers and competition in the economy. The veto reverses a legal victory for rival Samsung, although Froman said the company can continue to enforce its patents through the courts. Continue reading Obama Administration Vetoes ITC Ban on iPhones and iPads

Federal Government Faces Decision Whether to Veto ITC Order

In June, the International Trade Commission found that Apple infringed on a Samsung patent, and declared a ban on some older iPhone and iPad models. The trade agency oversees certain unfair trade practices and can block imports and sales of products. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have been concerned with companies using essential technology patent lawsuits to block rivals, and are troubled with the ITC ruling. The Obama administration is now faced with whether it should veto the order. Continue reading Federal Government Faces Decision Whether to Veto ITC Order

Code of Conduct to Disclose What Data Mobile Apps Collect

A group of app developers, consumer advocates and others are agreeing to test a voluntary code of conduct for data privacy for mobile apps. The code would set requirements for participating developers to release notices regarding whether their apps collect certain types of personal information or share user specific data with third party groups or data resellers. The Obama administration favors consumer privacy laws, but has yet to release additional details. Continue reading Code of Conduct to Disclose What Data Mobile Apps Collect

FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

Edith Ramirez, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, presented her recommendation for an investigation into the practices of “patent trolls” yesterday during a patent and antitrust seminar in Washington. Ramirez is calling for the FTC to use its subpoena power to launch a sweeping inquiry into patent-assertion entities (PAE’s, or patent trolls), which are known for purchasing bundles of patents in order to threaten infringement lawsuits. Continue reading FTC Chair Proposes Inquiry into Impact of Patent Trolls

FTC Issues Warnings to Firms that Share Consumer Info

The Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters earlier this week to 10 data brokerage firms. The agency warned the firms that the gathering and selling of consumer information could be in violation of federal privacy laws. The new letters follow last month’s action by the FTC when it issued similar warnings to six companies who offered to share tenants’ rental histories with landlords. Continue reading FTC Issues Warnings to Firms that Share Consumer Info

COPPA Changes Could Affect Mobile Game Development

The Federal Trade Commission has made changes to the COPPA laws in regards to the definition of a “children’s app.” Changes to the online privacy rules will go into effect July 1, with an emphasis on data collection practices, which could mean that requesting information or images from mobile devices could be viewed as a violation. Several developers are scaling back on game production in order to avoid being penalized by the FTC. Continue reading COPPA Changes Could Affect Mobile Game Development

Coalition of 38 States Draws Up Security Steps for Google

After a two-year investigation into whether or not Google’s Street View violates privacy protections, law enforcement officials have again told the company it is time to shape up. Google acknowledged breaches this week and said no longer will there be a scenario in which a midlevel engineer launches a program to secretly gather data from possibly millions of unencrypted global Wi-Fi networks, unbeknownst to his bosses. Continue reading Coalition of 38 States Draws Up Security Steps for Google

Mobile Revolution: Google Dominates Mobile Search…For Now

According to Google, which underwent an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission recently, the speed of change in the tech industry makes it impossible for regulators to impose restrictions without holding up the progress of future innovations. And the commission agreed, dropping all charges against the search giant. Continue reading Mobile Revolution: Google Dominates Mobile Search…For Now

FTC Mobile Apps for Kids Report Finds Little Progress in Privacy

  • The Federal Trade Commission’s staff report, “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” analyzes mobile applications aimed at children, and finds that little progress has been made since last year in terms of warning, or even informing, parents about the data collection in applications.
  • The report notes that the applications have interactive features and social media sharing that can send information on the children to advertising companies or analytics companies without seeking parental consent. Some applications do not even disclose the actions to parents, according to the report.
  • “While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes to protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “In fact, our study shows that kids’ apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents.”
  • “All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job,” he added. “We’ll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement.”
  • The report, which examined disclosures within the app, disclosures on the promotion page in the app store, and at the app developer’s website, found “most apps failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data.”
  • “Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties — such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number — without disclosing that fact to parents,” according to the report.