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Google and YouTube Will Pay Record $170 Million for Alleged Violations of Children’s Privacy Law

Google and its subsidiary YouTube will pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that the YouTube video sharing service illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

A Preview of the FCC's July Open Meeting: Taking the "E" Out of EBS and TV

Perhaps the biggest news of the week was the agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's July 10 Open Meeting, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out in a blog post on June 18, 2019. I'm traveling to New York this week; below is a shorter-than-usual weekly that takes a look at how Chairman Pai plans to take education out of the Educational Broadband Service -- and broadcast television.

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

At least 75 companies receive anonymous, precise location data from apps whose users enable location services to get local news and weather or other information. Several of those businesses claim to track up to 200 million mobile devices in the United States. The database reveals people’s travels in startling detail, accurate to within a few yards and in some cases updated more than 14,000 times a day. These companies sell, use or analyze the data to cater to advertisers, retail outlets and even hedge funds seeking insights into consumer behavior.

Verizon to end location data sales to brokers

Verizon is pledging to stop selling information on phone owners’ locations to data brokers, stepping back from a business practice that has drawn criticism for endangering privacy. The data has allowed outside companies to pinpoint the location of wireless devices without their owners’ knowledge or consent. Verizon said that about 75 companies have been obtaining its customer data from two little-known CA-based brokers that Verizon supplies directly — LocationSmart and Zumigo.

Is Facebook a 'Bug' in Our Democracy? Part 3

[Commentary] We are in a brave new world. Facebook and 'Big Tech' have contributed to the erosion of our democratic discourse. We need to have these new titans assume responsibilities on par to the influence they have over our information ecosystem. We need to address this bug in our democracy. Short-term policy solutions can help curb some of Facebook’s harmful effects, but the larger task before policymakers -- and all of us -- is to critically examine the long-term health of our democratic discourse.

Is Facebook a 'Bug' in Our Democracy? Part 2

[Commentary] Is it time to recognize that Facebook, and ‘Big Tech’ at large, may be a bug in our democracy? In Part 1, I examined how the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica story illustrates the harmful effects of “Surveillance Capitalism.” The erosion of our privacy is contributing to the declining health of our democratic discourse.  Moreover though, Facebook has facilitated the proliferation of hate speech, fake news, and international electoral interference.

FTC’s Data-Speed Lawsuit Against AT&T Can Proceed, Appeals Court Says

A federal appeals court ruled the Federal Trade Commission can move forward with its lawsuit alleging AT&T misled wireless subscribers by reducing data speeds for several million customers who thought they had purchased unlimited plans. The ruling by the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals is a notable win for the FTC because it restores the agency’s regulatory authority over large internet service providers.

Economic Impact of Big Tech Platforms on the Viability of Local Broadcast News

Radio and television stations’ local content – particularly news – provides great value for audiences on the major technology platforms. However, broadcasters are not fairly compensated for this valuable content because of the way the markets currently operate. The reason for that is simple – these tech platforms have substantial market power in their provision of services, and they use that power for advancing their own growth and benefit to the detriment of local broadcast journalism.

Why Verizon sold AOL and Yahoo for about 1% of their peak valuation

The upcoming sale of Yahoo and AOL to a private equity firm for $5 billion represents a massive media markdown. At their dotcom bubble peaks, Yahoo and AOL were valued at more than $125 billion and $200 billion, respectively, or $193 billion and $318 billion in 2021 dollars. AOL made one giant mistake. It famously bought Time Warner for $182 billion in cash and stock in 2000, saddling the company with debt just before the dotcom bubble burst and the rise of broadband made AOL's dial-up services virtually obsolete.

Reporting the Broadband Floor

Recently, Deb Socia posted a brilliant suggestion online: “[Internet service providers] need to identify the floor instead of the potential ceiling. Instead of ‘up to’ speeds, how about we say ‘at least’”. ISPs must report the slowest speed they are likely to deliver. I want to be fair to ISPs and I suggest they report both the minimum “at least” speed and the maximum “up to” speed. Those two numbers will tell the right story to the public because together they provide the range of speeds being delivered in a given Census.