A look at how companies try to reach potential customers.
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.
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.
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 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.
[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.
[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.
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.
"With more than two billion users Facebook is bigger than Christianity,” says Stanford law professor Jim Steyer. “Their ability to amplify hate speech or white supremacy or racist messages is so extraordinary because of the scale of the platform.” It’s a typically bold statement from the man who set up the Stop Hate for Profit (SHFP) campaign calling on advertisers to withdraw from Facebook for the month of July. More than 500 firms have joined the temporary boycott, including Coca-Cola, Adidas and Unilever.
They say it is best not to talk politics among friends. But in trying to avoid the conversation, Facebook has stepped right into the thick of it. Now, some of its most valuable relationships are at risk. Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, Facebook has been no stranger to controversies ranging from election misinformation, security breaches, violent content and more.
With five months to go until a presidential election that promises to be a major test of American democratic institutions, American laws are in desperate need of update to address digital forms of voter suppression and how political debate and campaigning has moved online. Several ideas for rules that government could enact to provide the necessary transparency to help ensure that voter suppression does not run unchecked online include: