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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.

Subsidizing Universal Broadband Through a Digital Advertising Services Fee: An Alignment of Incentives

With the transition of millions of children and post-secondary students to online-based emergency remote teaching and the widespread need for online telecommuting, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for nationwide reliable broadband access. A fixed, landline Internet connection is critical not only for education, but also for locating and applying for a job, working remotely, and partaking in telemedicine treatments.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for August Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the August Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 5, 2021:

Mobile marketing booms, but consumer privacy concerns remain

The Mobile Marketing Association and WARC's new joint "State of the Industry" report found that while mobile marketing budgets boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, connsumer privacy concerns remain a significant barrier to growth. The top-line finding of the report is that two out of three marketers boosted their mobile marketing budgets over the past year, at least partly due to the acceleration of ecommerce following the pandemic. And while marketers appear to be more optimistic about almost every potential barrier to further mobile marketing budget growth, consumers' concern over their p