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.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking the public’s input on ways to modernize the agency’s business guidance titled “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.” First published in March 2013, this resource provides guidance to businesses on digital advertising and marketing. As digital deception grows in sophistication, some companies are wrongly citing the guides to justify practices that mislead consumers online.
Google Fiber agreed to alter its advertisements after the National Advertising Division (NAD) determined a number of its speed claims were unsupported, including the assertion that its service can provide “faster download speeds than you'd get with traditional cable.” The decision followed a challenge from cable player Charter Communications. In addition to the aforementioned claim, NAD also ruled against Google’s claims that it offers up to 77 times faster uploads and up to 12 times faster downloads.
Sens Mike Lee (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act. The bill would restore and protect competition in digital advertising by eliminating conflicts of interest that have allowed the leading platforms in the market to manipulate ad auctions and impose monopoly rents on a broad swath of the US economy.