A look at how companies try to reach potential customers.

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.

Upstream demand driven by 'marketing,' not true usage, Charter CEO says

Charter Communications is upgrading its widespread hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks to support faster speeds. But the demand for lofty upstream speeds is not being driven by actual customer usage, according to CFO Chris Winfrey. "The upstream demand today is much more of a marketing campaign as opposed to any real product demand," said Winfrey. Upstream usage soared during the early stages of the pandemic as people worked and schooled from home, but downstream usage still exceeds upstream usage by a wide margin.

T-Mobile advised to stop using ‘fast’ and ‘reliable’ in FWA ads

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs told T-Mobile to stop claiming its T-Mobile Home Internet service is “fast” and “reliable.” Of course, that didn’t go over well at T-Mobile, which is appealing parts of the NAD decision that came after a complaint was lodged by rival Comcast. NAD told T-Mobile to discontinue claims that its home internet service is “fast” or “high speed” or modify its advertising to avoid conveying a message that the service will be “fast” or “high speed” for all fixed wireless access (FWA) customers. T-Mobile Home Internet (T-HINT) customers

Apple beefs up smartphone services in ‘silent war’ against Google

Apple is taking steps to separate its mobile operating system from features offered by Google, making advances around maps, search and advertising that have created a collision course between the Big Tech companies. The two Silicon Valley giants have been rivals in the smartphone market since Google acquired and popularized the Android operating system in the 2000s. Apple is still engaged in a “silent war” against its arch-rival by developing features that could allow the iPhone maker to further separate its products from services offered by Google. The first front of this battle is mapping