Carrier must pay $40M in refunds to customers for restricting unlimited data plans
A carrier has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over complaints it offered mobile phone contracts that claim to have "unlimited" data, but turn out do not. TracFone was accused by the FTC of capping and throttling customers on the "unlimited" plans, with the carrier agreeing to pay out $40 million in refunds to consumers as part of its settlement.
Penalties of up to $16,000 could be assessed for each call
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has decided that Dish Network is liable for making 57 million phone calls in flagrant violation of telemarketing laws, including calling members of the "Do Not Call" list established by the US Government. A trial has been set for July in Illinois, with penalties of up to $16,000 possible for each violation. The Department of Justice filed the complaint at the FTC's request in March 2009. The US Department of Justice, on behalf of the FTC, is jointly litigating the case with four state co-plaintiffs -- California, Illinois, Ohio, and North Carolina.
Focus Eduction forced to drop unproven boast to improve childrens' concentration
A posting by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) today describes a settlement between it and Texas software developer, Focus Education. The complaint, filed by the FTC, was over statements made by Focus on its website and infomercials regarding the benefits of playing its iFocus System "brain training" games.
Forces company to claim 'common carrier' status to avoid FTC jurisdiction
In order to nullify a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that the carrier was still throttling users on unlimited plans even when there was no network congestion, AT&T is claiming for the purposes of the lawsuit that it qualifies as a Title II "common carrier." This is the opposite of what it has told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with regards to possible actual Title II regulation of broadband.
Snapchat to submit to independent monitoring of privacy policies for 20 years
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has finally finalized its settlement with Snapchat over privacy issues. Initially settled in May but only finalized by the FTC on December 23, the settlement requires the messaging service to allow itself to be subjected to independent privacy monitoring for a 20-year period, among other items.
Refunds to T-Mobile customers affected by cramming charges incoming
T-Mobile has settled a lawsuit with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over complaints the carrier allowed third-party companies to place unauthorized charges to customer bills. As part of the "cramming" settlement, T-Mobile has agreed to pay out at least $90 million in fines and refunds, as well as altering its third-party billing practices.
Products like YouTube, Chrome could be created for kids under the age of 12
Starting next year, Google will be tinkering with new versions of some of its most popular products. While the search giant often experiments with its services and various consumer offerings, the upcoming venture is a little different. Instead of improving or completely changing existing products, the company is going to create specific versions for children ages 12 and younger.
Cash, credit payments up to $50 going to early buyers during three month period
In a release from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier today, the agency announced that Sony Computer Entertainment America would be paying out settlements to those that were misled by a PlayStation Vita advertising campaign that started before the handheld console released in February 2012. Under the settlement, Sony will pay out $25 in cash or $50 in merchandise credit for select games and services -- but what sort of impact will this cause for Sony? Electronista dives into the numbers to look at the potential $28.7 million the company will need to pay out.
Advertising promised 'game changing' features in ads, Sony never delivered
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Sony Computer Entertainment America reached a settlement today over advertising promises that were made for the PlayStation Vita leading up to its launch in February 2012. According to the FTC, Sony and advertising agency Deutsch LA promised "game changing" features in a 2011 ad campaign that misled consumers.
FTC settlement involves providing refunds to customers affected by premium SMS subscriptions
AT&T has been hit with a $105 million fine for allowing "premium" SMS subscriptions and other charges to be applied to customer accounts, a practice known as "cramming." The carrier has settled with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the charges, with the majority of the settlement devoted to paying back affected customers.
Dueling regulatory boards fight over future of ISP regulation
Allegedly concerned about protecting the American consumer, US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) head Maureen Ohlhausen has come out as strongly against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler's net neutrality provision -- specifically, the possibility of Title II regulation of ISPs. The comment against the possibility of regulating Internet providers as a utility is the FTC's second in September.
Suit alleges deceptive practices, money dispersion, misuse of company funds
More controversy is further tarnishing virtual currency Bitcoin's reputation. Last week, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a civil suit against Butterfly Labs, creator and manufacturer of Bitcoin mining rigs. The suit alleges that the three members of the board of directors have engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices, plus misappropriation of company funding.
Penalties issued in upwards of $450,000 over information collected in violation of COPPA
Popular online review site Yelp and mobile application developer TinyCo have decided to settle their respective charges with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the collection of personal information from children. The FTC states that in both cases, the information was collected in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Unfettered Google Play in-app purchase solved with 2012 password requirement
Google has offered to settle charges levied against it with the the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over unfair billing for in-app purchases made by children. The search engine giant has offered to pay out at least $19 million to end the suit, similar to that faced by Apple and Amazon.
General counsel forwarded Consumer Reports article to commissioners
Apple's general counsel, Bruce Sewell, tried to get the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate in-app purchase policies at Google Play, an email obtained via the Freedom of Information Act shows. Days after Apple agreed to pay a $32.5 million settlement over its own approach to in-app purchases, Sewell forwarded a Consumer Reports story to FTC commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill. The article accused Google of being equally lax, and letting children spend their parents' money "like a drunken sailor."
EPIC claims social media giant 'purposefully messed with people's minds'
If Facebook hasn't received enough flak for the emotional manipulation study it conducted on its user base, the company could soon face more from regulators. Last week, privacy watchdog group the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the one-week study Facebook conducted in 2012 that manipulated users' news feeds.
Letter to the FTC says news of a possible complaint filing is 'deeply disappointing'
Amazon has decided to take a hard line against the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) pressure to change their approach to in-app purchases. In a letter to the commission, the company stated that it would defend its "customer-centric approach" if the FCC pursued a complaint in Federal court. The government agency is considering suing Amazon over what it calls lax practices to prevent any possibility of unauthorized buying of in-app purchases (IAPs), for example by children.
Commission wants more control in users' hands, regulation in industry
In a recent report put together by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the commission asks Congress for regulation on the practices of data collection by data brokers. While the FTC has been studying the practice of data collection for a number of years, it has yet to see action come at the government over what the companies involved are able to do with the data. One thing the FTC would like to see is some of the control over data being placed back into the hands of the people.
WhatsApp must continue existing policy of not collecting user data
Social network giant Facebook said earlier today that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved the multi-billion-dollar acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp. As part of the deal, both companies must adhere to existing user privacy agreements, including a WhatsApp promise made while independent to not collect user personal data for targeted advertising.
App Store loopholes must be closed by April
Apple must pay out at least $32.5 million in refunds to settle a lawsuit brought by the US Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchases, the two parties have announced. Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, states in a memo to workers that while it "doesn't feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled" -- something he calls "double jeopardy" -- the "consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."
Brightest Flashlight app shared location data with advertisers
An app developer has settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over charges that it had shared user data without permission. GoldenShores Technologies, creators of the free Brightest Flashlight app, "deceived consumers" by collecting and sharing geolocation data and unique device identifiers to advertising networks and third parties.
Commission seeks public comments
The US Federal Trade Commission has announced that it is opening an investigation into patent assertion entities (PAEs), commonly referred to using the derisive term "patent trolls." The commission cautions that its initial move is limited to information gathering, focusing on approximately 25 companies whose primary business model involves purchasing patents and filing infringement lawsuits.
New limited opt-out provisos may violate 2011, 2013 agreements
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is evaluating if Facebook has violated an agreement it signed with the federal government in 2011 when it recently changed privacy policies for users. The agreement required Facebook to acquire the explicit permission of users before exposing private information, and Facebook's implementation of this agreement with the new policies may be in error, violating either the 2011 accord or the "sponsored stories" class action suit this year.
Google dodges fines again, sees increased supervision of licensing
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a modified final order, settling charges that Google's Motorola Mobility refused to license standards-essential patents (SEPs) on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The deal is not terribly restrictive, nor bears any financial penalty for the search engine giant, but will subject Motorola Mobility to additional federal scrutiny for a decade.
2007 acquisition of advertising company DoubleClick at core of complaint
According to sources discovered by both Reuters and Bloomberg, US regulators are looking into the possibility of a new antitrust probe against Google. This new action would investigate complaints that the search engine breaks laws in how it markets and sells some advertising across the Internet.
Agency preps developers for changes to important act
The US Federal Trade Commission has started sending out two letters to app developers, preparing them for changes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act taking effect July 1st, according to an announcement. The letters warn developers that restrictions on the collection of personal data from kids under 13 have been expanded, and now cover things like audio or video bearing a child's likeness. Previously, rules only covered the gathering of names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Two proposals share prize for blocking marketing calls
The Federal Trade Commission has announced the winners of its contest to block illegal automated marketing calls. Two proposals share the $50,000 Robocall Challenge bounty, with entries from Serdar Danis and Aaron Foss using a combination of intercepting a call, using blacklists and whitelists, and a Captcha-style audio test on unknown callers.
Blog post decries FTC actions; calls it 'missed opportunity'
In the wake of the Federal Trade Commission's announcement of the conclusion of its probe of potentially anti-competitive actions by Google, Microsoft has chimed in on the ruling. A blog post by Microsoft Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner slams the "weak" ruling by the FTC, calling it "troubling" and "unusual." The Microsoft attorney believes that the FTC erred by not forcing Google to submit to a document enforcing consequences if the search engine giant reverted to its previous practices.
Google agrees to end 'scraping' practice, allow data exports
The Federal Trade Commission has resolved its probe of search giant Google, it was announced today, with the regulatory body assessing light reprimands in exchange for Google agreeing to modify some of its business practices. The 10-year settlement Google reached with the FTC will require the company to fulfill prior promises to allow competitors access to standard-essential patents used in smartphones, laptops, tablets, and gaming consoles. The settlement brings to a close a 19-month antitrust probe by the FTC, one that looked at the ways in which Google handles its search results and whether the company uses its dominant position in the search market to crowd out other competitors across a number of services.
Apps, websites to require consent before obtaining data
The US Federal Trade Commission has formally updated rules derived from the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, better known as COPPA, says the Wall Street Journal. The act was originally passed by Congress in 1998, but subsequent evolution of the Internet prompted the FTC to start reconsidering its enforcement in 2010. Influenced by feedback, proposed changes started emerging last year.
Google expected to be forced to license FRAND patents
According to sources close to the Federal Trade Commission's negotiations with Google, the search engine could reach a deal this week regarding the use and licensing of Google-owned patents. Little information is available in regards to the terms of the settlement, and discussions are still ongoing, but the final settlement is likely to provide Google an avenue to continue legal cases involving its patents -- with the exception of those acquired with the purchase of Motorola Mobility. If true, the settlement could mean a major victory for both Apple and Microsoft.
California Democrats ask FTC not to accuse Google of unfair acts
Two California congresspersons have weighed in on the looming FTC antitrust case against Google, asking the Federal Trade Commission to refrain from accusing the search giant of "unfair" acts in building its antitrust case. The lawmakers -- both of which have received campaign contributions from Google -- allege that a reliance on "unfair" acts in building the FTC's case would amount to the agency overreaching its authority in pursuance of a case. Such an overreach, they say, could lead to difficulties and uncertainties for companies, stifling economic growth.
$22.5 million settlement could resolve cookie suit
At least one of Google's conflicts with the Federal Trade Commission may be close to a finish, as a San Francisco judge has signaled that she may approve a $22.5 million settlement over Google's placement of cookies on Apple's Safari browser. Google agreed to pay the fine in August of this year, and now U.S. District Judge Susan Illston has given a preliminary view that the $22.5 million fine will be adequate. A final ruling is expected soon.
Google hit with ultimatum: settle or face lawsuit
The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly pressuring search giant Google to resolve the issues in the agency's antitrust probe within the next few days or face a lawsuit. The FTC is concerned that Google is abusing its position as the world's dominant search engine, using its position to place its own services above those of competitors. The agency has reportedly been in negotiations with Google for some weeks now, and an antitrust lawsuit is a real possibility should Google prove unwilling or unable to make an acceptable proposal to the FTC.
Prize in place for a solution blocking illegal prerecorded calls
The Federal Trade Commission is offering a prize of $50,000 to anyone that can block automated marketing calls. The bounty on robocalls will be paid to the individual or small business that creates the best method to stop the robocalls, with no limits to what device or platform can be used in the solution.
Google's search market practices under the microscope
The Federal Trade Commission may be preparing to level an antitrust case against search giant Google, alleging that the company has illegally used its dominance of the search market to crowd out rivals. This according to Reuters, which cites sources familiar with the FTC's examination of Google in saying that a case may be forthcoming. Reportedly, the majority of the higher up decision makers at the FTC believe that an antitrust case should be brought, and a decision may be made as early as November or December.
Software allows for keylogging, remote webcam operation
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has settled with seven rent-to-own companies and software developer DesignerWare charged with using spyware to monitor locations, passwords, and other personal details of more than 420,000 customers leasing computers. A feature of a pre-installed piece of monitoring software allowed monitoring of renters, including location, websites visited, and the ability to remotely turn on the webcam on the leased computer.
Complaints also filed against General Mills, Subway, others
Seventeen child advocacy groups teamed up this week to file five separate Federal Trade Commission complaints against McDonalds, Subway, General Mills, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon for collecting children's email addresses without parental consent. Groups like the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest claim that the companies are acting in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Notes dissenting voice at FTC ruling
A non-profit activist group, Consumer Watchdog, says it is planning to block Google's $22.5 million settlement with the FTC for violating the privacy of Safari users, according to a press release. The organization notes that the settlement must still be approved by a federal judge, and says it's upset that the ruling may not require Google to admit wrongdoing. The FTC has accused Google of knowingly circumventing Safari safeguards to generate advertising cookies, despite promises to the contrary.
Company tracked Safari users despite promises
Google has agreed to a pay a $22.5 million penalty to settle its tracking dispute with the US Federal Trade Commission, according to a press release from the agency. The payout was previously rumored but has only now been confirmed. The penalty is said to be the largest ever for violation of an FTC order; as a condition of the settlement, Google must disable any tracking cookies it said it wouldn't install on customers' devices.
Standard essential patents to be main focus
The United States Congress is taking a look at the patent sector, weighing whether or not to modify rules governing the enforcement of sales bans derived from standards-essential patents. Reuters reports that the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission will be weighing in on the talks, which could mark the advent of a decision of considerable impact. The intervention comes as the patent wars between various electronics manufacturers heat up, with one company after another accusing others of infringing patents.
Spokeo fined for improperly collecting and marketing data
The Federal Trade Commission has fined data collector Spokeo $800,000 in the commission's first case relating Internet and social-media data sold for employment screening purposes. In its investigation, the Commission alleged that Spokeo had violated federal law in compiling and selling information gleaned from social networking sites. As The New York Times reports, the $800,000 fine represents a civil settlement Spokeo reached with the Commission, though the company was not required to admit wrongdoing.
Brin, Page to appear for FTC depositions
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google, will appear before US antitrust regulators for questioning, sources familiar with the proceedings have told Bloomberg. The two Google executives have retained counsel, and are expected to give depositions before the Federal Trade Commission some time in the next few months.
Investigation is described as 'routine' for value
The US Federal Trade Commission is launching a competition investigation regarding Facebook's recent $1 billion buyout of Instagram, say two sources for the Financial Times. The effort has allegedly already begun, with the FTC starting to collect information from "at least two" of Facebook's biggest competitors. The probe is described as routine for deals worth more than $68.2 million, but could delay the Instagram acquisition well past when Facebook told investors things would be completed.
Insider alleges Google may be fined millions by FTC
Google may be facing a fine potentially greater than $10 million for bypassing Safari privacy controls, according to an insider. The unnamed source, speaking to Bloomberg, alleged that Google is negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over the actual value of the fine, which would be levied due to Google's violation of a consent degree signed last year.
FTC hints serious legal action enroute for Google
The Federal Trade Commission in a media briefing said it was hiring an external lawyer for its antitrust investigation into Google. Beth Wilkinson, best known for securing the death penalty for domestic bomber Tim McVeigh, would start as of Monday, the Mercury News said in its account of the meeting. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz stressed that the agency hadn't decided on whether it would formally accuse Google of being anti-competitive.
Commission may propose fine
The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering a fine in its purported investigation over Google's alleged circumvention of Safari privacy controls. Although the Commission has yet to formally disclose an investigation, unnamed sources have told MercuryNews the agency may demand a fine much higher than the $25,000 FCC penalty the search giant faces over the Street View Wi-Fi debacle.
HP's South Korean offices raided by the FTC
Korea's Fair Trade Commission raided HP's Seoul office on Friday as part of an investigation into the company's alleged price-fixing practices, The Korea Times reported. Employees were questioned and computer records as well as documents were ceased during the raid. Other companies that are said to be involved in the scheme include IBM and Oracle.
Cook gets first turn at D media event
Apple set a pair of firsts Tuesday after AllThingsD confirmed that Apple CEO Tim Cook would be the opening speaker for the D10 conference. It will represent both Cook's first guest spot at the annual Rancho Palos Verdes, California event as well as his first at a third-party event not intended for investors. The opening speaker role is rare in the industry and usually reserved for a highlighted and often extensive conversation.
FTC privacy guide goes live
As promised, the US Federal Trade Commission has posted its Internet privacy recommendations (below) as of Monday. The guidelines include its well-known Do Not Track recommendations, which would have companies honor browser settings to block ad cookies and other tracking, but would have a significant mobile component. Officials have suggested that mobile services improve and provide "short, meaningful disclosures" about privacy safeguards to make sure that users both see and understand their options.