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Yelp, TinyCo to settle with FTC over information collected from kids

09/17, 7:00pm

Penalties issued in upwards of $450,000 over information collected in violation of COPPA

Popular online review site Yelp and mobile application developer TinyCo, Inc. 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).

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Google to refund $19 million to settle FTC in-app purchase debacle

09/04, 12:53pm

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.

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Apple tried nudging FTC into investigating Google Play, email reveals

07/09, 12:00pm

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."

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Privacy group files complaint with FTC over Facebook emotional study

07/06, 3:13pm

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.

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Amazon warns FTC it will take battle over in-app purchases to court

07/02, 6:50pm

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.

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FTC report on data brokers, asks Congress for more transparency

05/28, 10:55pm

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.

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US FTC approves Facebook buy of WhatsApp, with privacy caveats

04/10, 4:28pm

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.

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Apple to pay $32.5M in refunds to settle in-app purchases lawsuit

01/15, 1:12pm

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."

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App developer settles with FTC over device data collection, sharing

12/06, 10:43am

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.

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FTC promises to investigate patent trolls

09/27, 2:58pm

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.

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FTC examining Facebook's new privacy policy, may violate agreements

09/11, 8:43pm

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.

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Google, Federal Trade Commission codify Wi-Fi, H.264 FRAND agreement

07/24, 4:13pm

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.

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Report: US FTC considering additional Google antitrust investigation

05/23, 8:30pm

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.

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FTC starts sending COPPA letters to app developers

05/16, 9:51pm

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.

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FTC announces winners for $50,000 Robocall challenge

04/03, 11:08am

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.

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Microsoft: disappointed by FTC's cessation of Google probe

01/03, 11:54pm

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.

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FTC closes Google probe with light reprimand

01/03, 3:14pm

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.

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FTC updates COPPA, backs away from some app store rules

12/19, 2:47pm

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.

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Report: Google settlements with FTC could arrive this week

12/11, 10:41pm

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.

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California House Reps come to Google's defense

11/19, 8:32pm

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.

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Federal judge may approve Google's FTC Safari deal [U}

11/18, 9:16pm

$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.

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FTC pressures Google to resolve antitrust issues

11/13, 2:03pm

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.

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FTC places $50k bounty on method to block 'robocalls'

10/19, 5:42pm

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.

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Reuters: FTC nearing Google antitrust case

10/12, 4:17pm

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.

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FTC settles with PC leasing firms over pre-installed spyware

09/25, 10:22pm

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.

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FTC complaint: McDonald's website violates child privacy law

08/23, 12:30am

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).

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Group threatens to block Google FTC payout over liability

08/09, 3:09pm

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.

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Google to pay $22.5M in FTC case over Safari security

08/09, 12:25pm

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.

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Congress to weigh patent infringement, sales bans

07/10, 8:10pm

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.

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FTC hands down first fines over social-media data collection

06/12, 6:46pm

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.

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Google founders to face antitrust questioning

06/08, 8:58pm

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.

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FTC launches probe into Facebook's Instagram buyout

05/10, 4:29pm

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.

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Leak: Google to face $10 million fine for Safari breach

05/04, 6:19pm

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.

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FTC hires outside lawyer for Google antitrust case

04/26, 6:25pm

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.

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FTC to fine Google for bypassing Safari privacy?

04/17, 11:25am

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.

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HP under investigation for price fixing in South Korea

04/16, 1:30pm

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.

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Apple's Tim Cook to be opening speaker at D10

04/10, 1:00pm

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.

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FTC puts out privacy guidelines with mobile in mind

03/26, 12:40pm

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.

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FTC to release online privacy guidelines on March 26

03/23, 5:30pm

FTC offers polished privacy recommendations

The FTC on Friday posted word that it would reveal the finished version of its online privacy framework on March 26. Details of what it would involve weren't mentioned, although it would likely derive some of its practices from recommended "do not track" policy that would let web visitors guarantee they weren't having their details collected as they browsed, whether through cookies or otherwise. Input over the past year and a half from both the public and companies should have influenced the results.

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Google faces EU, US investigations over Safari privacy row

03/16, 11:30am

EU and US worried Google broke privacy rules

Sources slipped word late Thursday that several American and European regulators were investigating Google over the practices that led to possibly breaching Safari privacy. France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des LibertÚs, the US Federal Trade Commission, and the attorneys general of several states were said by the Wall Street Journal to be looking into whether Google had been deceptive in letting browser cookies through despite users' own settings. The CNIL would be bolting the checks on to its existing privacy investigations, while the FTC wanted to see if the behavior violated an earlier privacy agreement where Google said it would be straightforward in requests.

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FTC subpoenas Apple in Google antitrust over iOS search

03/13, 3:45pm

FTC wants to know how iOS search favors Google

The FTC's widening antitrust investigation of Google is now collecting information from Apple, insiders tipped on mid-Tuesday. A pair of Bloomberg sources understood the US agency to be subpoenaing Apple for the deals making Google the default search engine on iOS devices. It's presumed, though not certain, that concerns may exist Google is unfairly using its search dominance to cut out Microsoft's Bing and others from getting the pre-selected position.

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FTC requires WD to sell off some assets, rights to Toshiba

03/06, 1:30pm

FTC imposes restrictions on WD buy of Hitachi

The Federal Trade Commission has ruled that Western Digital sell its desktop hard drive manufacturing assets and some Intellectual Property rights to Toshiba, following its multi-billion purchase of Hitachi. The condition of the sale is needed, the FTC believed, because the original deal would have left WD as one of just two global desktop hard drive makers. The FTC ruled the deal as uncompetitive and feels its ruling will maintain "vigorous competition" in the worldwide market that should result in competitive prices and innovation in the field.

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Senator Schumer wants FTC look into iOS, Android app access

03/05, 1:10am

Schumer worried apps have too much access

Senator Chuck Schumer on Sunday sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission with concerns over the reaches of Android and iOS apps. He was worried that their abilities to quietly take contact lists and photo libraries without direct knowledge were going "well beyond" what a regular user would agree to. Although he agreed that these were often breaching Apple and Google terms, he was concerned the companies weren't properly monitoring what was happening.

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Microsoft hires ex-FTC attorney to sic regulators on Google

02/29, 10:00pm

Microsoft gets antitrust attorney as own staffer

Microsoft on Wednesday hoped to turn Google's FTC troubles against it by hiring one of the FTC's senior lawyers, Randall Long, on Wednesday. The former deputy assistant lead for the Competition Bureau will manage Microsoft's regulatory relations. He will take the new position in late March and should be based out of Washington, DC.

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Obama intros Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

02/23, 11:00am

Proposed web privacy bill has seven stipulations

President Obama and his administration this week released a white paper (PDF) outlining proposed new online privacy rules. A big part of the regulations includes Do Not Track technology for behavior-based web advertising. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will oversee and enforce these rules.

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FTC wants Android, iOS devs to disclose child-related data

02/16, 5:50pm

FTC wants more transparency on child info

The FTC in a set of recommendations Thursday called on Android and iOS developers alike to provide more information to adults about what information an app might collect about their kids. Officials wanted simple, direct information to help parents either filter access or avoid apps entirely. It was "almost impossible" to know which apps were scraping data and more difficult still to know where that information was going, agency chairman Jon Leibowitz said.

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FTC sends warnings to background check app makers

02/07, 8:30pm

May be violating consumer credit protection laws

The FTC has sent warnings to six developers of background checking mobile apps that their software may violate consumer credit protection law. The agency advised the six that their apps and the procedures surrounding them might not comply with the privacy protection provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Letters were sent to the three makers of the six apps, Evertify, InfoPay, and Intelligator.

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French court finds Google abused Google Maps dominance

02/02, 6:30pm

Google fined in Google Maps antitrust case

France on Wednesday found that Google had allegedly abused the dominance of Google Maps to squeeze out regional competitors. The American company was asked to pay 500,000 euros ($657,350) in direct compensation as well as a 15,000-euro ($19,720) fine. Bottin Cartographes had accused Google of price dumping by using its search ad business to give away the map service for free where Bottin had to charge for the same service.

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US Mobile Device Privacy Act reaches first draft

01/30, 3:30pm

Markey intros cellphone privacy act draft bill

Congressman Ed Markey, known for criticizing Carrier IQ and the carriers that support it, has now proposed a draft bill (PDF) that aims to protect the privacy of cellphone users. The Mobile Device Privacy Act would order companies to publicly disclose whether they are using tracking software such as Carrier IQ, according to a Monday report found in the The Hill. It would also require them to reveal what information is collected and give users a consent option.

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FTC antitrust investigation spreads to Google+

01/14, 3:45am

FTC worried Google Plus may skew results

The FTC's investigation into Google has spread into search, a purported insider disclosed Friday night. Following thetech giant's plans this week to put Google+ updates into the search stream, the US regulator was said by Reuters to be probin whether the social network was unfairly pushing down Google's competitors through results. Twitter, among others, have accused Google of 'warping' results by making it hard for Twitter to get as much prominence.

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