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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Senate committee leads worry Google hurting rivals
Senate antitrust committee chairman Herb Kohl and supporter Mike Lee sent a formal letter (below) to the Federal Trade Commission backing an investigation of Google over its dominance of search. The Democrat and Republican together were worried enough about Google's lead in search following Senate hearings that they wanted a "thorough" look. They cited familiar arguments that Google might be abusing a dominant position to favor an increasing number of its own services in results on desktop and mobile, in many cases ousting challengers like Nextag or Yelp.
Carrier IQ says it asked FTC and FCC first
New government investigations into Carrier IQ are voluntary, the company claimed in a statement Wednesday. It had actively looked for meetings with the FCC and FTC to "educate" the two on how its cellphone diagnostic system works, the firm told AllThingsD. Congressman Ed Markey had asked for an investigation, but there hadn't been an active effort from the FTC that it knew of.
FCC, FTC involved in investigating privacy
The US government is now involved in investigating the presence of Carrier IQ software on cellphones, says the Washington Post. The newspaper mainly cites anonymous government officials, but also Carrier IQ spokeswoman Mira Woods. "We are complying with all investigations at this time as we have nothing to hide," she says. "We have been completely transparent through this process."
Facebook creates new privacy change positions
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed on Tuesday that the social network has now outlined some of privacy changes ordered by the FTC. In the blog post, Zuckerberg also admits to a "bunch of mistakes" in the past, including Beacon and the transition of its privacy model. The agreement with the FCC means Facebook will give users the tools to control who can and cannot see their information.
Motorola sees 99pc vote for Google merger
Motorola's shareholders at a special meeting approved the company's acquisition by Google. The outcome, while expected, saw 99 percent of those at the meeting vote in favor. With guests at the meeting representing 74 percent of Motorola's total shares, it was clear there was "strong support" for the deal, CEO Sanjay Jha said.
Google may help pay for but not buy Yahoo
Google might be backing a third-party buyout of Yahoo. A source talking to the Wall Street Journal had Google in early talks where it would help fund two or more private equity firms that would buy Yahoo's main business. No formal plan had been outlined, and it wasn't clear if it would go ahead.
Skype buyout by Microsoft approved by EU
Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase of Skype has been approved on Friday by the European Commission. The software giant's largest-ever buy was announced in May and received the blessing of the US Federal Trade Commission back in June. The European Commission found that the two companies overlap in video communications and there are no competition concerns regarding the acquisition.