Items tagged with FTC

Bad news for AT&T and good news for consumers at large—the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does in fact have authority over the wireless carrier and other common carriers, an appeals court has determined. That means the FTC can dole out punishment to AT&T Mobility for throttling data on its unlimited data plan on the basis that doing so was "unfair and deceptive" to customers. The issue dates back to a lawsuit the FTC filed against AT&T in October 2014 in the US District Court in Northern California. It was the FTC's claim that AT&T advertised unlimited data to wireless customers, but ultimately throttled speeds by up to 90 percent in some instances. AT&T... Read more...
Apple and Qualcomm are continuing to fight it out in court over patents and the huge sums of money that go along with licensing them for use in mobile devices today. The most recent turn of events in the Qualcomm vs. Apple case in courts right now came this week when U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins hit Apple with sanctions for being slow in turning over documents that were requested in the FTC’s lawsuit against Qualcomm. The lawsuit accuses Qualcomm Inc. of forcing Apple to use its chips exclusively inside devices like the iPhone and iPad. The judge in the case has hit Apple with a fine of $25,000 per day for each day that it fails to produce the evidence requested, starting on... Read more...
Lenovo had its name drug through the mud back in 2015, and its problems were no doubt self-inflicted. The company was caught preinstalling Superfish adware on hundreds of thousands of its computers that were sold to customers, which was part of an effort to line its pockets with an additional revenue stream. However, it was soon discovered that Superfish also opened customers up to attacks from hackers and exposed their private information. Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has concluded its investigation into the company, and has essentially handed it a slap on the wrist. Superfish’s crown jewel was its VisualDiscovery software, which acted as a man-in-the-middle, siphoning data between... Read more...
Silicon Valley is pushing back against Washington D.C., and for good reason. A lobbying group representing tech titans such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft recently released a document in favor of net neutrality. The Internet Association (IA) indicated that it supported the 2015 Open Internet Order. The IA’s report stated, “The internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition, and innovation online. Consumers want and need their internet experience preserved and protected, regardless of the legal or regulatory mechanism.” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has argued that he would prefer for broadband... Read more...
Apple leveled some pretty serious allegations against Qualcomm earlier this year, citing anticompetitive licensing practices (among other things). The Cupertino, California-based company likened Qualcomm’s practices to extortion and asked for $1 billion in payments that were allegedly withheld. “Qualcomm built its business on older, legacy, standards but reinforces its dominance through exclusionary tactics and excessive royalties,” said Apple back in late January. “We are extremely disappointed in the way Qualcomm is conducting its business with us and unfortunately after years of disagreement over what constitutes a fair and reasonable royalty we have no choice left but to turn to the courts.”... Read more...
Many American congressman are determined to overturn the “midnight regulations” of the previous administration. The United States Senate’s latest bill proposal would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s rules and allow ISPs to share private data without the consent of the consumer. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, remarked, “The FCC's midnight regulation does nothing to protect consumer privacy. It is unnecessary, confusing, and adds yet another innovation-stifling regulation to the Internet. My resolution is the first step toward restoring the FTC's light-touch, consumer-friendly approach. It will not... Read more...
Vizio has agreed to pay a $2.2 million fine after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and New Jersey Attorney General busted the company for using its internet-connected Smart TVs to automatically track the viewing habits of 11 million customers on a continual basis. The information gleaned from customers was then beamed back to the company’s servers without consent. In addition, Vizio was found to be collecting IP addresses, and then sharing that information with data aggregators in order to match the address with a particular household. “Vizio’s contracts with third parties prohibited the re-identification of consumers and households by name, but allowed a host of other personal details – for... Read more...
Two more robocallers have bitten the dust. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has just filed complaints against two robocall organizations that have allegedly helped to make billions of robocalls between March 2009 through May 2016. Many of the calls were to numbers on the “Do Not Call” Registry. The two main defendants in the complaints are Justin Ramsey and Aaron Michael Jones. Ramsey is purportedly an officer of Data Guru LLC, Tailbone Security LLC, and Prime Marketing LLC. Jones, who is also known as Michael Aaron Jones and Mike Jones, has claimed to be the officer, owner, and manager of at least ten supposed companies. Their companies attempted to sell home security systems, extended auto... Read more...
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against D-Link alleging that the company's failure to properly secure its line of wireless routers and webcams left thousands of customers "vulnerable to a range" of cyber attacks, including those that turned customers' PCs into major parts of numerous botnets. It is a similar suit to the one that ASUS settled with the FTC nearly a year ago. "Defendants have failed to take reasonable steps to protect their routers and IP cameras from widely known and reasonably foreseeable risks of unauthorized access, including by failing to protect against flaws which the Open Web Application Security Project has ranked among the most critical and widespread... Read more...
Is this real life or an Orwellian nightmare? You might want to think twice before purchasing a MyFriend Cayla or i-Que Robot. The smart toys have been accused of sending information to the Massachusetts-based company Nuance Communication. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and Consumers Union filed a complaint against Genesis Toys and Nuance Communication with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this morning. The MyFriend Cayla and the i-Que Robot used voice recognition to listen to the children who play with them. The toys connect via Bluetooth to a mobile app. The app records conversations... Read more...
Earlier this week, WhatsApp made the surprising move to begin sharing user information with its parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp's original stated goal was to know “as little about you as possible”, but that mantra seems to have been thrown out the window in an effort to further increases Facebook’s booming mobile ad revenue. WhatsApp didn’t make any qualms about the benefits of such a move, writing on Thursday, “By connecting your phone number with Facebook's systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you've never heard... Read more...
When it comes to the often slow pace of security updates being pushed to the mobile devices that are at center of our daily digital lives, both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are looking for some answers. The FCC is taking U.S. wireless carriers (like AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile) to task while the FTC has hit up top hardware manufacturers including Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and HTC. At a time when U.S. intelligence agencies like the FBI and NSA are looking for ways to use vulnerabilities to their advantage to solve crimes and in some cases potentially abuse power, the FCC instead wants to ensure that wireless carriers are... Read more...
There have been several high profile security breaches over the last couple of years, and in many instances, cyber thieves were able to extract personal information of their target's customers. Usually this resulted in the company offering a free year of identity theft protection to those affected, though in the future, firms may not get off quite so easily. A lower court ruling from 2014 giving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the authority to regulate cyber security was upheld recently by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia by a 3-0 vote. Following the ruling, the FTC may take legal action against Wyndham Worldwide Corp, a hotel operator that owns Days Inn, Howard Johnson,... Read more...
The Federal Trade Commission has left its stamp on the crowdfunding scene by taking legal action against Erik Chevalier, the Kickstarter project creator who raised more than $122,000 funds from 1,246 backers to produce a board game called The Doom That Came to Atlantic City. In the end, it was the backers who were doomed, as the project was cancelled without any refunds. Chevalier, who was also doing business as The Forking Path Co., issued a number of updates on the Kickstarter project saying that progress was being made. After 14 months, however, he announced that the project was cancelled and that he would refund money to the game's backers. It turned out to be an empty promise. Instead, the... Read more...
Give RadioShack credit, the iconic electronics chain lasted nearly a century and survived part of the Internet era before ultimately filing for bankruptcy. However, the chain's impressive 94-year run doesn't give it a free pass to treat customer data like an asset, or so that's the stance the Federal Trade Commission is taking. The FTC sent a letter (PDF) to the court appointed consumer privacy ombudsman in RadioShack's case. In the letter, FTC direct Jessica L. Rich notes that RadioShack is in possession of personal information for over 117 million customers, information that includes names, addresses (billing and shipping), telephone numbers, email addresses, credit or debit card numbers, and... Read more...
The FTC has just laid the smackdown on yet another company that's been found guilty of exploiting mobile users without their knowledge. The FTC found that the company, called Nomi Technologies, even went against its own privacy policy mere months after it promised not to, in late 2012. Nomi's business model involves working with retail outlets to install sensors in their stores. As a customer walks in, these sensors fetch a phone's MAC address, which is broadcast broadcast via Wi-Fi, and begin to track it. You can see where this is going. With information in-hand, Nomi is able to tell these retailers about a couple of different things: how long the customer stayed in the store, and how often... Read more...
As we’ve shown in the past, the FTC doesn’t take too kindly to “unlimited” data plans that are anything but. Companies like AT&T and Verizon Wireless still honor grandfather unlimited data plans, and in the past have throttled customers once they reached a certain threshold (5GB in the case of customers on AT&T’s wireless network). However, prepaid carrier TracFone has caught the wrath of the FTC for not only throttling customers on plans that were marketed as unlimited, but also not making it plainly clear that customers would be throttled for going over certain fixed limits within a billing cycle.  TracFone offered its unlimited talk, text, and data services — priced at $45 per... Read more...
Dish Network is in hot water with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for outright violating the agency's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), including the "Do Not Call" registry, by placing tens of millions of unsolicited calls to numbers that appear on the list. In all, Dish Network and its retail partners made some 57 million unauthorized outbound calls. The FTC is holding Dish Network responsible for illegal calls made by its vendors to numbers on the DNC registry since Dish retained the retailers, authorized the retailers to market Dish products and services, and because the retailers violated the TSR by initiating the Dish telemarketing calls to numbers on the registry.Image Source:... Read more...
AT&T agreed to settle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the tune of $105 million in early October for its part in a “cramming” scheme that bilked customers out of millions of dollars. Cramming refers to any unauthorized charges on a customer’s cell phone bill, and typically come in the form of unsolicited text messages. Today is T-Mobile’s turn, as it has agreed to a settlement with the FTC and will pay at least $90 million. That sum will be compromised mostly of consumer refunds, but $18 million will go towards fines and penalties owed to all 50 states and $4.5 million will go directly into the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) pockets.The FTC just poured a bucket of cold... Read more...
Following an investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Google has agreed to refund at minimum $19 million to Android users for unauthorized in-app purchases. The search giant has already begun sending out emails to potentially affected individuals, which includes people who have made at least one in-app purchase between March 1, 2011, and November 18, 2014. If you're one of them, be on the lookout for an email; though don't feel too rushed to respond. You have until December 2, 2015 to request refunds on any and all in-app purchases made by your children without your knowledge. "We understand some parents might have been charged for in-app purchases made by... Read more...
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is bringing the legal hammer down on tech support scammers who trick people into thinking there's something wrong with their computer that they're able to fix, or otherwise offering to speed up your PC. What they're really doing is charging for services that aren't necessary, though sometimes their motives are even more nefarious. Depending on where your web travels take you, the FTC says the newest trick involves scammers luring victims to their websites with pop-ads or web searches. Once there, a bogus program appears to detect several errors with your PC. The people running the scam will ask the victim to call on the phone or grant remote access to their... Read more...
We've covered the battles between ISPs and various large-scale content providers multiple times before. From deliberately throttling Netflix users to older spats that prevented Time Warner customers from watching cable channels they'd legally paid for, these kinds of disagreements are common in America these days. A new report from M-Lab, however, illustrates the degree to which these battles can impact all of an ISPs customers, including those who don't use video on demand services like Netflix. Details on how M-Lab configured its tests are available in this PDF, but the company ran its benchmarks and monitoring by setting up multiple access points within a single location and testing network... Read more...
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