Items tagged with FTC

Today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit against AT&T stating that the wireless carrier misled and deceived millions of its customers through data throttling for those with its unlimited data plan. On top of that, customers who cancelled their accounts because of throttling we then charged early termination fees. "AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." Image Credit: Flickr (Bill Bradford) According to the FTC, AT&T’s promotional materials for its unlimited plan emphasized the word “unlimited”... Read more...
From the beginning, the anti-net neutrality argument has been built on a single premise: Give companies free rein to charge more money for services, and they'll respond by improving the customer experience, rolling out service to more people, and aggressively adopting faster technology. Over the past few months, Netflix has served as an unofficial test drive for this theory -- the company has begun paying both Comcast and Verizon directly to improve Netflix performance. The result?  Comcast, at least, has improved dramatically. Verizon, on the other hand, continues to crater -- its FiOS service fell two spots to 12th place.   Verizon, naturally enough, has attempted to blame Netflix... Read more...
Every parent fears it: In addition to the physical danger to your expensive tablet or smartphone when you hand it over to your child to play with, you’re always worried that they’ll go on an unauthorized in-app spending spree and get you slapped with a monstrous bill. Apple got body slammed by the FTC over its in-app purchasing practices this January, and now Cupertino is ensuring that its chief competitor is getting the same treatment. According to Politico, Apple general counsel sent a message to FTC Chairperson Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill hinting strongly that perhaps they should have a look at Google’s practices in that area, as well. (Credit: N9LXI via... Read more...
Amazon is willing to go to court if the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decides to sue the e-commerce giant for refusing to pay a penalty over mobile in-app purchases made by children on smartphone applications. The FTC wants Amazon to enter into a settlement similar to the one it reached with Apple earlier this year, but after weeks of negotiations, Amazon says it's "deeply disappointing" that regulators are unwilling to see the difference between the two situations. According to the FTC, thousands of consumers have complained about unauthorized in-app charges by children on Amazon devices. The complaints collectively add up to millions of dollars, and it was just last month that Amazon finally... Read more...
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is accusing T-Mobile, otherwise known as the "Un-carrier" (a name T-Mobile gave itself), of being un-cool by charging its wireless subscribers hundreds of millions of dollars for third-party services they never signed up for. These services include things like ringtones, wallpapers, horoscopes, and other such add-ons. According to the FCC's complaint, T-Mobile allegedly charged consumers a monthly fee that was typically $9.99 for the above mentioned features. The FTC says that in many cases, the consumers never signed up to receive any of the services, thus T-Mobile is engaging in a practice referred to as "cramming," according to a report in The Wall Street... Read more...
Lumped on top of the many engineering challenges that Tesla has had to solve while bringing all-electric vehicles to market is a problem with its sales model. Tesla wants to sell its cars directly to consumers, which seems like a sensible, simple thing to do, but there are laws and regulations all over the country that prevent just that, and some states including New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland have specifically prohibited Tesla sales. Fortunately for Tesla, three FTC officials co-wrote a blog post backing the electric carmaker’s business model and explaining why it should be allowed to stand. Tesla Model S “When the automobile industry was in its infancy, auto manufacturers recruited... Read more...
Facebook’s blockbuster $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp has raised a lot of questions--such as “Why?”--but among those unanswered queries is a concern that Facebook will collect user data for advertising purposes, which some privacy groups argue cuts against expectations that WhatsApp users previously had about what their data would be used (or not used) for. According to Bloomberg, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy are both calling for the FTC to examine how WhatsApp users’ privacy will be affected by the Facebook acquisition. Image Source: Flickr (Sam Azgor) “Facebook routinely makes use of user information for advertising... Read more...
TRENDnet, a maker of home networking and security products, has agreed to settle charges brought on by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that its "lax security practices" left consumers susceptible to remote viewing by hackers. Specifically, the FTC took issue with TRENDnet's SecurView line of cameras and the fact that they were being marketed as "secure." "In fact, the cameras had faulty software that left them open to online viewing, and in some instances listening, by anyone with the cameras' Internet address," the FTC said. According to the FTC, from at least April 2010 TRENDnet failed to used reasonable security to design and test its software, including a setting for the cameras'... Read more...
Look out, Internet -- the government's moving in on your wild, wild west territory. The Federal Trade Commission has just announced new guidelines for online advertisers, hoping to ensure that search results and ads are distinguished from each other. The entity has found that in recent years, paid search results have become less distinguishable as advertising, and the FTC is urging the search industry to make sure the distinction is clear. Here's a blurb from the release: "According to both the FTC staff’s original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice.  The... Read more...
Hopefully Google didn't pop the top on expensive bottles of champagne celebrating the $1.1 billion acquisition of Waze, a popular GPS-based turn-by-turn navigational app for mobile that hard drawn interest from a number of suitors, including Facebook. The expensive acquisition has drawn the attention of antitrust lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which have contacted Google about its purchase. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the FTC may have asked Google to hang tight and refrain from baking Waze into its software and service until the investigation is complete. At issue for the FTC is whether or not Waze would have become a direct competitor with Google and its... Read more...
For some, spending a billion bucks comes easy. Just this week, Yahoo closed its deal to acquire Tumblr with next to no fuss from regulators. But when it comes to Google, it seems that the feds are constantly casting glances. The company recently announced its intentions to acquire rival mapping firm Waze for over a billion dollars, but now the Federal Trade Commission has launched an antitrust investigation to see if the deal will be allowed. Google has confirmed that such an investigation is ongoing, but won't speak further on the details. Media reports suggest that the breaking up of the deal is unlikely, as the FTC would, at this point, need to provide evidence that the combination of companies... Read more...
According to a new report, Google has run afoul of the FTC, which is an unenviable spot to be in. Sources told Bloomberg that FTC staff has formally recommended the suit to the group’s commissioners. The issue is whether Google misused its patent portfolio to make it difficult for the competition to license Google-owned patents and then sued those same companies for patent infringement. Primarily, according to the report, the infringed-upon patents are ones Google acquired when it bought Motorola Mobility, and they pertain to 3G, WiFi, and video streaming technology. FTC building in Washington, D.C. Google inherited some of that litigation when it acquired Motorola, but the FTC may take... Read more...
As facial recognition technology begins to look like something that’s actually quite useful and powerful, the FTC is trying to stay out in front of it by developing a set of best practices for commercial applications. Why is the FTC so proactive about addressing facial recognition technology? This passage from the agency’s Facing Facts: Best Practices for Common Uses of Facial Recognition Technologies report sums it up fairly well: In the most advanced application, companies can use the technology to compare individuals’ facial characteristics across different images in order to identify them. In this application, an image of an individual is matched with another image of the... Read more...
We’ve all seen our share of bogus social media activity, be it fake likes, ratings, or reviews, that are paid for by a company trying to goose its sales or generate buzz about some product. According to research firm Gartner, the amount of that bogus activity will account for 10-15% of all social media activity by 2014. To be clear, the problem is not that companies are sponsoring content; that’s been a common practice for a long time in a variety of media, and as long as there are appropriate disclosures, there’s no problem. The issue with this kind of covert marketing is that it’s essentially a lie. The FTC certainly feels that way; in 2009, the commission ruled that... Read more...
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is apparently fed up with the growing number of patent disputes that could lead to import bans. So much, in fact, that the FTC felt compelled to ink a five-page letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) outlining its concerns with the way things are currently handled, which have "significant implications for the public interest." In the letter, the FTC stats that instances where companies try to block competing firms from importing their products into the U.S. could cause "substantial harm to U.S. competition, consumers, and innovation." In a five-page letter, the FTC makes it clear it's tired of companies trying to game patent law. (Image Source:... Read more...
W3 Innovations, the parent company of prominent iOS app developer Broken Thumb Apps, has today settled with the Federal Trade Commission over collection of children's personal data through its iPhone and iPod Touch applications. W3 and its subsidiary Broken Thumb Apps, which is responsible for games like Emily's Dress Up, Truth or Dare, and Zombie Duck Hunt, had allegedly "collected, maintained, and/or disclosed personal information" entered into its various child-targeted applications, according to the FTC. The complaint claims that the company collected and maintained a list of more than 30,000 e-mails, as well as personal information from more than 300 Emily's Girl World users... Read more...
Intel, the largest chip maker on this or any other known planet, cleared at least one major hurdle in its attempt to acquire security firm McAfee. That hurdle? The Federal Trade Commission, which has given the proposed $7.68 billion deal its stamp of approval. "The Federal Trade Commission has concluded its review of the proposed McAfee transaction and has cleared it. We are continuing to work with the staff at the European Commission as they continue their review," Kevin Sellers, Intel VP of Investor Relations, said in a statement. The FTC's approval comes just days after mutterings that European regulators might not be too keen on the deal because of antitrust concerns. According to a report... Read more...
When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled their investigation of Intel, one of the stipulations of the agreement was that Intel would continue to support the PCI Express standard for the next six years. Intel agreed to all the FTC's demands (without actually admitting that it did anything wrong), but Intel's upcoming Oak Trail Atom platform presented something of a conundrum. Oak Trail was finalized long before the FTC and Intel began negotiating, which means Santa Clara could have been banned from shipping the platform. The FTC and Intel have jointly announced an agreement covering Oak Trail that allows Intel to sell the platform without adding PCIe support—for now. Come 2013, all... Read more...
The Federal Trade Commission can close the books on its case against Intel, the world's largest chip maker, after the two sides were able to hammer out a settlement. Intel stood accused of anticompetitive practices, which is legal speak for being a bully in the marketplace, and under terms of the agreement, the Santa Clara chip maker must refrain from offering "conditioning benefits" to manufacturers who agree to roll with Intel exclusively, or "retaliating against" manufacturers who don't. "This case demonstrates that the FTC is willing to challenge anticompetitive conduct by even the most powerful companies in the fastest-moving industries," said Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "By accepting this settlement,... Read more...
At the time of this writing, the FTC's investigation into Intel's alleged monopolistic abuses is on hold as the government attempts to negotiate a settlement with the CPU and chipset manufacturer. If these negotiations don't result in a deal by July 22, the case returns to court, with arguments currently scheduled to begin on September 15. Intel is no stranger to these sorts of lawsuits; between AMD and the EU, the CPU giant has been battling such allegations for years. The lawsuit between NV and Intel, however, rests on different points than the AMD/Intel allegations. Here, the battle is over whether or not Intel's already-negotiated agreements with NVIDIA give the latter permission to produce... Read more...
Back in December of last year, the FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel, alleging that the CPU giant had abused its market position and limited sales of competitive products from the likes of AMD and NVIDIA. We've heard very little about the case since then, but the company and FTC have just jointly filed a request to suspend litigation proceedings until July 22 in order to evaluate a proposed deal. No details have been made public regarding the proposed resolution and both Intel and AMD have refused to discuss the arrangement. An unnamed spokesperson from NVIDIA told Mercury News that the GPU designer was similarly in the dark. "We don't yet know details behind the FTC's announcement,... Read more...
A few weeks after Apple announced its revised programming rules for iPhad devices, Adobe dropped the bombshell that it was abandoning Apple's platform. Up until late April, Adobe had tirelessly pledged Flash support for the iPhone, but certain changes to the developer license made it too risky for the company to continue development. Apple and Adobe have publicly sparred in the last week and the Flash developer may have deliberately upped the ante. Sources at the FTC revealed today that the regulatory agency is preparing to investigate Apple's developer license to see if it unfairly restricts competition—purportedly at Adobe's request. The troublesome section of Apple's developer license is 3.3.1,... Read more...
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