Apple being questioned by the FTC regarding health data protection

By Cody Lee on Nov 13, 2014

The US Federal Trade Commission is seeking assurances from Apple that it will prevent sensitive health data from being used without the users’ consent, reports Reuters. The outlet says Apple representatives have met with FTC officials multiple times in recent months to discuss the matter.

More specifically, the FTC wants to be sure that Apple will not sell health data collected by its upcoming smartwatch and other devices to third party marketers, or allow app developers to do so. It also wants to be sure proper measures are being taken to protect the data against malicious attacks. Read More

 

FTC drags AT&T to court over ‘deceptive and unfair’ throttling of unlimited data users

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 28, 2014

It’s sad that we’ve grown accustomed to greedy carriers and their unlimited data deals. Not only does unlimited service typically come with lots of strings attached, carriers have dumb excuses ready once folks realize their data speeds are being throttled.

Having decided not to let it slide, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now taking AT&T to court over what it called “deceptive and unfair data throttling” policy.

As announced on Twitter and via a media release, the FTC’s federal court complaint alleges that the Dallas, Texas headquartered firm in some cases reduced data speeds for unlimited customers by up to 90 percent while failing to explain in clear and concise manner why and when throttling would take place.

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data,” reads the complaint, “and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise”.

“The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. AT&T’s other sin: the company avoided mentioning throttling to customers who were about to renew their unlimited contracts. Read More

 

AT&T forced to pay $105 million over bogus billing

By Cody Lee on Oct 8, 2014

The US government has just handed AT&T a significant fine for allowing third party companies to stealthily tack on their charges to customer phone bills for things like spam SMS text messages. The announcement was made on Wednesday in a joint press conference by the FCC and FTC, who say this is the largest “cramming” settlement in history.

In total, AT&T will pay out $105 million to settle the case—$80 million is earmarked for the FTC, which it will use to set up a reimbursement program, $5 million will go to the FCC, and $20 million will go to individual states. Additionally, the carrier has been ordered to begin proactively informing subscribers if extra fees are going on their accounts. Read More

 

FTC accuses T-Mobile of placing unauthorized charges on phone bills for years [updated with note from the CEO]

By Joe Rossignol on Jul 1, 2014

T-Mobile has been aggressively marketing its Uncarrier initiatives to prove that it cares about customers, but the Federal Trade Commission has published a new complaint that accuses the carrier of knowingly cramming bogus charges onto customers’ phone bills for years. The FTC claims that T-Mobile made hundreds of millions of dollars by knowingly placing charges for “premium” SMS subscriptions that, most often, were not authorized by customers…  Read More

 

Apple said to be ‘scrambling’ to make changes to IAP policies required by March 31

By Cody Lee on Mar 6, 2014

In a settlement with the FTC earlier this year regarding a lawsuit over in-app purchases, Apple told the commission that it would issue refunds to those affected and modify its in-app billing system to make things more clear. The FTC agreed and gave the company until March 31, 2014 to make the changes.

In order to meet the government’s orders, Apple must alter its billing practices to obtain a user’s express consent before billing them for an in-app purchase, and provide them with an easy way to withdraw that consent. And according to a new report, Apple engineers are scrambling to meet the deadline…

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Apple agrees to refund users in FTC settlement over unwanted in-app purchases

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 15, 2014

Parents whose kids were tricked into obtaining virtual items in iPhone and iPad games by way of the iOS In-App Purchase mechanism will get refunded over unwanted spending, according to Apple’s settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The penalty dwarfs Google’s $22.5 million fine in the Safari website tracking scandal.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was not pleased with the outcome, but acknowledged in a letter to employees that the company “has entered into a consent decree” over long-standing complaints over inappropriate charges in the App Store, alluding his company may have exhausted its legal options and didn’t want to risk an enduring legal battle with the government… Read More

 

FTC to launch inquiry into patent trolls, including issuing subpoenas

By Ed Sutherland on Jun 21, 2013

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected today to approve an investigation into so-called patent trolls, according to the New York Times. Results of the investigation could be used as part of a possible antitrust lawsuit.

FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez has said the technology involved in one smartphone could spur thousands of patents. In 2012, patent trolls – politely referred to as patent-assertion entities – comprised 60 percent of some 4,000 patent lawsuits. In 2011, the number of patent lawsuits were half that amount, the Times reported… Read More

 

FTC issues app privacy guidelines, proposes ‘Do Not Track’ for mobile

By Ed Sutherland on Feb 1, 2013

A patchwork of online privacy measures should be standardized to form a ‘Do Not Track’ list for mobile app users. In guidelines issued Friday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission says mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone “facilitate unprecedented amounts of data collection.”

Both devices and app developers should obtain users’ consent before obtaining personal information such as location, photos or contacts. The set of guidelines accompanied Path’s $800,000 settlement with the FTC over grabbing iOS users’ personal address books without their consent… Read More

 

Path pays dearly for stealing your iOS address book data

By Christian Zibreg on Feb 1, 2013

The private social network Path was off to a great start following its iPhone app launch in November 2010. The success was, unfortunately, short-lived as the company soon found itself at the epicenter of intense public scrutiny after it was discovered it had been uploading iOS users’ address book to its servers without their explicit permission. Even though Path did apologize and update the app with the necessary changes and user prompts, the startup never really recovered from the eerie privacy scandal.

And as a result, Apple on its end introduced deeper privacy options in iOS 6 so users can select on a per-app basis which apps can access their contacts, calendars, reminders, photos and more. And now comes word that on Friday The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Path has agreed to pay a whopping $800,000 fine… Read More

 

FTC drops Google antitrust inquiry as it agrees to license essential patents

By Cody Lee on Jan 4, 2013

Good news out of Washington this week. The FTC has announced that it’s reached a settlement with Google regarding its antitrust investigation. The Federal Trade Commission was going after the search giant for several reasons, including patent abuse.

But not anymore. Google has agreed, among other things, to license several of its standard-essential patents — many of which it picked up in its recent acquisition of Motorola — to its competitors under FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms… Read More

 

FTC investigating children’s apps over privacy concerns

By Cody Lee on Dec 11, 2012

The US Federal Trade Commission released a report yesterday regarding mobile apps that are aimed at children. It has been investigating kids titles from both the App Store and the Google Play marketplace, and has found that there has been little done over the past few years to address privacy concerns. These apps are still collecting kids’ data, and sharing it, without their parents’ knowledge or consent… Read More

 

FTC slams Motorola’s attempts to ban iPhone, iPad

By Cody Lee on Dec 5, 2012

The FTC filed what’s called an amicus brief with the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals this afternoon, arguing that Google-owned Motorola’s attempts to ban the sale of the iPhone, iPad and other Apple products in the US for allegedly infringing on its patents was ‘inappropriate.’

The Commission feels that since Motorola has already licensed the patents in question under fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms, it had no right to seek an injunction against Apple’s products that supposedly violated them, without offering similar licensing terms… Read More

 

Judge approves Google’s $22.5M Safari tracking fine

By Cody Lee on Nov 19, 2012

It looks like Google may have to start writing out that $22.5 million check soon, to cover the fine it agreed to pay in order to settle the FTC claim that it illegally bypassed user privacy settings in Safari.

US District Judge Susan Illston approved the fine in a San Francisco federal court late Friday, which will go down as the largest penalty ever levied against a company by the Federal Trade Commission… Read More

 

Google faces FTC ultimatum over patent and search abuse

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 12, 2012

Bloomberg reports that Google is facing an ultimatum from FTC on antitrust deal talks. Apparently, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz is pressuring Google to make an offer and finally settle FTC’s antitrust investigation over whether the dominant search engine abused its market power in search and misused patent protection in smartphone wars. And should Google fail to “make an acceptable settlement proposal”, sources say, the FTC is prepared to mount a massive case against the search giant whose “Don’t be evil” motto has long become the subject of mockery… Read More