FTC

Qualcomm denies FTC’s claims it bribed Apple into using its modem chips

Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, basically saying the company bribed Apple into not making a WiMAX iPhone in exchange for better royalties. The chip maker in a subsequent press release denied any wrongdoing, saying the FTC doesn’t really understand how the mobile industry works.

Qualcomm under fire from FTC over allegedly forcing Apple to use its baseband modem chips

Now we know why Apple has made the controversial decision to dual-source baseband modem chips for iPhone 7 from both Intel and Qualcomm. Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Qualcomm with monopolizing baseband modems used in smartphones, saying the firm’s leveraged its position to force Apple to use its baseband chips in exchange for lower patent royalties.

FTC also probing Apple’s upcoming music service over deals with record labels

Increasingly, Apple is finding itself in hot water with regulators over its rumored subscription-based music service. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the United States Federal Trade Commission is now probing Apple’s efforts to line up deals with record labels.

The agency is reportedly taking a closer look at the possible misuse of the iPhone maker’s dominant market position as the largest seller of music downloads to put rival music services such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, YouTube and others at a disadvantage.

Apple being questioned by the FTC regarding health data protection

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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… 

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

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…

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

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…

FTC to launch inquiry into patent trolls, including issuing subpoenas

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…

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

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…