Bill Would Allow FTC To Fine Companies Over Privacy Violations

A bill introduced Friday would boost the Federal Trade Commission’s authority by empowering the agency to fine companies the first time they commit an unfair or deceptive practice, and to more easily issue regulations. “For too long, the FTC has been hamstrung in its ability to promulgate effective rules of the road for consumers and penalize companies that harm our friends and neighbors,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida) said Friday when she announced the “21st Century FTC Act.”

COMMENTARY BY GREG BENSINGER

Google’s Privacy Backpedal Shows Why It’s So Hard Not To Be Evil

Technology companies’ blithe disregard for consumer desires is an outgrowth of decades of permissive or nonexistent government oversight. Regulators ought to consider how Big Tech’s monopoly power further empowers the companies to ignore their own customers, in part by gobbling up competitors that offer more consumer-friendly services. Whatever the outcome of the Arizona case, if Google and others are willing to continue offering users choices, they should also be willing to respect them.

Apple To Enforce iPhone Privacy Change

The next major update to the iPhone operating system, iOS 14.5, will be released “next week,” Apple said Tuesday. The detail was slipped into new product announcements Apple made Tuesday. IOS 14.5 has a lot of new features, but the one that’s being most closely watched is called ATT, or App Tracking Transparency. Companies that rely on online advertising, especially Facebook, have said that the privacy change will reduce the effectiveness and profitability of targeted ads and potentially roil the online advertising business.

Tech Giants In Brewing Battle Over Tracking, Ads

Silicon Valley giants are drawing battle lines over personal data collection practices and targeted ads as the threat of regulation looms. As Apple presses ahead with plans to give users greater control over their privacy, companies like Facebook and Google have aligned themselves over the latter’s more measured approach to scaling back tracking features.

Judge Throws Out Children’s Privacy Claims Against YouTube, Channel Operators

A federal judge has dismissed claims that YouTube, Hasbro, the Cartoon Network and other companies violated children’s privacy by allegedly tracking them in order to serve them with targeted ads. In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman in San Jose, Calif., said the children’s representatives couldn’t proceed with the case because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act doesn’t allow for private lawsuits.

FTC Opens Privacy Study Into Internet Platforms

The Federal Trade Commission on Monday voted to issue orders to nine major internet platforms requiring information about how they handle data for a new study. The orders, which do not implicate any legal wrongdoing, were sent to Amazon, ByteDance (the parent company of TikTok), Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp and Youtube. The agency is requesting information about how the platforms collect, use, track or estimate personal and demographic information.

Disney, Viacom, Others Will Limit Data Collection To Settle Children’s Privacy Battle

“Children will be protected from advertising based on any past online activities or any previously collected data in the subject app or anywhere else on the internet,” lawyers for parents of young children tell a federal judge.

FTC Looking At Zoom Privacy Woes

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons indicated on Monday that the agency was looking at privacy complaints regarding Zoom Video Communications Inc. In a teleconference with lawmakers, Simons made reference to concerns that Rep. Jerry McNerney of California had about Zoom. While not addressing the question of Zoom directly, Simons said the agency takes its complaints seriously.

Supreme Court Turns Down Facebook Fight

The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a ruling that allows Illinois residents to proceed with a lawsuit accusing Facebook of violating a state biometric privacy law by compiling “faceprints.”

CES 2020

Apple Returns To CES For Privacy Roundtable

Apple made its first formal appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show since 1992 Tuesday. Apple’s senior director of privacy Jane Horvath joined a “Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable” discussion to talk the state of user privacy, Apple’s privacy standards, and more.

TVN FOCUS ON CES 2020

TVN Tech | At CES, NextGen TV’s Coming Out Party

Next week’s CES in Las Vegas will once again take over the Strip with a sprawling, frenetic glimpse into tomorrow’s consumer technology. This time, NextGen TV will make its show floor debut, and hopes are high consumers will notice.

Scripps Taps Anderson As Chief Privacy Officer

Greg Anderson is chosen to lead the company’s privacy and data protection programs.

Senators Want Portable Social Media Data

Three U.S. lawmakers active in tech issues will introduce a bill requiring social networks like Facebook to allow users to pack up their data and go elsewhere, Sen. Mark Warner’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. The senators, Republican Josh Hawley and Democrats Warner and Richard Blumenthal, are introducing the bill at a time when there is growing concern that Facebook, along with Alphabet’s Google, have become so powerful that smaller rivals are unable to lure away their users.

TVN’S FRONT OFFICE BY MARY COLLINS

Collins | Navigating Complex Privacy-Cybersecurity Laws

Companies that sustain a data breach must be aware of applicable federal, state and foreign laws. Breaches generate a mélange of regulatory investigations, lawsuits, fines, reputational damage, drops in stock prices and business disruption. Whose information is taken determines the company’s obligations. Preparation is the key to staying out of the news.

FTC Fines Facebook $5B For Privacy Violations

The fine is the largest the Federal Trade Commission has levied on a tech company. As part of the settlement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will have to personally certify his company’s compliance with its privacy programs. The FTC said that false certifications could expose him to civil or criminal penalties.

Zuckerberg Touts Privacy-Friendly Facebook

Instead of just being the network that connects everyone, Facebook wants to encourage small numbers of individuals to carry on encrypted conversations that neither Facebook nor any other outsider can read. It also plans to let messages automatically disappear, a feature pioneered by its rival Snapchat that could limit the risks posed by a trail of social media posts that follow people throughout their lives.

FTC Ponders Multibillion-Dollar Facebook Fine

The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices, according to two people familiar with the probe. The fine would be the largest the agency has ever imposed on a technology company, but the two sides have not yet agreed on an exact amount.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Jeff Bezos Can Sue The Pants Off National Enquirer

A lawsuit could change the way we think about privacy in the digital age. Privacy is not quite dead. For egregious cases, there are remedies lying ready to hand in the civil law of torts, at least for the case that Bezos might want to bring against AMI.

ACLU Sues Govt. Over Social Media Surveillance

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Northern California branch filed a lawsuit Thursday against seven government agencies. They allege that the agencies are “investing in technology and systems that enable the programmatic and sustained tracking of U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike,” raising concerns about privacy and free speech.

Did 2018 Usher In A Creeping Tech Dystopia?

High-tech tools for immigration crackdowns. Fears of smartphone addiction. YouTube algorithms that steer youths into extremism. An experiment in gene-edited babies. Doorbells and concert venues that can pinpoint individual faces and alert police. Repurposing genealogy websites to hunt for crime suspects based on a relative’s DNA. Automated systems that keep tabs of workers’ movements and habits. Electric cars in Shanghai transmitting their every movement to the government. It’s been enough to exhaust even the most imaginative sci-fi visionaries.

Lawmakers Grow Impatient With Facebook

A new round of Facebook data controversies has incensed lawmakers and added to the social network’s mounting problems. Lawmakers have roundly criticized Facebook and its executives but it is unclear if they are any closer to bridging the divisions over a federal privacy law.

FTC’s Phillips Wary Of New Privacy Laws

New privacy laws — including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Privacy Act — could end up creating “protective moats” around established companies like Google and Facebook, while thwarting start-ups, according to Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips.

Facebook Faces First Fine Over Cambridge Analytica

CA Privacy Bill Raises Questions For Ad Industry

Facebook Makes Privacy Policy Push

Facebook said today it was publishing its privacy principles for the first time and rolling out educational videos to help users control who has access to their information, as it prepares for the start of a tough new EU data protection law.

Journalists, Know Your Rights On Privacy

As a journalist, you have a right to report truthful information, except where private. That’s where things get tricky. It sounds simple, but it isn’t always easy to discern what’s considered public and what is private.

JESSELL AT LARGE

Holiday Wish: Rein In Intrusive Digital Media

Digital media go way too far in collecting personal information and using it to target ads. It’s not good for people and, incidentally, it’s not good for broadcasting, which can’t compete with the likes of Google and Facebook in the Big Data game. A privacy law banning digital media from profiling their users is unlikely, but tough regulations that limit it may be possible.

Dingell Questions FCC About ATSC 3.0 Impact

Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell asks FCC’s Pai about what types of information would be collected from consumers to implement targeted advertisements under the new standard, and how the data would be handled and protected to ensure consumers’ privacy.

COMMENTARY

Wheeler Laments End Of FCC Privacy Regs

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says legislation now headed for the President’s desk “not only gives cable companies and wireless providers free rein to do what they like with your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information gleaned from your online activity, but it would also prevent the [FCC] from ever again establishing similar consumer privacy protections.”

Ad Industry Slams FCC’s Privacy Proposal

The FCC’s revised proposal for privacy rules would hinder broadband providers’ ability “to succeed in the developing marketplace” of online advertising, six major ad organizations say.

FCC Moves To Tighten Internet Privacy

According to the FCC, ISPs collect vast amounts of data on what websites individual customers are visiting and what apps they are using. Mobile carriers can even track the movements of their customers. Under the new rules proposed today, the FCC would not flat-out prohibit ISPs from using any of the data. Rather, it would leave it up to the customers, using an opt-in/opt-out approach.

Will The 1st Amend. Survive The Info Age?

As Apple tries to fend off government demands for access to iPhone content, the company is leaning on free speech arguments as a key part of its defense in a California courtroom. On the other end of the country, 10 separate lawsuits have piled up this year against net neutrality rules, with both sides claiming First Amendment rights in this long-running dispute over the federal regulation of Internet service.

RTDNA Asks Calif. DMV To Revisit Photo Rule

In the wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, the California Department of Motor Vehicles abruptly changed its long-standing policy on releasing the driver license photos of deceased people to the news media. A DMV spokesman said that photos would now be considered private data as outlined by state statute.

Calif. Law Expands Privacy Rights To Digital

News organizations were among the groups that pushed for passage of the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act signed Thursday. The law now requires police to get a court order before they can search messages, photos and other digital data stored on phones or company servers in the nation’s most-populous state.

FTC To Convene Privacy Conference

The Federal Trade Commission is calling for original research into privacy and security issues, including how “vulnerabilities” might be exploited to harm consumers. The agency will address the research on Jan. 14 at a conference about privacy. “We want to increase the FTC’s engagement with the technology community in order to more effectively encourage innovation that is protective of consumer privacy and security,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said.

Shooting From The HIPAA: Sources & Privacy

Earlier this month, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered a serious hand injury while celebrating Independence Day. He was taken to a hospital in Miami, was treated and reportedly required surgery. ESPN’s Adam Schefter learned that Pierre-Paul’s injured finger had to be amputated, and tweeted a picture of what he said was the football player’s medical chart, which included what appeared to be confidendial medical information. That set off a firestorm of debate over the implications.

FCC vs. FTC – A New Privacy Turf War

The FCC is about to muscle in on the FTC’s privacy turf and the FTC is pushing back. Since the 1999 Geocities case, the Federal Trade Commission has been the nation’s de facto privacy cop, bringing  more than 150 privacy and data security cases.  But the net neutrality order could make the FCC a much bigger player in privacy enforcement.

FTC Sees Privacy Threat In Internet Of Things

As consumers buy up fitness trackers, Internet-connected thermostats and even Web-enabled cars and toothbrushes, the Federal Trade Commission has a message: It’s watching. The agency is warning that as millions of new smart devices make people’s daily lives more convenient, they’re also collecting reams of personal information that raise new privacy and data security concerns.

Tech, Media Support MIcrosoft In Privacy Case

A broad array of organizations in technology, media and other fields rallied on Monday behind Microsoft’s effort to block American authorities from seizing a customer’s emails stored in Ireland. The organizations filing supporting briefs in the Microsoft case included Apple, Amazon, Verizon, Fox News, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, CNN and almost two dozen other technology and media companies.