The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

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Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

If DRM is so great, why won't anyone warn you when you're buying it?

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Last month, I filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of Electronic Frontier Foundation, 22 of EFF's supporters, and a diverse coalition of rightsholders, public interest groups, and retailers, documenting the ways that ordinary Americans come to harm when they buy products without realizing that these goods have been encumbered with DRM, and asking the FTC to investigate fair labeling for products that come with sneaky technological shackles. Read the rest

Illegal "Warranty Void If Removed" still ubiquitous: they're on the Xbox One S

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The tamper-evident "Warrant Void If Removed" stickers violate the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, which allows device owners to take their gadgets for service at independent depots without voiding their warranties. Read the rest

DRM: You have the right to know what you're buying!

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Today, the EFF and a coalition of organizations and individuals asked the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explore fair labeling rules that would require retailers to warn you when the products you buy come locked down by DRM ("Digital Rights Management" or "Digital Restrictions Management"). Read the rest

Security researcher discovers glaring problem with patient data system, FBI stages armed dawn raid

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Justin Shafer was roused from his bed this week by thunderous knocking at his North Richland Hills, Texas home, and when he opened the door, found himself staring down the barrel of a 'big green' assault weapon, wielded by one of the 12-15 armed FBI agents on his lawn. Read the rest

Silverpush says it's not in the ultrasonic audio-tracker ad-beacons business anymore

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Silverpush, the company that pioneered covert ultrasonic audio beacons that let advertisers link your activity on phones, tablets and laptops, says it will no longer sell the technology and does not want to be associated with the idea any longer. Read the rest

Come forward with your DRM horror stories and make a difference!

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I'm working on a campaign with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to document and change the way DRM stuff -- ebooks, music, videos, games, and devices -- are marketed and sold, and I need your help! Read the rest

The surveillance business model goes to war against the FTC

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You may have noticed a surge of articles criticizing the Federal Trade Commission for its innovation-stifling, headline-chasing, out-of-control attacks on business. The timing of these articles, op-eds and jeremiads isn't an accident. Read the rest

Lifelock admits it lied in its ads (again), agrees to $100M fine

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Lifelock, the tragicomically awful identity-theft protection service, has settled the FTC's suit against it, agreeing to pay a $100M fine for violating its 2010 promise to end its deceptive advertising practices. Read the rest

With Roca Labs smackdown, the FTC slams non-disparagement clauses for the first time

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I cheered the news that the Federal Trade Commission was suing Roca Labs, the sleazy "weight-loss" company that sold people industrial food thickeners as "non-surgical gastric bypasses" and made them sign contracts promising not to post about any negative experiences they after trying the scammy, high-priced "treatment." Read the rest

FTC clobbers Roca Labs, the terrible weight-loss company that banned negative reviews

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If you follow my tweets of interesting stories from one year ago, you'll have seen the Roca Labs saga popping up again. Roca sold a "non-surgical gastric bypass" that was mostly made from industrial food-thickeners that were supposed to gunk up your stomach and fill you up. Read the rest

U.S. FTC sues AT&T over mobile data throttling

An AT&T logo is seen atop a store in Beverly Hills, California August 31, 2011. [REUTERS/Danny Moloshok]

The U.S. government today filed a lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the nation's second-largest wireless carrier of selling users unlimited data plans, then slowing down Internet speeds after they hit a certain data use threshold. Read the rest

Fed whistleblower secretly recorded 46 hours of regulatory capture inside Goldman Sachs

Carmen Segarra is a former FTC regulator who joined the fed after the financial crisis to help rescue the banking system -- but she was so shocked by the naked regulatory capture on display that she ended up buying a covert recorder from a "spy shop" and used it to secretly record her colleagues letting Goldman Sachs get away with pretty much anything it wanted to do. Read the rest

Comcast's lobbyists are pretty damned chummy with top antitrust feds

A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. Read the rest

Anti-robocall robot shows how compromising phone metadata is

Alan sez, "Nomorobo recently won the FTC's contest for best anti-robocall invention. It uses a feature of the phone system that's already mostly in place which lets the Nomorobo device get the call at the same time as you do, checks the calling number against certain spam signatures (e.g. calling blocks of numbers sequentially) and auto-disconnects the robocaller before your phone even can ring. Anyone who claims you can't do interesting things purely with phone call metadata has not thought about the problem long enough." Read the rest