Individuals willing to lay down their lives—or at least risk them for the promise of steady employment—shouldn't have to put up with phony websites designed to snag and sell their personal information. It's an opinion that's apparently shared by the FTC.
The FTC filed a complaint in federal court today charging that two Alabama-based companies, Sun Key Publishing and Fanmail.com, made roughly $11 million selling data to private schools. The companies would contact the potential recruits and encourage them to enroll at specific for-profit schools under the false impression that the U.S. military endorsed the organizations. If the mark sounded interested, Sun Key would sell that recruit’s information for anywhere between $15 and $40. Tens of thousands of people visited the websites every month.
The defendants were charged with violating the FTC Act as well as the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and reached a settlement with the government. But they won’t have to give back that $11 million because of their “inability to pay.”
The evil geniuses behind the scam used websites with the web addresses Army.com and Air-Force.com (apparently Army.com has been privately owned since 1995,) to lure in hopeful candidates looking to work a job that never makes you think about what you should wear to work. According to Gizmodo, for the time being, the FTC is staying quiet on which schools were benefiting from the ill-gotten personal information. Chances are, as the FTC develops their case against the digital imposters and their clients, we'll learn more about the who-did-whats. Read the rest
Back when the anti-Net-Neutrality was pretending to have anything like an argument (apart from, "NETWORK NEUTRALITY INTERFERES WITH MY ABILITY TO BECOME LIMITLESSLY RICH, GO FUCK YOURSELF), one of the stupid pieces of spaghetti they threw at the wall was, "The FCC shouldn't regulate telcos, that's the FTC's job."
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There is, at long last, a public appetite for Doing Something About Facebook (and, by extension, about all of Big Tech); I have been playing with the idea of regulating the outcome, rather than the method: we give Facebook a certain period of time to remedy the situation whereby people "can't afford to leave Facebook" and then, if that situation isn't remedied, impose some sanction and either break them up or give them another go, with more sanctions if they fail.
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Since the passage of the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, "Warranty Void if Removed" stickers and other policies that put restrictions on third party repairs have been unenforceable in America, but that doesn't stop companies from putting deceptive tamper-evident stickers on their equipment in an effort to trick or intimidate their customers into going to a manufacturer-authorized service depot.
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Vtech is the Taiwanese kids' crapgadget vendor that breached sensitive data on 6.3 million children and their families, lied about it and covered it up, then added a dirty EULA to its products that made us promise not to sue them if they did it again.
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Public Knowledge's Harold Feld is one of the leading and most longstanding pro-Net Neutrality telcoms lawyers in America, and in a post, he analyzes Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to punt Net Neutrality enforcement to the Federal Trade Commission, by looking back on the four most significant decisions the FCC ever made on Net Neutrality, and shows that the FTC would have had no authority to act on any of those cases.
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The crackdown on "influencers" engaging in undisclosed paid endorsement roiled Instagram last year, but now the crackdown on sexual misconduct on influencers is affecting readership at Mic, Upworthy, GOOD, and Slate, who quietly paid influencers like George Takei to promote their articles on their personal accounts. Read the rest
The Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Lenovo over the 2015 revelation that the company pre-installed malware called "Superfish" on its low-end models, which allowed the company to spy on its customers, and also left those customers vulnerable to attacks from third parties, who could exploit Superfish's weakened security. Read the rest
Homeolab USA is a Canadian company that makes "homeopathic" remedies for kids; in a warning letter sent to the company earlier this month, the US FTC warned the company that it had discovered dangerous levels of belladonna (AKA deadly nightshade) in its infant teething products, and advised the company that its manufacturing process was putting its customers' safety at risk. Read the rest
For a generation, Americas anti-trust enforcers have walked away from their duties, gripped by an ideology that says that bigger companies mean more profits (which benefit the rich) and lower prices (which benefit everyone else). Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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