The Plain View

from Plaintext Like any good nonfiction writer, the Majority Staff (i.e., Democrats) of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has produced a long-read document distinguished by deep research and an unyielding thesis: Big Tech is too big, too bad, and fights dirty. Sixteen months ago, the subcommittee set out to expose bad behavior in Silicon Valley’s top companies. Empowered with subpoenas, it had little trouble finding it. The docket of whistle-blowing witnesses and damning exhibits uncovered a litany of bullying, self-interested, anti-competitive behavior that justified the exercise, which some thought redundant because of ongoing investigations by the […]

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The FCC Just Made It Easier For Companies To Sell Your Information

from TNW The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is trying to block a privacy rule which would protect your internet data. The FCC ruled last year that internet service providers (ISPs) would be required to adopt “reasonable” security measures to protect their customers’ data by March 2. Now Pai is seeking a stay on that rule. One of the security measures companies will no longer have to abide by is getting consumer consent before sharing sensitive information. According to TechCrunch, the information includes browsing history, children’s information, location, and Social Security numbers. In a statement, a spokesman says Chairman Pai requested the […]

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Vizio Smart TVs Tracked Viewers Around The Clock Without Consent

from ars technica Vizio, one of the world’s biggest makers of Smart TVs, is paying $2.2 million to settle charges that it collected viewing habits from 11 million devices without the knowledge or consent of the people watching them. According to a complaint filed Monday by the US Federal Trade Commission, Internet-connected TVs from Vizio contained ACR—short for automated content recognition—software. Without asking for permission, the ACR code captured second-by-second information about the video the TVs displayed. The software collected other personal information and transmitted it, along with the viewing data, to servers controlled by the manufacturer. Vizio then sold the data […]

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United States: Federal Trade Commission Issues First-Ever Guidance On “Unfair Methods Of Competition”

from bizlitnewsblog Section 5 of the 1914 Federal Trade Commission Act declares that “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce” are unlawful. The Act also empowers the Commission to prevent persons, partnerships, and corporations from using “unfair” methods of competition. But the FTC, notes the Wall Street Journal, “has never formally defined what it means to compete unfairly.” Well, had never. On August 13, 2015, the FTC released a statement – its first ever— of three “principles” to which it “adheres” “[i]n deciding whether to challenge an act or practice as an unfair method of competition in violation of Section 5 on […]

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How Corporations Took Over the First Amendment

from The Atlantic When the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that POM Wonderful was overstating pomegranate juice’s health benefits in its advertisements, a press release from the FTC, which was challenging POM in court, called the decision “a victory for consumers.” The Wall Street Journal agreed, describing it as “a notable win.” In a sense, it was: The company was banned from trumpeting its juice as an elixir that could help prevent heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction if there wasn’t sufficient research done to back up those claims. But in another sense, the decision wasn’t a victory at all. Buried in the […]

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White House Proposes Broad Consumer Data Privacy Bill

from NYTs The Obama administration on Friday proposed a wide-ranging bill intended to provide Americans with more control over the personal information that companies collect about them and how that data can be used, fulfilling a promise the president had talked about for years. But some privacy advocates immediately jumped on the proposed legislation, saying it failed to go far enough, particularly given the broad statements President Obama had made on the issue. They said the bill would give too much leeway to companies and not enough power to consumers. There are already a number of federal laws, like the Fair […]

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Justices Find Antitrust Law Valid Against Dental Board

from NYTs The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a state dental board controlled by dentists may be sued under antitrust laws for driving teeth-whitening services out of business. The decision, by a 6-to-3 vote, set standards that will most likely also apply to state licensing boards, including those for doctors, lawyers and other professionals. States often rely on such boards to decide which potential competitors may ply their trades. The case, North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 13-534, concerned a dental board with eight members, six of whom were required by state law to be practicing dentists and […]

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