Hate Being Added to Email Mailing Lists without Your Permission? Now is Your Chance to Let the FTC Know!

With little fanfare, this month the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened up a request for comments regarding our Federal anti-spam law, known as CAN-SPAM. For those who are not aware, the U.S. is the only first-world country that has not outlawed the practice of adding someone to a mailing list without first obtaining their express permission.

FTC Sues AT and T for Throttling Data of Unlimited Data Plan Customers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against AT and T, alleging that by throttling the data of their unlimited data customers (who were grandfathered in to the old unlimited data plan) once those customers reach a certain level of data usage, they are violating their offer of “unlimited data”, which offer was used to induce those customers to renew their contracts with AT and T, and to upgrade to new phones.

FTC has Rachel in its Crosshairs as They Clamp Down on Phone Spam Robocalls

The phone spam calls start out essentially the same, “Hi, this is Rachel from cardholder services..” or “Hi, this is Rachel from cardmember services…”.. then usually it will either say something like “..calling in reference to your current credit card account. It is urgent that you {take some action}”, or “Please hold for an important message…” or she will ask you to select from several options with your phone’s touch pad. Most often it is “Press 1 to speak to an operator, press 2 to be removed from the call list.” Stacey and Stacy have been making a lot of these calls too, about extended warranties. These are so-called “robocalls” – generated (often overseas) with the Rachel or other similar script and computerized dialing, and almost always peddaling some scam, be it debt relief, credit card consolidation, mortgage refinancing, or some similar financial scam. It has gotten so bad that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ran a “Robocall Challenge”, offering a $50,000 reward for the best proposed technology to deal with the burgeoning robocall problem.

I’m a Patent Assertion Entity, Not a Patent Troll, Thank You Very Much

As the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) became more and more flooded with patent applications, what with the increase in emerging technologies, the dot.com bubble, the growth of Silicon Valleys, etc., to name but a few factors, they seemed to be unable to keep up with the glut of new patent applications and, many believe, their approval process became “approve them all, and let the courts sort them out.” Sort of the bureaucratic version of “kill them all and let God sort them out.” And to extend the analogy, a new St. Peter was born. Only, these entities were far from saints – in fact, they are trolls. Oh, excuse us – they are “Patent Assertion Entities”. Now, to be fair, there is a place for the legitimate Patent Assertion Entity (or “PAE”) – which is an organization whose business model is primarily the purchasing of patents and then the assertion of the rights attendant and pursuant to those patents. But many such outfits really do deserve the term “patent troll”.

Kids’ Gaming Apps, Such as Mobbles, Being Preemptively Pulled Off the Market as FTC Gears Up to Launch Privacy Violation Investigation

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is gearing up to launch a children’s mobile game privacy investigation that is so massive, kids’ game makers, such as Mobbles, are hastily yanking titles before the FTC investigation becomes official. Mobbles was unofficially informed that their software is part of the some 200 titles being investigated in connection with accusations that they are storing the private information of its young users, including their locations.

Federal Trade Commission Offers $50,000 Bounty Reward to Whomever Can Stop Automated Phone Spam with First Ever “FTC Robocall Challenge”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responding to what they say is a huge surge in automated phone calls, or, “robocalls,” by offering a cash reward and prizes to the person, or group of people, who can thwart these calls in the “FTC Robocall Challenge.” According to the FTC, complaints about robocalls skyrocketed to a high of 212,000 this past April, compared to the last high of 65,000 complaints in October of 2010.

FTC Gears Up to File Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

Google is yet again finding themselves in hot water as the Federal Trade Commission is poised to slap them with an antitrust lawsuit. The FTC staff recommendation for the antitrust lawsuit is not unexpected given the swift investigations of Google by California, New York, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas. On top of the U.S. investigation, there is also an antitrust investigation of Google taking place in Europe.

Google Slapped for Continuing to Collect Personal Data from Safari

Google is again blaming technical glitches for violating privacy policies and collecting personal data, this time from those using Apple’s Safari web browser. Google has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $22.5 million – the largest amount that the FTC has ever fined – because they sneakily undermined the privacy settings of millions of Safari users by using computer code to trick Safari into granting Google access to user activity through cookies.

Herbal Supplement Spammer Actually Goes to Jail

If you were on the Internet in 2005 or 2006, you almost certainly also received spam for an herbal weight loss supplement called ‘Hoodia’, among others, and, if you received spam for Hoodia, then it’s also almost certain that Brian McDaid was behind it. In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nabbed McDaid, a chiropractor from Thorndale, Pennsylvania, and charged him with false and deceptive business claims, and several violations of the Federal anti-spam law, CAN-SPAM.

Myspace and Feds Settle Charges Over Myspace’s Sloppy Sharing of User’s Personal Information with Advertisers

Myspace (yes, they are still around, believe it or not) has settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission over Myspace’s alleged misleading of their users as to how Myspace was handling user personal information. Put plainly, Myspace was sharing the personal information of their users with advertisers, but misleading users about how they were using their personal information.

Business Fined Quarter of a Million for Not Securing Customer Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined game developer RockYou.com $250,000 for, among other things, failing to adequately secure their customers’ user data. While the FTC slammed Rock You for COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule) violations, in part because RockYou collected information from children under the age of 13 without parental consent, the Feds made a point of noting that “the company’s security failures put users’ including children’s personal information at risk” while at the same time claiming that they had adequate security measures in place. Adequate security measures our foot! They stored their user data in plain – i.e. unencrypted – text! The FTC settlement and fine follows a 2 year investigation into the hacking of RockYou servers in 2009 which exposed the date of 32 million users.

The Trick of the “1 Trick of a Tiny Belly” Ads is that They are Part of a Massive Scam, say Feds

The only way that you could have missed the “1 trick of a tiny belly” or “One tip to a tiny belly” ads that have been everywhere – absolutely everywhere – on the Internet would be if you hadn’t been on the Internet yourself. Well it turns out that those “1 tip” ads, some of which tout “Cut down a bit of your belly everyday by following this 1 weird old tip”, are part of a massive network of scams which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has uncovered.