Planet Google

FTC More Serious Than Ever About Federal Action Against Google


The FTC has been examining Google’s business practices for a while and tonight the New York Times reports that the commission has prepared a memo recommending the United States file suit against the company for allegedly massaging search results to favor Google products, among other things.

It’s not a done deal that the government and Google will end up arguing the case in court, but a memo currently being prepared by the FTC is a big step in that direction: Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez Fan Sites Fined $1 M. for Child Privacy Violations

(Photo: Instagram)

Artist Arena, the division of Warner Music Group behind fan sites for pop music stars like Justin Bieber, Selena GomezRihanna and Demi Lovato, has agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The New York Times reports that the company has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty for illegally collecting personal information from children.

The pop stars themselves haven’t been accused of any misconduct. But because Artist Arena asked for details like birth dates in order to let fans create online profiles, the FTC argued that the company knew very well that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) by collecting the addresses and cellphone numbers of roughly 101,000 users aged 12 or younger without parental consent or notification. Read More

It's Zuck's World We're Just Living In It

Instagram and Its 5 Billion Photos Officially Welcomed Into the Facebook Fam

Founder Kevin Systrom across the street from Stumptown Roasters, because of course (Photo: Instagram)

Five months after Facebook announced that it would be acquiring Instagram for $1 billion in cash (yay!) and stock (hrmm), the social network is rolling out the welcome mat. The deal was held up by a Federal Trade Commission investigation into potential anticompetitive practices. The FTC approved the acquisition a couple weeks ago, concluding that the popularity of Instagram competitors (like Hipstamatic and Camera Awesome) compared to Facebook Camera meant that competition was thriving.

In its report, the Office of Fair Trading included the fact that Instagram didn’t have any revenue to speak of and didn’t have data on its users–misreading the situation entirely. As The Next Web noted: “That discounts, of course, the enormous contextual value of the location data recorded with each image, not to mention the facial recognition database that Facebook has been working on making second-to-none.” Read More

Privacy Police

Sen. Charles Schumer Sics the F.T.C. on Apple and Android

Sen. Charles Schumer

Well-known foe of fun and fan of probes Senator Charles Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) to examine claims Apple and Android can spy on your application data. The Senator’s request was made public Sunday. In it he referenced recent reports that certain smart phone and tablet applications can look at user photos and upload contacts to Apple and Google servers. Read More