Facebook Settles “Sponsored Stories” Litigation For $20 Million

likes-featured Yesterday, a court in San Francisco approved settlement of potential class action litigation against Facebook over its Sponsored Stories program. Sponsored Stores are ads that include identification of users' friends who've "liked" the advertiser. Facebook has agreed to pay $20 million to end the case. The settlement was approved over various objections including the argument that minors' privacy rights are not sufficiently protected under the terms of the settlement. Child advocates had wanted parental approval before minors' content could be used commercially. The essence of plaintiffs [...]


Yahoo Gives Out Inactive Usernames Via “Wishlists” & Launches “WatchList” With A $1.99 Fee

yahoo-featured Yahoo users who completed a Wishlist for their "dream" Yahoo username/email last month should find out today if they received one of their top five choices. According to the announcement, even if a user didn't win one of the five usernames they submitted on their Wishlist, Yahoo's newly launched Watchlist will offer more opportunities to claim a Yahoo ID. Yahoo's Watchlist allows users to monitor up to five usernames for three years. The company says that if any of the usernames on a Watchlist become available, the user will have 14 days to claim it. Any users who completed a Wishlist will [...]


Privacy Groups Ask Court To Reject Google Settlement, Claim It Won’t Fix Privacy Issues

computer-internet-legal-law-featured Last month, Google agreed to pay $8.5 million to a settlement fund over a lawsuit claiming the site had given private information included in user search queries to third parties without gaining consent from users or notifying them that the information was being shared. The court approval for the settlement was scheduled for today, but five US privacy groups have requested that the settlement not be accepted. PCWorld reports that the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, Patient Privacy and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse wrote a joint letter a [...]


Microsoft’s Latest Scroogled Target: Google’s “Gspam” Ads That Look Like Email

gspam Microsoft has taken another shot at Google today with the latest push in its ongoing "Scroogled" campaign. This one? Another attack on Gmail. Or, as Microsoft is calling it today, "Gspam." That's the term they're using for those ads that look like emails in Gmail (which, last I recall hearing, was still a limited Google test). From today's update on Scroogled.com: Consumers should be able to trust their email provider to protect them from spam, but Google is doing just the opposite. Rather than protect you from spam, Google is reading your private email conversations and using what they fi [...]


Twitter’s Latest Transparency Report Details Increases In DMCA, Removal & Information Requests

Twitter Logo Twitter's latest transparency report shows that the company is seeing double-digit increases in data-related requests so far this year from governments and other rights holders. Twitter breaks down the requests it gets into three types: information, removal and copyright notices. All three are up significantly so far in 2013 compared to the same time period a year ago. Information Requests: Twitter has received 1,157 of these so far this year, a 36 percent increase compared to the first half of 2012. Removal Requests: These went from just six last year to 60 so far in 2013, a 1,000% i [...]


Pinterest Announces Support For Do-Not-Track

pinterest-logo Buried in a post about greater, coming personalization on Pinterest is a statement that says if consumers don't want the tracking they can opt-out. The company supports Do-Not-Track (DNT): We’re excited to give everyone a more personalized experience, but we also understand if you’re not interested! We support Do Not Track, and you can change your account settings anytime. The New York Times points out that after Twitter (in May 2012), Pinterest is the next major player on a very short list of Internet brands to support DNT. Microsoft (with IE 10), Chrome and Mozilla are all supporters o [...]


UK’s ICO Watchdog Tells Google To Update Privacy Policy By September 20th Or Else

ico The NextWeb reports Google is on the hot seat again over its simplified privacy policy that went into effect March 1, 2012. The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK has set a deadline of September 20, 2013 for Google to amend the policy to make it easier for consumers to understand how Google will use their data. The ICO's statement was released yesterday, and the ICO president said: We have today written to Google to confirm our findings relating to the update of the company’s privacy policy. In our letter we confirm that its updated privacy policy raises serious questions a [...]


The Google Glass Privacy Debate: What’s Real & What’s Overblown Hype

google-glass-glow-featured To hear some people tell it, Google Glass is leading us down a path toward a world where every citizen is a walking, hidden spy, surreptitiously recording videos and photos of everything -- and everyone -- we see. What's more, they're afraid that those videos and images are being posted on the Internet for all the world to see, warts and all. Some are afraid that Glass is auto-recording (or will) everything it can see or hear, and each word you've ever spoken within earshot of Glass will be available in Google's search index. These fears typically come from people that don't know how Gla [...]


Google Tells Congress: We’re Not Changing Our Privacy Policy For Google Glass

glass-orange-featured Google says it has no plans to change its company-wide privacy policy for the eventual public launch of Google Glass. That's one of the discoveries in a four-page letter dated June 7th that Google sent to Congressman Joe Barton, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus -- the group that sent Google a letter back in May with numerous questions about privacy and Google Glass. The fifth of eight questions that the caucus presented to Google mentions the "sensory and processing capabilities" that Glass has, and asks if Google has "considered making any additions or refinements [...]


FTC Commissioner Surprises Marketers With “Reclaim Your Name” Proposal

ftc-logo The debate over online and data privacy in the US is intensifying in the wake of the NSA surveillance revelations. However the effort to do something about data privacy has largely stalled in Congress -- despite many blustery pronouncements and calls for investigations. There are also private initiatives that are seemingly deadlocked, including the WC3's effort to come to agreement on Do Not Track. This morning, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill addressed the Computers Freedom and Privacy Conference and made remarks that reportedly caught many marketers and online ad trade groups off guard. B [...]


Europe: Google Wins “Censorship” Battle, Slammed On Antitrust Proposals

Google Europe legal Google's struggles in Europe continue. However the company apparently has won something of a reprieve in its battle against the emerging "the right to be forgotten," which Google largely regards as censorship. But on the antitrust front, Google faces stepped up criticism of its settlement proposals from critics and opponents. On Monday, an advisory (non-binding) opinion from Niilo Jaeaeskinen of the EU Court of Justice found that Google cannot (or should not) be compelled to de-index material that was originally legally posted on third-party publisher sites. According to an article appe [...]


Google Has 35 Days To Delete UK “SpyView” Data Or Face “Criminal Action”

google-street-view-car The UK data protection authority Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has served notice that Google must destroy personal information obtained from its Street View WiFi "payload" data collection within 35 days. While Google has a right to appeal the decision, a refusal to comply (absent an appeal) is considered a "criminal office" and could result in prosecution. The ICO letter (.pdf and below) is dated June 11, so the deadline would be mid-July. This ultimatum is the culmination of a UK investigation that began in 2010 following the "WiSpy" revelations that launched investigations [...]


Google Given Privacy Ultimatum By French: Fix It Or Face Fines

google-privacy-200 The French have given Google what amounts to a privacy ultimatum. The company now has three months to make changes or "fixes" to its privacy policy that satisfy French and broader European data protection laws. The immediate consequences for failure to do so could be fines of several million euros according to Bloomberg. Many nations in Europe have lined up behind the French who are taking the lead in trying to get Google to offer more transparency to users about what data are being collected and how those data are being used. European privacy rules are much more stringent than those in the U [...]


Survey: 96 Percent Say “Do Not Track” Should Be Respected

privacy-security-online-computer A new survey from a group called Consumer Action has an unequivocal message for marketers: do not track us. The telephone survey was conducted in May among 1,000 US adults. The findings are pretty negative, even ominous, for publishers and ad networks. However, they should come as no surprise. In numerous past surveys consumers have consistently expressed ambivalence and even outright hostility to the idea of being tracked and targeted by online marketers, ad networks and publishers. This survey was partly funded through "a grant from Microsoft." Below I highlight some of the findings bu [...]


Canadian Govt. Asks Google To Explain Google Glass Privacy

google-glass-logo-200px Google Glass isn't publicly available yet, and even the Explorer edition is supposed to only be for US residents, but that's not stopping the Canadian government from getting out in front of what it considers to be several privacy issues surrounding the device. Data protection authorities in Canada sent a letter today to Google CEO Larry Page, asking the company to take part in a "real dialogue" about the "significant privacy issues" related to Google Glass. Here's a portion of the letter, which is signed by Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and 36 provincial and internatio [...]


Yahoo: We Take User Privacy Seriously Too!

yahoo-legal Following missives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple over the past 72 hours, Yahoo issued its own disclosure statement last night about law-enforcement data requests. Signed by CEO Marissa Mayer and General Counsel Ron Bell, the statement said that there had been "between 12,000 and 13,000" data requests during the past six months: We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it. To that end, we are disclosing the total number of requests for user data that law enforcement agencies in the U.S. made to us between December 1, 2012 and [...]


Apple: iMessage, FaceTime More Secure Than Cell Phones

Apple logo Following the NSA-PRISM surveillance revelations last week and "direct-access rebuttals" by other major tech firms, Apple has released a similar statement denying that the government has unfettered access to its users' data. Apple said, "We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order." The company said it was "authorized [by the US] to share" and that in the past six months "Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and [...]


Google, Facebook In Transparency Battle Over PRISM Disclosures

online privacy Last night, what might be called a "transparency battle" erupted between Google and Facebook following Facebook's disclosure of government-related user-data requests: For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a p [...]


As Early As 2000 NSA Set Out To “Live On The Network”

Great Seal of US An enormous amount has already been written about the National Security Agency's (NSA's) "domestic spying" since The Guardian's initial revelations about the secret collection of telco company records just a couple of days ago. That was followed 24 hours later by even more explosive revelations from The Washington Post of supposedly direct NSA access to the servers of major US Internet companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook. Almost all the companies named in top-secret slides exposed by The Washington Post have issued strong denials -- in the case of Google, multiple denials [...]


PRISM, The Tech Companies & Monitoring Versus Requests

online privacy Tech companies are hand-in-hand cooperating to let the US government perform on-going monitoring of people, or at least their data. Right? Probably not. They are probably doing something very different, providing data when legally compelled to on a case-by-case basis. Understanding these two things is helpful to avoid some of the PRISM hysterics going on right now. The PRISM Monitoring System Around this time Thursday, the Washington Post and the Guardian had made the case that major tech companies were involved in a PRISM program that, to quote the whistleblower who provided the information [...]


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