Microsoft Calls For International Conference On Government Surveillance

online privacy Last week President Obama announced reforms to curb NSA domestic spying abuses. There was a range of reactions but many critics contend he didn't go far enough. The proposed reforms also probably don't help the tech industry very much. Perhaps feeling let down or skeptical that the US reforms will change much Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith is calling for an international conference on data privacy and government surveillance: While there is no substitute for American leadership and action on these issues, the time has come for a broader international discussion. We need an int [...]


Google Remarketing Ads Broke Canada Privacy Laws, Concedes To Revamp Ad Review System

Google legal Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner has found Google in violation of Canada’s privacy rights for the use of sensitive health history in remarketing campaigns. The finding comes after an investigation spurred by a Canadian man who complained that his private health information was being used by Google to retarget him with ads for sleeep apnea devices after he visited sites with information about those devices. In the process of the investigation, Canada's privacy watchdog also found Google's automated ad review system to have "demonstrable shortcomings". As a result, Google has a [...]


Facebook Faces More Legal Action From Sponsored Stories: This Time For False Endorsements

facebook Yesterday, Facebook announced it is scrapping parts of its Sponsored Stories ad product -- the ads that show what other users "Like."  It turns out, the same day a Colorado man filed a class action suit claiming the ads were used for false endorsement. The suit alleges Facebook began showing ads that said "Tony DiTirro likes USA Today." DiTirro claims he never "Liked" USA Today's Facebook page or visit the USA Today website. DiTirro was tipped off about the ad by a friend, according to the filing. The suit claims Facebook "knowingly used [DiTirro's] likeness and Facebook profile to adve [...]


Google Faces Maximum Privacy Fine, Public Shaming In France

Google Europe legal With the NSA spying scandal and a brewing transatlantic privacy dispute in the background, Google was given the maximum fine, 150,000 euros (roughly $203,000), for violating French privacy rules with its "unified" privacy policy. The French privacy authority, the National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties (CNIL), previously gave Google three months to change and "fix" its privacy policy or face the fine. Google maintained that it was in compliance with European privacy standards and declined to make any changes. As expected the company was penalized. The financial penalty wil [...]


Beastie Boys Decide To File Lawsuit Against GoldieBlox For Using Song “Girls” In Viral Video Ad

law-legal-concept According to a report on Gigaom.com, the Beastie Boys have decided to file a counter lawsuit against the toy company GoldieBlox for copyright infringement, claiming the toy company used the song "Girls" in one of its video ads without permission. This all started mid-November, when the toy company released its "GoldieBlox, Rube Goldberg & Beastie Boys Princess Machine" YouTube video ad with reworked lyrics from the Beastie Boys song "Girls."  The video went viral, generating more than eight million views in just over seven days. Before releasing the video, GoldieBlox failed to get [...]


Tech Leaders Join To Demand “Global Surveillance Reform”

privacy-security-online-computer Major US tech companies have joined together to urge the US government and the governments of other countries to limit internet-based spying on individuals and to promote new legal frameworks to resolve related international issues. The group is demanding "global government surveillance reform." The companies are Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, AOL and Twitter. Others will likely follow their lead and join the effort. The group drafted an open letter to President Obama and Congress and set forth principles that they would like to see guide policy development. Here's the bulk [...]


FTC: Native Ads “May Be Illegal” In Some Cases

law-legal-concept The FTC this week held a workshop in which the topic of "Native Advertising" was discussed. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez is quoted by Reuters saying, "By presenting ads that resemble editorial content, an advertiser risks implying, deceptively, that the information comes from a non-biased source." The implication is that the FTC is ready to crack down on the rapidly growing format, which is either being used or actively considered by three-fourths of online publishers, including the NY Times. In a way the entire point of Native Ads is to make them closely resemble editorial so consumers [...]


The Future Of Internet Sales Tax: What’s Next After The Supreme Court’s Denial Of Amazon, Overstock Appeals?

law-legal-concept This week, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals filed by Amazon and Overstock.com that challenged the ability of states to collect sales tax on items sold online by out-of-state retailers. The appeals stem from New York's passing of what has become known as the "Amazon Tax," which expands the definition of  nexus to include in-state affiliate marketers. Amazon and Overstock.com claimed the expanded interpretation of nexus violates Constitutional interstate commerce law and due process. The retail giants point to the US Supreme Court's 1992 ruling in favor of mail-order business Qu [...]


Advertorial Native Ads To Receive Closer FTC Scrutiny

Trojan Horse At one time the mixing of editorial and advertising content was an unthinkable breach of journalistic ethics. Now it's the hottest online advertising trend: Native Ads. Native Ads don't automatically violate US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules against "deceptive advertising" provided they're identified as sponsored content. However the question is whether publisher websites are sufficiently calling out Native Ads as advertising. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FTC is hosting a "workshop" on advertorial content this week called "Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?" to dis [...]


Dutch Data Protection Authority Says Google’s Privacy Policy Breaks Privacy Laws

google-europe-featured A statement released yesterday by the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) claims Google's privacy policy is in breach of the Dutch data protection act. According to the statement: Google combines the personal data from Internet users that are collected by all kinds of different Google services, without adequately informing the users in advance and without asking for their consent...On top of that, Google does not offer users any (prior) options to consent to or reject the examined data processing activities. "Google spins an invisible web of our personal data, without our consent. And that [...]


GoldieBlox Removes “Girls” Music From Video Parody, Hopes For Peace In Letter To The Beastie Boys

law-legal-concept The GoldieBlox legal battle against the Beastie Boys over the band's song "Girls" being used in a parody ads may be nearing an end. Today, GoldieBlox removed the original video, replaced it with one that no longer uses the Beastie Boys music and published an open letter to the band hoping for peace. In a post titled "Our Letter to the Beastie Boys" posted on the GoldieBlox blog, the toy company says it has removed the song from its parody video and is willing to stop legal action it took to use the song as long as the Beastie Boys halt any legal threats. "We don't want to fight with yo [...]


Beastie Boys Fight For Their Right – But Maybe The GoldieBlox “Girls” Parody Video Is Legal?

law-legal-concept Last week, toy company GoldieBlox released its "Goldieblox, Rube Goldberg & Beastie Boys Princess Machine" YouTube video, an ad set to the music of the Beastie's Boys song Girls with reworked lyrics. The video's positive message to empower girls resulted in the ad going viral, generating more than 8.6 million views. The only problem is GoldieBlox never received approval from Beastie Boys to use the band's music. According to a New York Times report yesterday, GoldieBlox filed a suit against the Beastie Boys to deflect a copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming its version of the song [...]


EU Privacy Complaint Takes Aim At Google’s ‘Shared Endorsements’ Ad Content

Google Europe legal Privacy advocate Simon Davies has filed a formal privacy complaint in 14 European countries against Google's expanded "Shared Endorsements" ad program. The "Privacy Surgeon," as Davies calls himself, lodged the complaint today with data protection regulators in Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands and Poland. The complaint argues that Google's Shared Endorsements violates a range of specific provisions of the "Article 29" data protection rules and that the opt-out aspect places too much of a burden on c [...]


Verdict: Samsung Owes Apple $290 Million More But It Won’t Matter

apple-logo-black The Judge (Lucy Koh) in the landmark Samsung-Apple patent trial in California ordered a partial retrial on damages. Today the damages case was sent to the jury, which deliberated and awarded Apple $290 million more according to AllThingsD. In total, Samsung owes Apple nearly a billion dollars in damages not counting legal fees. Yet for both companies, this doesn't end their global legal battle, nor does $1 billion matter much to Samsung. In the third quarter Samsung made roughly $9.6 billion in profit, roughly two-thirds of which come from the sale of mobile devices. Android is the do [...]


German Court: Google Privacy Policy Violates Consumer Rights

google-privacy-200 A German court has ruled that Google's integrated privacy policy violates its national data protection law, according to a report from IDG news service. Google has had trouble and been criticized in Europe since consolidating its many privacy policies into one in March 2012. Google has maintained that its unified privacy policy, which allows the company to combine data sets across Google properties, benefits consumers because it's simpler than having numerous, independent privacy policies. European governments have repeatedly asked for clarifications, additional information and more recently [...]


Nearly $40 Million Later, Google Ends “Cookiegate” Scandal

google-building-featured The Wall Street Journal reported earlier today Google will pay $17 million "to settle allegations brought by 37 states and the District of Columbia that it placed unauthorized tracking 'cookies' on Web browsers in 2011 and 2012." That $17 million, combined with the $22.5 million Google paid as part of a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement over the same claims, brings to nearly $40 million the amount the company has forked over to resolve "Cookiegate." In February 2012 the Wall Street Journal initially reported that Google and a couple of other ad networks, including Gannett’s Poin [...]


Facebook’s Recent Privacy Policy Updates Take Effect Today

Facebook-Home-Logo Facebook's controversial privacy policy updates -- announced back in August -- are taking effect today. In a blog post today, the company goes out of its way to explain that the update doesn't change Facebook's advertising policies, it only changed the language in Facebook's official policy documents. One of the controversial word changes, however, has been removed -- a sentence related to minors and their parents. The language said that Facebook was assuming parental consent of the company's potential use of personal information in connection with sponsored content. In today's announcem [...]


New TCPA Guidelines: What Do They Mean For Mobile Marketing?

fcc-logo By now, you have likely noticed that everyone is talking (and texting) about the amendments to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) -- the same legislation that spawned the "Do Not Call" registry. But the news isn't exactly new. In fact, the TCPA guidelines were amended by the FCC in early 2012; but, they just went into effect on October 16, 2013. So why should we be concerned? While the guidelines encompass telephone solicitations as well as messaging, this article will focus on the impact of these changes to mobile marketers in particular. We will cover: The changes to the exist [...]


Google Quietly Testing Offline Store Visits Tracking

smartphone-map-checkin Last month Google announced a program called "Estimated Total Conversions." That program is intended to report or provide visibility into cross-device and offline conversions by tracking the activities of signed-in Chrome users and extrapolating that data to the broader Google user population. The offline component of conversion tracking wasn't supposed to begin until 2014. However, according to a report in Digiday, Google is currently experimenting with tracking offline store visits, using smartphone location, and trying to connect that back to mobile ad exposures: Google is beta-testing [...]


Getty Images Enters Deal To Provide Photo Credits On Images Uploaded To Pinterest

pinterest-copyright-featured Both Pinterest and Getty Images announced last week a joint multi-year deal in which Pinterest will pay Getty Images a fee to attach rich metadata to images uploaded to the social media network. According to the announcement on the Getty Images blog: Getty Images will use our PicScout image recognition technology to identify exclusive Getty Images content on Pinterest. Then, we'll use our API, Connect, to provide relevant metadata to Pinterest - including Getty Images photo credits, where and when the image was shot and more.  Both Pinterest and Getty Images are pushing the new partnersh [...]


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