In the year since it launched, copyright enforcer Righthaven has been able to convince dozens of bloggers and small publishers to settle infringement lawsuits stemming from reposts of news articles. But in some cases where defendants fought back, Righthaven has suffered significant blows.
Earlier this year, an Albany, N.Y.-based spa named Complexions saw its Facebook page shuttered because another spa, also named Complexions, grumbled about infringement to the social networking service. Even though the spa that complained was based in California, and hadn't been around as long as the one in New York, Facebook nonetheless acted on the allegation. The spa in Albany responded by suing Facebook, in an effort to get its page restored. It's turning out that such incidents might be far more common than had been previously known.
When consumers brought a class-action privacy lawsuit against the Internet service provider Bresnan Communications for working with defunct behavioral targeting company NebuAd, Bresnan argued that the case should be dismissed because its agreement with subscribers included an arbitration clause. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Cebull in Montana rejected Bresnan's argument on that point. He ruled that the term wasn't valid because it was presented to consumers "on a take-it-or-leave-it basis." The judge might have decided differently had he waited until this week to make a decision.
Net neutrality might have become hopelessly mired in partisan politics, but not all tech issues seem to be destined for that same fate. Specifically, privacy protection is turning out to be a major focus of Democrats and Republicans alike on Capitol Hill.
Argentinian ad network Smowtion, which earlier this month launched in the U.S., could be in for some pushback from privacy advocates.Like many behavioral targeting companies, Smowtion allows users to opt out of ads targeted based on Web-surfing activity. Unlike many of its rivals, the company sets its opt-out to expire after only 30 days, Privacy Choice reported today.
The unsettling news that iPhones and iPads contain detailed records of every place their owners have gone has left many observers with more questions than answers. The most pressing one is why consumers had to learn of this feature from security researchers rather than Apple. So far, Apple's silence on that matter has been deafening.
Yahoo drew praise from privacy advocates three years ago, when it announced it would start shedding the logs that tie users' IP addresses to their search queries after just 90 days. At the time, some advocates said they hoped Yahoo's move would usher in a new era in which search companies competed to offer better privacy protections. Now, however, privacy advocates are fuming at the news that the company has changed its mind and will start retaining IP logs for 18 months.
Copyright enforcement outfit Righthaven hasn't had much luck lately. First, the company got into a public fight with a federal judge in Colorado. Righthaven last week filed papers withdrawing its poorly thought-out lawsuit against the disabled 20-year-old blogger Brian Hill, but added some gratuitous comments berating Hill and his mother for refusing to agree to Righthaven's settlement demands.
Within hours of AT&T's announcement that it planned to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion, consumer groups condemned the move for its effect on the market. Consolidation in the wireless space would obviously leave consumers with fewer choices of carriers and could very well also result in higher prices, for at least some consumers. Some advocates immediately suggested that the Federal Communications Commission should require AT&T to adhere to neutrality principles as a condition of the merger. But the concerns about the merger aren't limited to pricing or neutrality. Some privacy advocates have also raised questions about the deal.
Apple is preparing to join Mozilla and Microsoft in offering a do-not track tool for its browser that, when activated, will communicate to ad networks that users don't wish to be tracked.