Consumer advocates have hoped for a long time that Web companies would compete with each other to offer better privacy protections, but so far that's been slow to happen. Now, an anti-Google video has surfaced that specifically takes aim at Gmail on privacy grounds. The clip, available on YouTube and other sites, shows "Gmail Man" snooping in people's emails in order to figure out which ads to serve them.
Earlier this month, the Stanford Center for Internet & Society's Jonathan Mayer reported that ad networks violate their privacy policies by continuing to track people after they have opted out of behavioral targeting. Today, Stanford post-doctoral fellow Arvind Narayanan posted an item that's likely to also spark debate in the online ad world. In the piece "There is no such thing as anonymous online tracking," Narayanan argues that information about people's Web activity can frequently be tied to their names.
Republicans in the Senate almost certainly don't have enough support from their Democratic colleagues to block the Federal Communications Commission's neutrality rules. But that isn't stopping GOP lawmakers from continuing to voice their unhappiness with the rules.
When Facebook launched its facial recognition feature last month, the company spurred complaints by people who said the tool didn't adequately protect users' privacy.
Netflix told shareholders today that a 23-year-old privacy law is "discouraging" it from integrating with Facebook in the U.S. The 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act requires movie rental companies to get customers' written consent before disclosing information about the videos they have rented. The law also requires companies to shed users' video rental records within a year of the time the provider no longer needs the data.
Advocacy group Free Press recently launched a new initiative aimed at exposing what it calls "covert consolidation" in the media industry. As part of the campaign, the group created a short video with examples of how different local TV stations are sharing anchors, reporters, footage of interviews and even Web sites. Newport Television, a media company based in Kansas City, Mo., responded by demanding that YouTube take down the video.
Several years ago, before renaming itself Epic Advertising, the online ad company then known as AzoogleAds agreed to pay $1 million to settle a probe by the Florida Attorney General relating to allegedly deceptive offers for "free" ringtones. This week the company is again under scrutiny for pushing the online-advertising envelope.
A federal judge has granted Google's request to recommend that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals consider whether the company violated federal wiretap laws by intercepting WiFi transmissions. The move means that the class-action lawsuit against Google will be placed on hold while the appellate court considers the issue.
Copyright enforcement company Righthaven is running into more roadblocks in court. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt dinged the company $5,000 for making misleading statements in court documents.
Earlier this week, Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer posted preliminary results of a study about ad networks and privacy. He found that a big swath of companies that belong to the Network Advertising Initiative continue to collect data about users after they opt out of behavioral advertising. What's more troubling is that Mayer found that eight networks -- 24/7 Real Media, Adconion, AudienceScience, Netmining, Undertone, Vibrant Media, Wall Street on Demand and TARGUSinfo Advisor -- appear to have broader privacy policies than industry standards require, but also appear to violate those policies by collecting data, or failing to delete cookies, after …