President Barack Obama plans to name longtime industry lobbyist Tom Wheeler to helm the Federal Communications Commission, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Politico.
Last October, after Gawker posted a one-minute excerpt of a sex tape of Hulk Hogan and a friend's wife, Hogan quickly went to federal court. Hogan sought an order directing Gawker to remove the clip on the ground that it violated his privacy. But U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore in Florida refused, noting that prior restraints -- or orders censoring content before trial -- are almost always unconstitutional. At that point, Hogan decided to sue Gawker in state court. There, things went very differently.
A bill to update digital privacy laws took a major step forward this week when the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the measure. The proposed bill would revise the 27-year-old federal wiretap law by requiring authorities to obtain search warrants before accessing people's emails, texts, documents stored in the cloud and social media posts.
When Austrian law student Max Schrems wanted to know what information Facebook had about him, all he had to do was ask. In turn, the social networking service gave him a 1,200-page report of friend lists, photos, records of chats, "likes," "pokes," people he unfriended, material he "deleted," and event invitations. As a resident of Europe, Schrems was entitled to that information because the EU's broad privacy laws give people the right to demand data about themselves that's held by companies. Now, a lawmaker in California has proposed a bill that would give state residents that same right.
Although 4 trillion do-not-track signals are sent by Firefox each month, almost all are ignored. That's because the signals themselves don't block tracking -- they communicate users' preferences, but ad networks and publishers are free to treat that information as they see fit. Although a few companies -- including Twitter, Jumptap and The Associated Press -- have said they will honor those signals, the vast majority appear to be ignoring them. Why aren't publishers and ad networks more receptive?
Business and ad groups are stepping up their efforts to persuade the Federal Trade Commission to push back the effective date of new children's privacy rules, currently slated to take effect on July 1.
The Senate today moved forward with a bill that could impose new tax-collection obligations on e-commerce companies. While the Senate hasn't t yet voted on the Marketplace Fairness Act itself, lawmakers did vote 74 to 20 to close debate on the bill, which could come to a full vote this week.
The outgoing Federal Communications Commission chair, Julius Genachowski, frustrated many consumer advocates by refusing to condemn broadband pricing models that tie fees to the amount of data consumed. On the contrary, Genachowski said more than once that he supported the concept of pay-per-byte pricing. Last year at an industry event he reportedly said that tiered pricing "could be healthy and beneficial."
A do-not-track system that allows consumers to easily stop online data collection is "long overdue," Federal Trade Commission head Edith Ramirez said this week.
For years, shady online companies lured mobile users -- often young teens -- into singing up for paid subscription services by promising "free" ringtones. Those practices led to crackdowns by law enforcement, but at least companies engaged in that kind of practice made a token effort to get people to opt in -- even if people were tricked into doing so. Now some companies are going even further and actually signing people up for services that cost around $10 a month without first obtaining any kind of consent. Wise Media, based in Grayson, Ga., is one of those companies, according …