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FTC

  1. FTC Finds No Evidence to Suggest Bias in Google Search Results, Concludes Investigation

    The United States Federal Trade Commission today officially concluded their antitrust investigation of search engine giant Google with a series of decisions ranging from interesting to potentially fascinating. Perhaps most importantly, Google must stop attempting to exclude competitors from using patents important to key technologies. In other words, they can't use the patents they've acquired from their Motorola acquisition like a giant cudgel. We say most importantly because it's the only major change being made. When it comes to the actual allegations of search bias, though, that's a horse of a different color.

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  2. App Kids: Developers are Lying About Advertising to Children

    Earlier this year the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) issued a report titled Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures are Disappointing (cringe-inducing emphasis theirs). They surveyed apps available from both iOS and Android platforms to see how available things like privacy practices were prior to downloading, and it's probably not shocking that their findings were disappointing, so the FTC told everyone involved to straighten up. Today the FTC released the findings of a follow-up study to see how things are improving. In short: They're not. In fact, the findings of the new report are even worse than the old one. Stay classy, app developers.

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  3. Sketchy Rent-to-Own Laptops Spied on Users, Took Photographs of Sexual Encounters

    To preface the rest of this story, let's just state once and for all that nearly all rent-to-own programs are sketchy, okay? There's really nothing good about them, unless it's the only option available. The Federal Trade Commission has only further reinforced this fact by revealing that several shady rent-to-own companies were spying on those using their laptops. They specifically installed spyware that could perform functions like taking pictures via the webcam and logging keystrokes.

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  4. Facebook Didn’t Actually Verify Verified Apps, Says FTC

    Facebook hasn't exactly been doing so hot lately, what with their 83 million fake users and everything. A recent investigation by the United States Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, includes interesting allegations on some of the company's shadier activities back in 2009. Back in the day, developers could pay a premium to submit their applications for a verification process that the FTC alleges was nothing more than what Facebook would typically do for any regular application.

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  5. FTC Hits Google With $22.5 Million Fine, Largest in Agency History

    The Federal Trade Commission has, in the last few years, become proponents of Internet privacy in the name of consumer protection. Which is why when it was reported that Google was tricking Safari into accepting cookies from websites, and in doing s0 monitoring their movements across the web, the agency leapt into action. Now, reports indicate that Google has agreed to pay the largest fine in FTC history: $22.5 million.

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  6. Feds Go After Those Irritating Weight-Loss Ads

    The Federal Trade Comission has filed a whopping 10 lawsuits against some of the companies responsible for the ubiquitous Internet ads selling fruit-based diet products, according to the Washington Post. Trust me, you've seen these ads around. They all feature shoddily animated bellies oscillating back and forth from fat to thin, and promising a "tiny belly" or "one tip" for weight loss. Clicking on such an ad usually leads to a faux-news website which in turn leads to another site where customers can order weight loss products derived from acai berries or mangos. Of course, it's a scam. Many of the ads sell products from companies like HCG Ultra Lean Plus, using a formula copied by many other marketers. Placing an order for a "free" sample through one of these sites usually leads to something much worse. From the Washington Post:

    Someone who orders a sample offered by one hCG marketer, for example, is technically agreeing to pay an additional $79.99 for another shipment of the product two weeks later, and another $79.99 six weeks after that, according to the disclaimer. The charges and the product keep coming until the buyer calls a toll-free number to cancel.
    The ads were made by a cadre of companies operating independently of each other and spending around $10 million in total to place the ads. All told, this seems to have brought in billions of pageviews for the advertisers, which the FTC claims led to huge profits. 

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  7. Video Game Retailers Rate Best at Not Selling Mature Games to Minors

    As the result of a recent undercover shopper study, the Federal Trade Commission has declared video game retailers the best at not selling mature-rated content to minors. The FTC found that only 13% of minors were able to purchase content rated Mature (ages 17 and up) by the ESRB. Of the games retailers secretly shopped, GameStop performed the best, only allowing 8% of minors to purchase an M-rated game, with Target second at 9% and KMart third at 10%. Compared to other forms of media, such as movies and music, the video game retailers did an even better job: The FTC found that 33% of minors were able to buy an R-rated movie, 38% were able to rent an R-rated movie, and 68% were able to buy music with a parental advisory warning label. (USA Today via GamesRadar)

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  8. FTC Wants “Do Not Call” List Equivalent for Internet Tracking

    Telemarketers may be annoying, but they've gotten a lot less so since the National Do Not Call Registry went into effect in 2004, allowing phone owners to automatically screen out most unwanted calls by opting into the list. Now, as Internet tracking gets deeper and more pervasive, the FTC wants a "Do Not Call" equivalent for the Internet: A so-called "Do Not Track" list. Proposals are still floating around as to what form this would take; however, one of the simplest on the table is that it would exist as a browser setting. The FTC says that Google, Apple, and Microsoft [makers of Chrome, Safari, and IE, respectively] have already experimented with this.

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  9. The Google-AdMob Deal is a Go: FTC Closes Investigation

    Google just got a nice post-I/O gift, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission. As of today, the FTC has, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, officially closed its investigation of Google's $750 million attempt to buy mobile ad company AdMob.

    In their statement describing their conclusions, they specifically cite Apple's entry into the mobile advertising market as a reason the deal is "unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks."

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  10. Apple to Be Hit with Antitrust Inquiry Over Restrictive iPhone Dev Policy?

    Apple's restrictive development policy for iPad and iPhone 4.0 apps may have broader effects than simply pissing off software developers and the Slashdotters who love them. According to a New York Post report this morning, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are both considering slapping Apple with an antitrust inquiry -- which is not a full-scale antitrust investigation, but which typically precedes such investigations -- and the only thing "lock[ing] up negotiations" is which of the two agencies should take the lead.

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