Are you attending DEF CON 22 or will you be in Las Vegas from Aug. 7-9? Do you hate robocalls from “Rachel at Cardholder Services” and her countless robot clones and minions? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions or know someone who might, please keep reading!
Quick, what’s the most annoying tech-related problem since internet popup ads?
Does enjoying a camcorder, a new computer, or a football game mean you have to risk personal harms like loss of privacy? Sometimes we enjoy advances in technology with protections like privacy. How can we do so more often?
Before I go any further, let me advise you that I am solely responsible for this blog’s content, characterizations, ideas and choice of topic. This blog does not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or any of its Commissioners. The goal of this blog post is to spark discussion and debate.
The Federal Trade Commission is launching a new program, Summer Research Fellowships in Technology and Data Governance. Spend your summer exploring ways to design, create, assess, and analyze technology at its intersection with business, society and policy. This 10-week program gives students hands on experience with work relevant to the FTC by assisting the FTC's Chief Technologist and others with real-work exploratory projects of interest to the FTC.
We are amidst an era of open data –a period in which we share details of our personal lives widely in exchange for all kinds of services, often trusting companies with our most intimate facts. Sharing information about our personal lives has fostered technological innovations and influenced more transparency in government (e.g., [1,2]) and in science (e.g., [3,4]). However, once personal data are acquired, it may be shared with others without consumer awareness. So how might we add transparency to data sharing? The goal of this blog is to spark discussion and debate.
Children can perform amazing feats using iPhones and iPads, but an Apple business practice may unfairly bill parents. In January, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Apple Inc, in which the company agreed to provide full refunds to consumers, paying a minimum of $32.5 million, to settle a FTC complaint that the company billed consumers for millions of dollars of charges incurred by children in mobile apps without consent . The Complaint  and statements from FTC Commissioners [3,4,5] alone provide FTC's position on the case.
Anyone can setup wireless sensors to record the appearance of your mobile phone’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth probes to track where you are and where you have been –say, where you are when you're ambling through store or mall, or when you're walking or driving down a street. Some retail stores are experimenting with this technology to track your whereabouts, so FTC held a public hearing on the topic on February 19, 2014. Consumers and retailers already engage in loyalty programs. Should mobile phone tracking be part of loyalty programs?
One of the top-level recommendations of the FTC privacy report was greater transparency about the data practices of companies and technologies. The report pointed to mobile apps as especially needing better transparency. Indeed, a previous FTC staff report on mobile apps for kids found that hardly any of the apps that were studied offered full privacy disclosures.
Today the FTC announced that it has settled a complaint against RockYou, on charges that the company’s inadequate security led to a breach of consumer data, and that the company collected personal information from children it knew to be under 13 without parental consent.
Today the FTC is releasing a major report on privacy. Privacy geeks will read the whole thing–and should, because it represents a lot of careful thinking by folks in the agency.
But if you’re a techie who doesn’t have time to read it all, let me point you to a few of the parts you’ll probably find most interesting.
Welcome! I’m Ed Felten, Chief Technologist at the FTC. Let me introduce you to this blog.
As the nation’s consumer protection agency, the FTC works on technology issues every day. You’ll see lots of discussion of technology in our reports, cases, speeches and testimonies, not to mention the consumer and business education pieces we publish. But we haven’t had a venue for speaking, more directly and less formally, to the technically minded public about tech issues. That’s what this blog is for.