Ransomware, Smart TV, Drones – Oh, My!

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Ransomware, Drones, and Smart TV. That’s a trio you don’t often see together. The FTC will consider the consumer protection implications of those issues at three half-day conferences later this year. We call it the Fall Technology Series, and you’ll want to mark your calendar now.

Ransomware – 1:00 ET, September 7, 2016.  It’s a crime that extortionists commit with alarming frequency: “We’ve encrypted your documents. Pay up or you’ll never see your files again.” Sometimes they pose as FBI agents and claim a person owes a “fine” for viewing illegal material online. In a new variation, they target files on mobile devices. Short of going all Liam Neeson in Taken, what can people do when their data is held for ransom? The workshop will consider appropriate responses for consumers, businesses, and law enforcers.

Drones – 1:00 ET, October 13, 2016.  According to reports, one million new “unmanned aerial systems” – drones – will be bought this year. The technology has great promise, but what are the consumer protection ramifications of this new form of information gathering? The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is currently convening meetings to talk about best practices for privacy, accountability, and transparency, discussions that will undoubtedly provide important input for the FTC’s event.

Smart TV – 1:00 ET, December 7, 2016.  Just how does the little man who lives inside our TV know that since we like “The Americans,” we might love “The Game”? Do collaborations among TV and streaming device manufacturers, software developers, and advertisers allow them to target consumers and understand what ads might work? Are there best practices for addressing consumer privacy considerations on entertainment systems? Those are just some of the topics the Smart TV event will explore.

The workshops are scheduled for the FTC’s Constitution Center conference facility, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington DC. (It’s at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro stop.) Check the announcement for details about the discussion topics for each event. We welcome your comments and will keep the public record open for an additional 30 days after each event.

(Edited on April 20, 2016, to reflect the new 1:00 Eastern Time start for the three Fall Technology Series events.)



FTC will do well......!!!!!

I think that software updates for smart tv's needs to be addressed. Take a look at the GoogleTv product that was sold as a standalone product and also integrated into many smart tv's and bluray players. Google abandoned it for the more "innovatie" Chromecast (allowing any tv to become smart) Now they place blame on the company's they partnered with as to why GoogleTv services/apps are not being updated and some fail to work at all now; and in happened in just a few years time. Less, since already obsolete models were still being sold late in development. The creation of the Chromecast in such a small window of time and paired it with a whole new API in order to force consumers into another purchase. And these things don't just happen with smart tv's but smart phones and various other products. Consumers are told well its just the rapid advances in technology making older products obsolete. But lets say that any given company has already developed it's next two or three operating systems or API's. They can choose when to release them. And they are releasing them not because there are so many advances in our science and overall knowledge that necessitate it; but because its become a tool to increase profits. We used to be able to buy tv's that retained value and functioned as intended as long as their components took to wear out or replacement parts were no longer sold. Now its become a blame game due to software issues and business partnerships.We are talking about solutions that take 1's and 0's; not physical components. The necessary programming exists but no one wants to take on the cost associated with implementation. That's being forced time and time again on the consumer in probably thousands of product markets. When they abandon things so quickly they have basically used a given product launch as a large scale market test and passed that cost on to consumers. I feel that technology proprietors should be required to ensure products have an extended software lifetime. We need to be protected against what is essentially a gimmick/novelty and what has true long term value and functionality. Essentially all new devices of any given product line should be backwards compatible. And those paying app developers should dictate how long support has to continue before being fined. And any product partnerships should have to share associated costs.

Will there be a Live-Streaming of the Conference? Thanks.

Yes, you an watch the webcast live, Questioner. We'll post the link to the Ransomware live-stream in just a moment. Our usual practice is to post a link to the webcast on the event webpage just a few minutes before it goes live.

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