Google slams News Corp, The Wall Street Journal for ‘inaccuracies’

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Google is no stranger to publicly responding to News Corp after the media company issued a letter last year claiming Google was engaged in unfair business practices, and today Google is once again slamming News Corp for what it’s calling inaccuracies in a recent article about the company.

In a blog post on its Public Policy blog, Google’s SVP Communications and Policy Rachel Whetstone takes apart a recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiling Google’s antitrust probe by the FTC and provides counterpoints to what she says are inaccuracies in the report: Read more

FTC denies that decision to clear Google of antitrust charges was “a close call”

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The Federal Trade Commission has issued a statement denying the WSJ‘s suggestion that the decision to clear Google of anti-competitive behavior was “a close call.”

The WSJ yesterday obtained part of one of the investigative reports, which included a sentence reading “Although it is a close call, we do not recommend that the Commission issue a complaint against Google for this conduct.”

As we stated when the investigation was closed, the Commission concluded that Google’s search practices were not, “on balance, demonstrably anticompetitive.”

Contrary to recent press reports, the Commission’s decision on the search allegations was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel.

The FTC describes the WSJ story as “misleading” …  Read more

Leaked FTC report on Google’s business practices provides fascinating look behind the scenes

File photo shows people walking by a YouTube sign at the new Google office in Toronto

Half of a 2012 FTC report on Google’s business practices has been “inadvertently disclosed” in an open records request by the WSJ. Bizarrely, what was leaked was every other page of the report. MarketingLand’s Danny Sullivan has been busy reading the report and tweeting some of the things revealed by it.

The FTC eventually concluded that Google had not violated antitrust laws by favoring its own services over that of rivals, but found it was “a close call.”

Google did, for example, promote its own services in search results …  Read more

WSJ: Google spent $16.8 million on lobbying in 2014, has almost weekly meetings at the White House

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The Wall Street Journal has published a new report highlighting the reach that Google has in the United States government. According to the report, Google employees have visited the White House 230 times since President Obama took office. That comes out to an average of roughly once a week. For comparison’s sake, Comcast employees have met at the White House just 20 times since Obama’s inauguration.

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More information from FTC investigation reveals details of Google’s unfair search result tactics

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The Wall Street Journal today published a report highlighting an investigation done by the Federal Trade Commission that began in early 2013. The investigation centered around how Google skewed search results in an effort to promote its own services over competitors. Google, according to the FTC report, was accused of boosting its services for shopping, travel, and local businesses.

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Google begins notifying users of $19 million settlement with FTC over in-app purchases

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Google has started notifying users of its Play Store about a $19 million settlement it reached with the FTC in September. The company is being required to pay out refunds for in-app purchases made by children on their parents’ credit cards after one of Apple’s lawyers brought the case to the FTC’s attention.

Users will have until December 2nd, 2015 to log into their Play Store accounts and mark any in-app purchases that were made by a minor in order to qualify for a refund. The total refund isn’t limited to $19 million, as that number serves only as a minimum required by the FTC.

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FTC suing AT&T for throttling unlimited data user speeds, carrier calls claims “baseless”

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced that it is suing AT&T for “deceptive and unfair data throttling”. The FTC’s announcement seems to target AT&T’s practice of lowering data transfer speeds for customers with unlimited data plans versus customers with tiered data plans now offered. From the FTC’s press release:

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.”

AT&T has called the FTC’s allegations baseless adding that the carrier has been “completely transparent” with its subscribers.

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Google reaches $19 million settlement with FTC over unauthorized in-app purchases by children

Google Play DevelopersAn ongoing investigation conducted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that has accused Google — and other major tech companies — of making it too easy for children to make in-app purchases is finally set to come to a close for the Mountain View-based company.

Google has reached a settlement with the FTC that will see it pay out at least $19 million to parents billed for unauthorized in-app purchases by children. The FTC order also requires Google to change its mobile app billing practices to ensure that parental consent is properly obtained before charges are applied. Read more

Xiaomi apologizes for uploading address book data from smartphones without permission

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Former Android head and Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra has apologized to owners of its smartphones for “any concern caused” by collecting contact data from address books without permission.

A recent […] report by F-Secure raised privacy concerns by stating that Xiaomi devices are sending phone numbers to Xiaomi’s servers. These concerns refer to the MIUI Cloud Messaging service. As we believe it is our top priority to protect user data and privacy, we have decided to make MIUI Cloud Messaging an opt-in service and no longer automatically activate users […]

We apologize for any concern caused to our users and Mi fans. We would also like to thank the media and users who have been sending us feedback and suggestions, allowing us to improve and provide better Internet services …

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FTC now alleging Amazon is also unlawfully billing parents for children’s in-app-purchases

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Amazon is now a part of the Federal Trade Commission’s investigations into technology corporations with mobile application marketplaces unlawfully billing parents for in-app-purchases. Both Apple and Google have been tangled in the allegations with Apple settling earlier this year and Apple telling the FTC to investigate Google. The FTC today announced it is filing a complaint against Amazon, saying that children have been able to buy goods and extras within apps without the consent of parents. The full release from the FTC can be found below:

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Sprint reportedly close to acquiring T-Mobile for almost $32 billion

After several months of rumors, Sprint is reportedly finally nearing a deal to acquire T-Mobile USA. The two have reportedly been in negotiations for awhile now, but they have apparently finally reached an agreeable number. The deal, as it stands now, would have Sprint acquiring the Uncarrier for $31.3 billion. T-Mobile currently has about $15 billion in debt and $5 billion in cash. Sprint is valuing the company at roughly $40 a share.

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Google fights to have iPhone privacy case dismissed from UK courts

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Google, which was fined $22.5M by the FTC for illegal use of tracking cookies on iPhones even when the user had set Safari to reject them, is asking the UK’s High Court to reject a claim for compensation from a group of British iPhone owners, reports The Guardian.

Google is arguing that any case should be held in the U.S., and that UK courts have no jurisdiction in the matter. It also observes that a similar claim in the USA was dismissed two months ago.

Google has been called “arrogant and immoral” for arguing that a privacy claim brought by internet users in the UK should not be heard by the British legal system […]

In the first group claim brought against Google in the UK, the internet firm has insisted that the lawsuit must be brought in California, where it is based, instead of a British courtroom …  Read more