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

FTC cautions search engine companies that they aren’t properly distinguishing ads in search results

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The Federal Trade Commission has sent out a letter to 20 search engines informing them that they are not properly distinguishing the ads in search results from the actual results themselves. Back in 2002, the FTC doubled down on paid listings in search results, forcing search engines to clearly show a difference between the two, but the firm believes that since 2002,  companies have fallen back into their old habits. “We have observed a decline in compliance with the letter’s guidance,” the agency said in the letter.

The FTC has now issued new guidelines for search result ads, saying that things such as borders, shading, and text labels must be different when compared to true search results. The agency pointed a finger at Facebook’s new Graph Search feature, saying that “Regardless of the precise form search may take in the future, the long-standing principle of making advertising distinguishable from natural results will remain applicable.” Read more

Google faces FTC complaint over display advertising

According to Bloomberg, the FTC is now investigating Google over its Display ad business which it picked up originally in its purchase of DoubleClick almost a decade ago.

The fresh inquiry, which follows the FTC’s decision to close a review of Google’s search business in January without taking action, is in the preliminary stages and may not expand into a larger probe, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter hasn’t been made public.

FTC investigators are examining whether Google is using its position in U.S. display ads — a $17.7 billion industry that includes the sale of banner ads on websites — to push companies to use more of its other services, a practice that can be illegal under antitrust laws, the people said.

Out of the FTC Frying Pan, into the Fire. Read more