Here's a bit of a blast from the past. A federal judge has decided that Amazon was in the wrong when it billed parents for in-app purchases made by their kids on its Appstore platform. Both Apple and Google settled this case with the Federal Trade Commission two years ago, but Amazon wanted its day in court. It didn't go so well. Read More
In the beginning, there was Android. Android was an open-source, largely hardware-agnostic operating system designed to work on a variety of devices and form-factors, and then Google bought the company that made it (also called Android, founded by Andy Rubin). Then, there was Google's Android. Google's Android was still open source, but now it came with stuff you'd actually want to use. Like an app store. And Google Maps. And Gmail. And Google Search. And did I mention Android itself was and is still open source? Because it was and is, and will continue to be likely for many, many, many years into the future. Read More
Heads up, app developers: there is a really good reason that the government licences people to practice medicine. Unless your app is smart enough to go through four years of med school, you probably shouldn't claim that it can diagnose diseases. The developers of "Mole Detective" on the Google Play Store and similar apps have reason to reflect on this, as the Federal Trade Commission has slapped them with fines and restricted them from claiming that their apps could reliably diagnose melanoma.
Malignant melanoma is an especially deadly form of skin cancer with an intimidating 85% mortality rate. Mole Detective and similar apps claimed (and in some cases, still claim) to be able to diagnose whether a mole or other skin abnormality represents melanoma. Read More
Mobile carriers like to play fast and loose with the word "unlimited" when it comes to data plans. They're often technically unlimited, but only fast enough to be useful until you hit a certain barrier. MVNOs operated by TracFone including Net10 and Straight Talk were a little more shady than most, and that led to today's FTC announcement of a $40 million fine against the company.
Bombastic T-Mobile CEO John Legere responded forcefully when the Federal Trade Commission filed suit against the Un-carrier over the summer for profiting from so-called "cramming." That's when a carrier allows third-parties to add premium SMS charges to customer bills without proper warning. Today the FTC has announced T-Mobile is settling the case for $90 million, most of which will go to customers who were charged for unauthorized services.
AT&T unlimited data users, your champion has arrived. Today the United States Federal Trade Commission announced that it has filed a federal court complaint against AT&T Wireless, alleging that the company misled customers by offering "unlimited" cellular data service that was severely reduced in speed at some times and places. The FTC's complaint takes issue with AT&T's failure to inform customers that the unlimited data they were paying for could be "throttled," often cutting data speeds to specific customers by up to 90 percent.
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez pulled no punches in accusing AT&T of deceptive advertising and violation of the FTC Act:
AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been on a crusade as of late to save the world from in-app purchases, and that's probably an okay crusade on which to be. The news has come down today that Google will be settling an FTC lawsuit by refunding about $19 million in unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids whose parents foolishly allowed them to go tapping around on their Android devices.
Update: Well that didn't take long. Here's what T-Mobile had to say in response.
We have seen the complaint filed today by the FTC and find it to be unfounded and without merit. In fact T-Mobile stopped billing for these Premium SMS services last year and launched a proactive program to provide full refunds for any customer that feels that they were charged for something they did not want. T-Mobile is fighting harder than any of the carriers to change the way the wireless industry operates and we are disappointed that the FTC has chosen to file this action against the most pro-consumer company in the industry rather than the real bad actors.
Sprint is currently in the midst of a buyout with Japanese company SoftBank that would give the foreign telecom control of not only the Now Network, but Clearwire as well, and infuse the company with some much-needed cash. Dish Network, however, hopes to derail these plans with a bid of its own, offering more cash than Softbank has on the table, as well as synergy with its existing television and and broadband packages.
Dish is offering Sprint roughly $25.5 billion for the carrier. This is about $5 billion more than SoftBank is offering, and would keep ownership of the company within the U.S. Read More
Bad news for Verizon subscribers: Verizon isn't just raping you on your bill, they're really getting you up the pooper because they're making a few more dollars off of you by selling your personal data. Things like where you are, what you're doing on your phone, your gender, age, and personal details like whether you're a "sports enthusiast, frequent diner, or pet owner."
Meanwhile, the FTC is investigating Google for possibly "abusing its dominance of internet search in violation of antitrust laws" and - get this - "misusing patent protections to block rivals' smartphones from coming to market." What? Read More