by Mike Masnick
Mon, Sep 8th 2014 3:48pm
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Sep 3rd 2014 9:03pm
FCC Issues Largest Ever Fine To Verizon For Hiding Ability To 'Opt-Out' Of Selling Customer Info To Marketers
from the still-a-slap-on-the-wrist dept
At issue was that Verizon is required to have either an opt-in system for sharing information on users with marketers or an opt-out system. But if they have an opt-out system, they have to clearly tell new customers that they can opt-out and how to do so. Not surprisingly, Verizon chose the "opt-out" method... and then conveniently left out the part where they tell customers they have the right to opt-out. And they did this for several years. To approximately two million customers. Oh, and to make matters worse, the company is required to let the FCC know of any violation within five business days of becoming aware of it. Verizon finally "noticed" it's own failure to tell people about the opt-out in September of 2012, but forgot to say anything to the FCC for... 126 days. That's a bit longer than five.
For many of its customers, Verizon has used an opt-out process, sending opt-out notices to customers either as a message in their first bill or in a welcome letter. During its investigation, the Enforcement Bureau learned that, beginning in 2006 and continuing for several years thereafter, Verizon failed to generate the required opt-out notices to approximately two million customers, depriving them of their right to deny Verizon permission to access or use their personal information for certain marketing purposes. Moreover, the Enforcement Bureau learned that Verizon personnel failed to discover these problems until September 2012, and the company failed to notify the FCC of these problems until January 18, 2013, 126 days later. Under the terms of the Consent Decree the FCC announced today, Verizon must take significant steps to improve how it protects the privacy rights of its customers. For example, Verizon will now include opt-out notices on every bill, not just the first bill, and it will put systems in place to monitor and test its billing systems and opt-out notice process to ensure that customers are receiving proper notices of their privacy rights. Any problems detected that are more than an anomaly must be reported to the Commission within five business days, and any noncompliance must be reported as well.The fine is a slap on the wrist, but this once again suggests the rather cavalier attitude the telcos have concerning privacy and the ways in which they clearly are not particularly concerned about obeying FCC regulations.
To resolve the matter, Verizon will pay $7.4 million to the U.S. Treasury, which is the largest such payment in FCC history for settling an investigation related solely to the privacy of telephone customers’ personal information.
Tue, Aug 5th 2014 1:16pm
from the they-must-hate-money dept
FIFA, the soccer/futbol/whatever organization that theoretically runs a sporting operation sure seems to actually be some kind of steroid-taking IP lawyer in practice instead. Much like the method by which the Olympics does their business, FIFA has always gone overboard in enforcing its trademarks. It insists on getting airline ads that don't even mention it pulled down, it goes after breweries, and it generally behaves like a psychopathic rich kid who thinks all the toys in the world are his and his alone.
Reader John Katos writes in with the latest head-scratching example of this. Nico Rosberg is big in the world of F1 racing and he wanted to celebrate the German's winning the World Cup with a helmet in an upcoming race. German pride, in other words, because when has that ever gone wrong?
Earlier this week, delighted with the national team's world cup victory in Brazil, Mercedes driver Rosberg announced he will wear a "special edition helmet" this weekend in Hockenheim. The 29-year-old German revealed on social media that the livery includes an image of "the FIFA trophy".
See that thing on top of the helmet? You know, the one that looks like Cthulu's claw reaching up to grip some kind of golden testicle? Well, that's the World Cup trophy, which, really you guys, come up with something a little better than that for the World freaking Cup. Regardless, the uber-lawyers over at FIFA saw this display of national pride and free FIFA advertising and took a dump on it.
We reported earlier that reproducing the image of the trophy falls foul of the world football federation FIFA's strict rules protecting its 'official marks'. The Mercedes driver's public relations manager Georg Nolte confirmed: "There will be an update on Nico's Germany helmet design today.Yes, rather than working out some kind of way to license the helmet for free so as not to risk the dreaded not-protecting-the-mark penalty that seems to drive so much of this heavy-handed nonsense, FIFA just killed off the free advertising. Quite sporting of them, if you ask absolutely no one.
"(It) will be without (the) world cup trophy, but (now) with four stars on it."
Fri, Feb 7th 2014 12:42pm
from the data-brokers-or-broken-data? dept
Attention world: there is a problem growing and something must be done about it! Some weeks back, a story about OfficeMax sending out a letter to a customer that was addressed to "Daughter Killed in Car Crash or Current Business."
“The mailing list OfficeMax requested from the third-party provider was for Businesses, Small Offices and Home Offices,” says OfficeMax spokesperson Karen Denning by email. “NO personal information qualifiers were part of our request; we were not seeking personal information and did not ask for it. As an additional measure to prevent future mailing errors, we have upgraded the filters designed to flag inappropriate information.”Note what they're saying. They're saying that they hadn't requested personal information for this mailing list. They are not saying that the data broker does not have that information, nor are they saying that they have not, or never will, request such information. This only made readers of the story ask even more questions about who has what data on them and how that data is used in business.
Without more information about what exactly happened here, we’re left to assume that there are data brokers keeping track of parents with dead kids and that someone put an entry into the wrong spreadsheet cell, accidentally listing Seay’s tragedy in the column designated for the name of his business.On its own, the explanation that a telemarketer might note that there was a car death to denote sensitivity in sales might have sated most of the public. But, like I said: epidemic. Or at least the start of one, now that we have a similar story, one that might not be quite so easy to explain.
On Thursday, freelance writer Lisa McIntire's mother received a credit card offer from Bank of America sort of addressed to her daughter. There was one tiny difference, though, in the name; instead of Lisa McIntire, the letter was addressed to a "Lisa Is a Slut McIntire." McIntire's mother contacted her daughter via text and then sent a series of photos. McIntire, of course, was slightly disturbed and took to Twitter to share the unusual junk mail.
by Michael Ho
Wed, Jan 29th 2014 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Coca Cola has apologized for its "Share A Coke" website in South Africa that apparently didn't limit user input to people's names. Filtering user input is a lesson that seems to be re-taught again and again. [url]
- McDonald's asked people to share stories of their favorite memories of the burger chain giant, but not everyone had cheerful, glowing things to say. The #McDStories hashtag was pulled from promotion after just a couple hours. "#McDStories: McDialysis? I'm loving it!" [url]
- Back in 2009, Skittles turned over their main website to anyone on Twitter who simply mentioned "skittles" in their tweets. Was that campaign a success or a failure? Tell us in the comments below.... [url]
by Michael Ho
Tue, Nov 19th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- Jean-Claude Van Damme has performed his most epic splits ever for a Volvo ad. But before that, JCVD had a lot of practice doing the splits on film. [url]
- Goldieblox mashes up a Rube Goldberg machine with a Beastie Boys cover to promote its girl-targeted toy that is supposed to expand girls' toys beyond just dolls and pink accessories. If there's a formula for a viral ad, it probably should contain some catchy music or a Rube Goldberg contraption. [url]
- One of the most viral online ad campaigns of all time has to be Blendtec's series of 'Will it blend?' videos. Will an iPad blend? Yes, but first they had to cheat a little and bend the iPad in half to make it fit into the blender. [url]
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Oct 18th 2013 3:30am
from the I'm-shocked,-shocked dept
One of the ironies of European outrage over the global surveillance conducted by the NSA and GCHQ is that in the EU, communications metadata must be kept by law anyway, although not many people there realize it. That's a consequence of the Data Retention Directive, passed in 2006, which:
requires operators to retain certain categories of data (for identifying users and details of phone calls made and emails sent, excluding the content of those communications) for a period between six months and two years and to make them available, on request, to law enforcement authorities for the purposes of investigating, detecting and prosecuting serious crime and terrorism.
Notice the standard invocation of terrorism and serious crime as a justification for this kind of intrusive data gathering -- the implication being that such highly-personal information would only ever be used for the most heinous of crimes. In particular, it goes without saying that there is no question of it being accessed for anything more trivial -- like this, say:
Some Dutch telecommunications and Internet providers have exploited European Union laws mandating the retention of communications data to fight crime, using the retained data for unauthorised marketing purposes.
Of course, the news will come as no surprise to the many people who warned that exactly this kind of thing would happen if such stores of high-value data were created. But it does at least act as a useful reminder that whatever the protestations that privacy-destroying databases will only ever be used for the most serious crimes, there is always the risk of function creep or -- as in the Netherlands -- outright abuse. The only effective way to stop it is not to retain such personal information in the first place.
by Joyce Hung
Mon, Jun 10th 2013 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- In a recent TED talk, Pallotta suggested that charities should be rewarded for what they actually accomplish even if it costs a lot. People may not like the idea that their money is being used to pay for a charity's CEO salary or for advertising and marketing, but they should think about it this way -- investing in a capable leader and effective marketing efforts will significantly increase the amount of money raised that can then be used to help those in need. [url]
- It's really hard to turn money into help. That's what Tim Myers, founder of the Haiti School Project, realized after having spent more than $100,000 to build a school in Villard, Haiti. [url]
- Somaliland's success could be partly due to its lack of foreign assistance. Somaliland has been operating successfully as an independent country since it seceded from Somalia in 1991. Since Somaliland isn't recognized as a country by the rest of the world, it hasn't been able to receive foreign aid. As a result, it has been surviving by raising local tax revenues, which its citizens have been using as leverage to make the government more accountable.[url]
- Experts at The Center for Global Development suggest that there may be an "aid-institutions paradox" in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. They concluded that foreign aid could undermine a developing country's long-term institutional development and that donors should consider giving money to other more beneficial development activities, such as eradicating endemic diseases, peacekeeping, regional or global public goods, and debt relief.[url]
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 25th 2013 9:44am
Film Distributor Convinced Oscar Nominees To Take Down Their Own Short Films, Because No Real Film Would Be Online
from the wtf dept
The fact that all the films were put online is perplexing as Academy voters have other and better means of viewing the films, including through the Academy-provided DVDs of all the Live Action and Animated short film nominees sent to all voting members. Making the films available online creates no competitive advantage.First off, that last statement is pure hogwash. A large and growing number of feature length films have been released online for free as a marketing tool. There's a whole company called Vodo.net that has helped filmmakers do that. All the way back in 2008, we wrote about director Wayne Wang (who has directed movies like The Joy Luck Club, Smoke and Maid in Manhattan) releasing his latest feature length film... free and online. Another success story involved a relatively unknown indie filmmaker who got his film on Hulu (for free), where it became the most watched thing on Hulu for a while. And, of course, Nina Paley famously released Sita Sings the Blues for free online. The idea that no maker of a feature length film would ever use the internet to release it for free is simply untrue.
Unlike Webbies or Ani's, the Academy Award is designed to award excellence in the making of motion pictures that receive a cinematic release, not an online release. Since 2006, we have built theater audiences significantly and created widespread interest in the films themselves and their place in the movie theater. This release of the films on the Internet threatens to destroy 8 years of audience growth and the notion that these film gems are indeed movies--no feature length film would consider a free online release as a marketing tool!
And, in many ways, it seems even dumber to remove these short animated films from the internet. As many people have noted, obscurity is a much bigger threat to most content creators than anything else, and one way to guarantee further obscurity is to make sure your work cannot be found or seen easily. Somehow, I doubt that any of these animated short filmmakers are seeing that much money from whatever limited theatrical release Pilcher is able to give them. And yet, by taking their works offline, they may be missing out on building a much bigger and more loyal fanbase, which can help support future projects (Kickstarter, anyone?). The idea that no real filmmaker would promote their films online is something that comes from the viewpoint of an obsolete industry, not someone who is looking out for today's filmmakers' best interests.
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Jan 23rd 2013 4:29pm
from the CBS-asks-for-more-bullets;-notes-other-foot-'only-lightly-damaged' dept
The Consumerist reports that Dish is taking a well-deserved swing at CBS, this time on its own website where its touts the Hopper being named Best in Show, along with a very noticeable asterisk.
The wording after the asterisk reads:
*What’s an asterisk doing in our award? CBS will go to any lengths to keep you from enjoying ad-skipping technology – even censoring its own writers and throwing out their decision to name Hopper ‘Best In Show.’ Your vote is the only one that really matters.Dish is also doing its part to keep print journalism alive, taking out full page ads in several newspapers.
So, what did CBS gain from freezing its legal foe out of an award? Absolutely nothing.
The broadcaster was reportedly worried that having one of its subsidiaries give an award to a Hopper DVR would possibly hurt its case in court. However, now that it’s been revealed that the device did indeed win the award — even if will never receive the actual accolade — it has only turned into a public relations boost to Dish and the Hopper.If people weren't already aware of the product, they certainly are now. And for many of those, technology that time-shifts AND skips ads is right up their alley. In addition, more people are publicly aware of the legal battle, which seems to boil down to the networks' insistence that customers watch every ad. Bad news all around, and CBS needs look no further than the still-smoking gun in its hand to explain all the brand-new holes in its foot.