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Karl Bode

About Karl Bode

Karl Bode is a Seattle-based freelance reporter focused on tech, telecom, media, politics and consumer rights.


Posted on Techdirt - 11 August 2022 @ 01:02pm

Study Shows Anti-Piracy Ads Often Made People Pirate More

As it turns out, people would download a car.

For decades, Techdirt has highlighted the wide array of incredibly stupid anti-piracy ads the entertainment industry has used to try and steer people away from piracy. Usually these ads were being run at the same time the industry was busy fighting against evolution (providing less expensive, more convenient alternatives piracy) or demonizing new technologies (Home Taping Is Killing Music!).

Would you be shocked to learn that these ads not only didn’t work, they, in some instances, resulted in people pirating content more? That’s the finding of a new paper (hat tip, TorrentFreak and Motherboard) that studied several decades of anti-piracy advertising by the entertainment industry.

The study is filled with advice for industry, such as don’t bother to run anti-piracy ads in the theater (pirates just cut them out), don’t use rich spokespeople to profess poverty from piracy (users won’t buy your claims of financial harm), and don’t throw too many (often ludicrous) claims at a user lest the message get lost in transmission:

“The most striking example might be the (in)famous ‘You would not steal a car’ awareness video aired in cinemas and on DVDs worldwide during the 2000s. It compared downloading a movie to various forms of stealing, including reasonably relevant ones (stealing a DVD in a store) and somewhat absurd others (stealing handbags, TVs, cars), which diluted down the message.”

The paper points to instances where some ads, like an Indian entertainment industry anti-piracy ad featuring wealthy celebrities, can actually have the inverse effect and convince users to pirate even more:

“All videos starred well-known actors, whose net worth is estimated to be $22–$400 million dollars, in a country where the annual per capita income is a bit less than $2,000. This can offer to pirates a moral justification: they only steal the rich to ‘feed the poor’, a form of ‘Robin Hood effect’ that makes even more sense with some cultural or sport-related goods,” the researchers add.

In short, a lot of these ads may make entertainment executives feel like they’re doing something productive in fighting piracy, but in reality the ads were often busy doing something else: either making pirates feel morally justified, making the industry look stupid and out of touch, or turning the message into little more than meme fodder.

Posted on Techdirt - 11 August 2022 @ 05:32am

Consumer Advocates Angry That New Privacy Law Erodes Oversight Of Telecom Monopolies

We noted the other day how our shiny newly proposed federal privacy bill (as written now) includes a massive gift to US telecom monopolies. It effectively strips away huge swaths of FCC authority over telecom giants, shoveling it over to an FTC that often lacks the resources or expertise to police telecom.

Because “big tech” is all that matters and “big telecom” policy is so very unsexy right now, the press literally couldn’t be bothered to cover this small wrinkle, at all. Well, except for Tonya Riley at Cyberscoop, who spoke to numerous consumer groups who have been raising alarm bells for weeks, noting that the privacy law could actually weaken consumer privacy protection as it pertains to telecom:

“The problem with the Federal Trade Commission is it has fewer tools that it can use to enforce the rule and it has a lot more ground to cover,” said Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit public interest group that broadly supports ADPPA. “It’s basically the difference between going to your regular family doctor versus a cancer specialist. Your regular family doctor may be the best family doctor, but he can’t treat your cancer. For that you need to go to a specialist.”

In conversations with numerous consumer advocates and experts in recent weeks, I’ve noticed a weird tension going on both inside and between many consumer groups because of this. Many groups don’t want anything to undermine the nation’s first chance at a real privacy law, so they’re either reticent to mention it at all, or don’t want their employees making too much noise about it.

As a result you’ve got a mish mash of consumer advocates swimming upstream a bit, like Barbara Van Schewick at Stanford, some folks at the EFF, and Harold Feld. Folks who note that this could have a profound impact on FCC authority moving forward, and in the short term could scuttle investigations like the FCC’s recently announced (and painfully late) inquiry into wireless carrier location data:

“If the law is passed, ongoing FCC regulatory actions against industry privacy practices would no longer have legal standing. That includes an investigation launched last month into what data the top 15 mobile providers in the U.S. collect and how they use it after. Companies under investigation include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Google. The FCC requested a response by Aug 3. The agency in 2020 proposed $208 million in fines against several major telecommunications companies for selling customer location information, including to bounty hunters. The fines are still pending.

That alone could net the telecom sector hundreds of millions of dollars, well worth any lobbying bill. Longer term, the windfall for telecom would be incalculable.

Telecom lobbyists, hand in hand with the GOP, have worked tirelessly for years to turn the nation’s top telecom regulator into a lobotomized carbon cutout. One that talks a good game about stuff like the “digital divide” and consumer welfare, but lacks any real authority to hold the nation’s extremely unpopular telecom monopolies (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter) accountable for much of anything.

In the 2000s, the push to “deregulate” defanged much of the FCC’s authority. In 2016, telecom and the GOP managed to kill some modest privacy rules the FCC was considering before they could even go into effect. In 2017, they used corpses and a mountain of bullshit to kill net neutrality, further roll back the FCC’s consumer protection authority, and block even states from protecting broadband consumers.

The goal throughout most of this was to defang the FCC and shift oversight over to the FTC, an agency with more limited authority and less expertise on the nuances of telecom policy. An agency responsible for everything from policing bleach label accuracy to automotive warranty scams. An agency we routinely, painfully underfund and understaff.

It’s not like the FTC has zero understanding of the issues here (see their excellent recent report showcasing how telecom often knows way more about you than even big tech does). But they’re simply not going to do as good of a job as the FCC, and telecom lawyers and lobbyists know it. And with the FCC sidelined, all lobbying resources can be fixated on further undermining the FTC further.

So this is all important stuff, but it seems there’s a very good chance that it all gets kicked into the corner and thrown under a tarp, sacrificed for the sake of having our first federal privacy law. In large part because the policy climate in DC is to hyperventilate myopically about “big tech,” while forgetting that big telecom — which is every bit as bad if not worse on these issues — even exists.

Posted on Techdirt - 10 August 2022 @ 05:47am

Surprise: U.S. Quest To Purge Chinese Gear From Domestic Networks Was A Sloppy Mess

We just got done noting how the patriotic quest to purge all Chinese hardware from U.S. networks was a a bit of an incoherent mess. The U.S. demand to purge all Huawei and ZTE equipment imposed huge costs on many mid- and small sized telecom vendors (read: their customers), and the U.S. now says it somehow lacks the money to help pay for the “rip and replace” effort as originally claimed.

To be clear, Huawei like many telecoms, is an unethical mess. It has been happy to provide IT and telecom support to the Chinese government as it wages genocide against ethnic minorities. It has also been caught helping some African governments spy on the press and political opponents. And it may very well have helped the Chinese government spy on Americans. So yeah, purging the gear isn’t a bad bet.

But, and this is kind of important for transparency’s sake, we’re a decade-plus into this collective freak out and the U.S. still hasn’t released any public information proving any widespread use of Huawei and ZTE gear to spy on Americans. Given how often U.S. company lobbyists use xenophobia and NatSec hyperventilation to scare lawmakers into self-serving proposals, that’s important.

And, as the New York Times recently noted, after years of hysteria on this subject, the U.S. did a shitty job actually making the plan work:

The Federal Communications Commission once estimated the cost of replacing Chinese gear to be about $2 billion. An updated estimate disclosed last month showed it was about $5 billion. It will take time for the F.C.C. and Congress to figure out how to pay the amounts small telecom companies say they need. In the meantime, many such providers haven’t even started replacing Huawei and ZTE equipment, as Politico reported last month.

Huawei competitors get a huge windfall from no longer having to compete with significantly cheaper (albeit often shittier) Chinese network hardware. But what do consumers get? They don’t actually get improved privacy and security, because the telecoms haven’t even really started doing anything yet. But they will get the added costs incurred on U.S. telecoms, which will be passed on to users.

The idea that the FCC (which can’t even map U.S. broadband availability, police monopolization, stop billing fraud, or track how domestic taxpayer subsides are spent) was going to do a coherent job here was always kind of a question mark.

So often, the tech and telecom policy rhetoric about “the Chinese threat” is completely superficial (take a look at the “race to 5G” for another excellent example), and often simply the byproduct of U.S. companies lobbying to prevent having to compete with cheaper Chinese gear. But when you look under the hood at actual execution on the security front, it’s so often just a hot mess:

“One big question is whether this drama could have been avoided. I asked Paul Triolo, senior vice president for China at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategy firm, if the U.S. had a good plan with wobbly execution or if the strategy was misguided to begin with. He said it was a little of both.

Triolo said that the U.S. government could have phased out Huawei and ZTE equipment over many years — similar to Britain’s approach — and fast-tracked removal of some types of Chinese gear or equipment near sensitive locations such as near military facilities. While the U.S. said that it needed to remove the risk of the equipment quickly, all that stuff remains in place anyway, he said.

This is just… what we do. Guys like Trump or the FCC’s Brendan Carr love to use China as a bogeyman to agitate the xenophobic base, but then actual execution to protect network security and consumer privacy winds up being just an absolute joke. An afterthought. These gentlemen aren’t in the actual solution business, they’re in the self-serving fear mongering for political gain business.

There’s just no consistency in any of it. We’ll stage a multi-year freak out about Huawei, but do absolutely nothing about very real telecom vulnerabilities in satellite and wireless networks or the Internet of broken things. Politicians will have a complete embolism about TikTok, yet oppose privacy reform and do absolutely nothing to shore up privacy problems across the entire telecom, adtech, and app ecosystem.

That’s not to say the U.S. does nothing competent to improve cybersecurity, but a significant portion of political China hysteria is often a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And an even larger share is just corruption dressed up as national security concerns. The secrecy needed in NatSec means less transparency. Less transparency is then exploited as cover by lobbyists. It’s a tale as old as time.

As one anonymous Hill staffer told the Washington Post a decade ago, it’s just just corruption-fueled gibberish:

“What happens is you get competitors who are able to gin up lawmakers who are already wound up about China,” said one Hill staffer who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. “What they do is pull the string and see where the top spins.”

Worse, the U.S. long ago eroded the credibility it now needs by doing all of the stuff it accuses the Chinese government of, such as installing covert backdoors in both Cisco and Huawei hardware

So yeah, it’s possible Huawei and XTE gear should be banned from U.S. networks, provided you do it transparently and competently. But so often most of the folks yelling the loudest about this stuff lack both the credibility or competence to actually accomplish anything useful. It’s often just a big, expensive, dumb performance, polluted by corruption and paid for by taxpayers.

Posted on Techdirt - 9 August 2022 @ 05:27am

Two Dozen Texas Cities Latest To Try And Push A Netflix Tax

Hungry to boost municipal budgets, a growing roster of states and cities have spent the last five years or so trying to implement a tax on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services.

Sometimes (like in Chicago) this has involved expanding an existing amusement tax (traditionally covering book stores, music stores, ball games and other brick and mortar entertainment) to online streaming.

Other times this has involved trying to leverage existing cable TV laws or ordinances to try extract their pound of flesh from Netflix. In both, it involves taking rules written for the physical world, and applying them to the internet. Often haphazardly.

That’s what’s been happening in Texas, where nearly a dozen different towns have joined forces to sue Netflix, Disney, and Hulu for failure to pay millions in franchise fees:

The cities are alleging that the streamers should be paying annual franchise fees back to 2007, as they said is required by the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA). Those are the fees that cable/broadband operators provide that go toward city services.

The Texas law allows cable and video providers to deliver cable TV via publicly owned utility poles on public land in exchange for remitting 5% of gross revenue to the municipality. So the argument has generally been because Netflix bits technically travel over those same lines somewhere in the tangle of data flowing over them, they should also be responsible for paying that tax.

Cable TV providers generally have a physical presence in the towns and cities they serve. Employees live in these areas, climb physical city poles in these areas, and do tech support calls in these areas. By contrast, a company like Netflix may have little to no real physical presence in a town (outside of maybe some CDN hardware at an internet exchange point or regional ISP), so demanding they pay a tax under laws designed decades ago for different technologies often proves logically and legally unsound.

Regardless, Texas towns and cities are hopeful the law doesn’t care about all that, and they can just get what they view as a lucrative windfall, grabbing money they don’t really deserve for services they don’t actually have any meaningful authority over.

Posted on Techdirt - 8 August 2022 @ 05:27am

America’s Two Biggest Cable Broadband Monopolies Failed To Add Any New Customers Last Quarter

Roughly 83 million Americans currently live under a broadband monopoly. In most instances, their only choice is Comcast or Charter Communications, which sells service under the “Spectrum” brand. And in both cases, users pay significantly higher prices for spotty, slow, service with statistically terrible customer service, because that’s how monopolization works.

But the nation’s two biggest cable companies are having a rough year so far.

Comcast, for example, has not only lost more than a million traditional pay TV subscribers so far this year, last quarter the company failed to add any new broadband subscribers for the first time in company history. Now Charter has followed suit, not only losing 226,000 pay TV subscribers last quarter, but losing 42,000 broadband customers as well.

Charter blames the end of a $50 a month COVID-relief broadband subsidy program (which didn’t really end, it was just made permanent via the infrastructure bill and renamed):

“During the second quarter, we added 38,000 Internet customers when excluding an unfavorable impact related to the discontinuation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program and additional definitional requirements of the Affordable Connectivity Program,” Charter CEO Thomas Rutledge said in a call with analysts, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

But Charter’s broadband losses likely would have happened earlier if not for the COVID subsidy program, which effectively advertised the company’s service to low-income Americans. And there’s several contributing factors to the shift.

One, companies like Charter and Comcast are starting to see more competition from 5G fixed wireless, and low-orbit satellite services. Though folks shouldn’t make too much of said competition; Starlink for example has a maximum total capacity of 800,000 or so total global users, and will hardly put much of a dent in the 83 million monopoly total. And while fixed 5G will grow, wireless, in general, still comes with network limits not seen on superior broadband options like fiber.

But the primary reason for the slowdown is the broadband market is simply becoming saturated. Cable giants aren’t really willing to expand broadband into higher ROI rural and urban areas, and everybody already has access in the markets they serve. As a result, these companies just aren’t seeing the same kind of growth they’re used to.

Both Charter and Comcast are hopeful that some of this can be remedied by the historic infusion of more than $50 billion in broadband subsidies now arriving courtesy of COVID relief and the new infrastructure bill (which, ironically, they lobbied against). That money is being distributed by the FCC and NTIA to the states, which then have to develop systems determining how the money is spent.

As a result, lobbyists for both companies are working overtime convincing numerous states to pass laws literally banning some of this funding from going to any competitors. At the same time, they’re also trying to challenge community broadband and local competitor grant applications, using flawed FCC data to falsely claim they already provide service to these targeted areas.

In short, these monopolies are hopeful that any future growth comes from elbowing out others at an historic trough of new subsidies. And given the level of state and federal corruption in terms of telecom policy here in the States, I have little doubt they’ll be fairly successful at it. But here too there’s a limit; somewhere between 20 and 40 million Americans remained unserved.

As the growth opportunities tighten, these monopolies will do what they’ve always done: turn toward pleasing Wall Street by nickel-and-diming the subscribers they already have, while simultaneously fighting tooth and nail to crush any new competitors that might threaten their dominance in any real way.

Posted on Techdirt - 5 August 2022 @ 11:59am

Dish Wireless Ambitions, And The Trump Era ‘Fix’ For T-Mobile Merger, Look Shakier Than Ever

A few years back, the Trump DOJ and FCC rubber-stamped the Sprint T-Mobile merger without heeding expert warnings that it would stifle competition, kill jobs and eventually raise rates. Working closely with T-Mobile and Dish, the FCC and DOJ “antitrust enforcers” unveiled what they claimed was a “fix” for these problems: they’d cobble together a fourth major replacement wireless carrier in Dish Network.

As we noted a few times, the proposal was never likely to succeed. One, because Dish had no track record in this space outside of a parade of empty promises. Two, because the remaining three providers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) and Wall Street want less price competition and would be incentivized at every step to ensure it fails. And three, because the FCC sucks at holding big companies accountable.

So far, things are going just about as well as you’d expect. T-Mobile has already laid off 5,000 employees, wireless industry nickel-and-diming efforts have slowly been creeping skyward, and the Dish network plan has seen repeated delays thanks in part to squabbling between T-Mobile and Dish. And while Dish’s 5G network has “launched” in limited portions of some cities, it only supports one terrible phone, and actually signing up for it is a bit of a joke.

Dish’s latest earnings report is particularly ugly, with the company losing another 257,000 net satellite TV subscribers. It also lost 55,000 Sling TV subscribers, the streaming service those users were supposed to be shifting to. And it lost 210,000 retail wireless customers, the segment it’s supposed to be pivoting into. And its revenues dropped 6% year over year. But things are looking up, Dish executives insisted:

Dish is led by president and CEO W. Erik Carlson and chairman Charlie Ergen. “We had higher than expected customer attrition following the football season, but the bottom line is we simply didn’t execute to the level we expected,” Carlson had said on the first-quarter earnings conference call, but vowed: “Our best days are certainly ahead of us.”

Indeed. Meanwhile, Wall Street stock jocks like Craig Moffett issued investor research notes making it clear that Dish isn’t actually spending the kind of money you’d need to be spending if they were actually serious about building a massive, nationwide wireless network:

We have come to this sorry pass because of Dish’s bewildering reticence in raising the money they so obviously need to fund their fledgling wireless business. For the second straight quarter, Dish’s total free cash flow was negative in Q2, notwithstanding a deceleration in spending on their network build (something we’d begun to hear from industry participants as well, as Dish perhaps understandably pulls back on their buildout pace to preserve cash while they sort out the financing question).

Now, I don’t get paid millions of dollars annually to predict industry trends, but it was always clear to me that the whole Dish Network plan was likely a head fake that served two functions. One, it gave Trump-era regulators cover for signing off on mindless consolidation. Two, it served as an elaborate, expensive way for Dish CEO Charlie Ergen to buy time for his massive spectrum holdings to appreciate before cashing out.

Dish is supposed to adhere to FCC build out guidelines on this network, but the agency is so utterly feckless, I’d wager any regulatory financial penalty, assuming one arrives at all, would be a tiny fraction of the money made from selling the spectrum. And Wall Street and the three major players don’t want this effort to succeed, they want reduced price competition and consolidation.

Within five years I could easily see Ergen riding off into retirement on billions made from offloading spectrum and whatever network has been built to Verizon, the FCC doing absolutely jack shit about it, and all of the Trump-era folks who justified this turd of a deal either pretending it never happened, or pretending it was an unavoidable casualty of COVID or inflation. Nice work if you can get it.

Posted on Techdirt - 5 August 2022 @ 05:26am

[RETRACTED] Comcast Using Civil Rights As Cover To Scuttle Appointment Of Gigi Sohn To FCC

This article has been retracted due to a significant, highly regrettable error. I misidentifying the author of a press release calling for the Biden administration to withdraw the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC.

The original story incorrectly conflated the author of the piece, Rosa Mendoza, CEO of a nonprofit named ALLVanza, with Rosa Mendoza, an executive at a Comcast-linked public relations firm.

I apologize for the error. I failed to live up to my own standards of professionalism and rudimentary fact checking.

Editor’s Note:  In addition to Karl’s apology above, I would separately like to apologize for this mistake. As an organization, we pride ourselves on getting things right down to the finest details, and we failed spectacularly here. We failed to live up to our long held standards and beliefs regarding carefully vetting the information we publish, and will revisit our policies and processes for reviewing articles, and seek to avoid such errors going forward. — Mike Masnick

Posted on Techdirt - 4 August 2022 @ 01:32pm

Google Fiber’s 2016 Expansion Freeze May Be Coming To An End

When Google Fiber launched back in 2010, it was heralded as a game changer for the broadband industry. Google Fiber, we were told, would revolutionize the industry by taking Silicon Valley money and disrupting the viciously uncompetitive and anti-competitive telecom sector.

Initially, things worked out well; cities tripped over themselves offering all manner of perks to the company in the hopes of breaking free from the broadband duopoly logjam. Google got endless free press for doing something truly disruptive. And in markets where Google Fiber was deployed, prices dropped thanks to this added competition (fancy that!).

The fun didn’t last.

In late 2016, a new era of Alphabet execs began getting cold feet about the high costs and slow returns of the project, and effectively mothballed the entire thing — without admitting that’s what they were doing. The company blew through several CEOs in just a few months, laid off hundreds of employees, froze any real expansion, and cancelled countless installations for users who had been waiting years.

And while Google made a lot of noise about how it would be shifting from fiber to wireless to possibly cut costs, those promises also remained stuck in neutral.

But there are some faint indications that the Google Fiber freeze might be thawing somewhat. Last year, Google announced it had started working with officials in West Des Moines, Iowa on a potential expansion into the city. More recently, the company indicated it was expanding into Mesa, Arizona. And it’s also pushing harder into select portions of Utah:

“We’ve expanded to a bunch of new cities around our Utah footprint. We’ve also expanded to Smyrna, for example, around Tennessee, within our Nashville footprint,” Strama told Government Technology. “We’ll continue to be expanding around our existing footprint for the long term.”

To be clear, many of these efforts remain somewhat… modest, and it’s clear Google Fiber’s overall ambitions have scaled back. In a country where 83 million live under a broadband monopoly, and somewhere between 20-40 Americans lack any broadband at all (see our recent report on this), some scattered deployments in limited portions of mid-tier cities can only go so far.

Still, it’s good to see Google trying all the same. For a while there after the freeze, it seemed entirely possible the company could pack it in and sell the network (much like it sold out its principles on concepts like net neutrality). And while Google Fiber (much like Google) isn’t the same disruptive force it was in 2010, when it comes to mediocre U.S. broadband, every last bit helps.

Posted on Techdirt - 4 August 2022 @ 04:32am

Tech Giants Urge FCC To Raise Pathetic U.S. Definition Of ‘Broadband’ To 1 Gigabit

INCOMPAS, the DC trade policy and lobbying group primarily steered by tech giants, is urging the FCC to finally boost the U.S.’ pathetic definition of broadband. The FCC’s current definition of broadband, 25 Mbps down, 3 Mbps up, is looking a bit pathetic, particularly on the upstream side. And the lower standard helps the uncompetitive telecom sector obscure its failure to broadly deliver next-gen speeds.

“Since 2017, we have urged the FCC to increase internet speed benchmarks to 1 Gigabit – it’s a faster standard that consumers want and the market can easily deliver,” INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering said. “Other nations including China and Europe have gigabit goals in place, and it’s time for the FCC to deliver faster speeds or risk slowing down our economy.” 

Originally defined as anything over 200 kbps in either direction, the definition was updated in 2010 to a pathetic 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up. It was updated again in 2015 by the FCC to a better, but still arguably pathetic 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream.

As we noted then, the broadband industry whined incessantly about having any higher standards, as it would only further highlight industry failure, the harm of monopolization, and a lack of competition. In fact, telecom giants have consistently lobbied against any new effort to raise the standard.

Recently, FCC boss Jessica Rosenworcel announced she supports a new definition of 100 Mbps downstream, 25 Mbps upstream. The problem: because the telecom lobby successfully blocked the confirmation vote of Gigi Sohn to the FCC (something Rosenworcel hasn’t said much about), the agency lacks the voting majority needed to implement this or any other reform opposed by telecom giants.

Both INCOMPAS and Rosenworcel know this.

“We have the ability and responsibility as Americans to go big and bold on broadband,” the letter said. “We are looking to the Commission’s leadership to establish a new broadband speed goal that enables all Americans to access high-speed internet no matter where they live or work. It is time to set that goal to 1 Gigabit.”

Posted on Techdirt - 3 August 2022 @ 01:37pm

Tim Hortons Doles Out Some Coffee Pocket Change In Response To Location Data Scandal

We’ve noted for years how U.S. consumer location data is routinely abused by a long list of bad actors, including wireless carriers, broadband providers, app makers, adtech companies, data brokers, police, people pretending to be police, governments, and more.

It’s also, not too surprisingly, a problem in Canada.

Restaurant chain Tim Hortons was recently found to have been collecting “vast amounts of sensitive location data” in violation of Canadian privacy laws. More specifically, one report found the app tracked a user’s location over 2,700 times in less than half a year any time they left home, visited a competitors, or hit a local sports venue, and the restaurant chain mislead users into thinking the tracking would only occur when the app was in use.

Worry not though, as part of a new settlement with the company, it says it will be giving impacted customers enough money for a “hot beverage and a free baked good” with a total retail value of $8.58:

As is usually the case, the payout (accompanied with no formal admission of fault) is likely a tiny fraction of the money gleaned off of collecting user location data and then sending it to any nitwit with a nickel. Here in the States, the overturning of Roe has finally resulted in folks taking concern about the potential abuse of this data more seriously, although meaningful reform still remains difficult to come by.

More posts from Karl Bode >>