AT&T Mobility’s Data Throttling Is Deceptive Practice, FTC Claims

AT&T Mobility throttled the data for millions of its customers who signed up for “unlimited” data plans even though the customers were told their use would not be limited, the Federal Trade Commission charged in a lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that in 2010 AT&T ceased offering unlimited mobile data plans to new customers.  Instead, new customers were required to pay different rates for the amount of data used.  For existing customers, AT&T offered to “grandfather” the unlimited data plans.

In July 2011, ...

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NSA Data Sweep Likely Violates Privacy

The NSA’s massive collection of phone data is likely an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment because it violates an individual’s expectation of privacy, a federal judge found.

The ruling granted a request by two plaintiffs to enjoin the government through the National Security Agency from collecting their phone records, including metadata.  However, the judge stayed his order to allow the government to appeal “in light of the significant national security interests at stake.”

The 68-page opinion found that the NSA ...

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No Warrant Needed for Cell Site Geolocational Information

The U.S. government can get historical cell phone records, including geolocational information, from cell phone providers without a warrant, the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled.

The appellate court reversed the trial court, which found that, under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), the government had to seek a warrant and show probable cause before the records could be obtained.  The SCA regulates disclosure of stored electronic communications by service providers.  With regard to non-content records, the SCA requires the government to ...

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No Copyright on Ads, No Copyright Cause of Action

Fox Broadcasting Company can’t maintain a copyright action against Dish Network’s product that enables Dish customers to skip over commercials because Fox doesn’t own the copyright to the commercials, an appellate court found in affirming a trial court ruling.

In addition, the appellate court said, while it is a “much closer” question, the trial court did not err in finding that the commercial-skipping product did not violate the contract between Fox and Dish, which prohibits Dish from offering a “video-on-demand” program.

At ...

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Illinois Commerce Commission Must Consider Public Comments

The Illinois Commerce Commission must consider comments made by ratepayers at public forums and on the Commission’s own website before setting new utility rates.

Lake Wildwood Association and Apple Canyon Lake Property Owners’ Association filed an appeal after the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC or Commission) struck all references in their joint brief to public comments made by their members at Commission-conducted public forums and on the ICC’s website.  The Illinois Attorney General joined in the appeal in support of the Associations.

The ...

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FTC Hits HTC Mobile Devices for Serious Security Flaws

Mobile devices made by HTC America, Inc. contain serious security flaws, which allow the phones to send their own text messages, send personally identifiable information to third parties, and even activate the microphone to listen to conversations, according to a proposed HTC America consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC’s complaint against HTC America noted that HTC’s security flaws potentially expose the user’s sensitive information, making consumers “at risk of financial and physical injury and other harm.”  The FTC said ...

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Mobile Privacy Bill Would Require Disclosure Of Data Collected

Companies would be required to obtain consent from consumers before mobile device monitoring software starts collecting information under a bill introduced in Congress.

Sellers of mobile telephones and providers of mobile service or broadband would need to disclose the following information to consumers prior to activating or collecting information from them under the “Mobile Device Privacy Act.”

  • That monitoring software is installed on their mobile telephone.
  • A description of the types of information that the monitoring software is capable of collecting and ...
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Cell Phone Owners Avoid Apps That Collect Personal Data

Even though about half of all cell phone users download apps, a majority of users have decided not to install a particular app once they discovered how much personal information they would need to share in order to use the app, a new study found.

The study revealed that 54 percent of cell phone app owners decided not to install an app when they learned how much personal information the app collects.  In addition, 30 percent of the owners uninstalled an ...

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No Privacy in Cell Phone Ping Data

There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in data given off by a pay-as-you-go cell phone, the Sixth Circuit found.

At issue in the case was geolocational information obtained by Drug Enforcement Administration officers who continuously “pinged” the pay-as-you-go cell phone of a suspect and his son who were driving from Arizona to Texas.  Once the suspect parked the motorhome for the night, DEA officers used drug-sniffing dogs to indicate that narcotics were inside the vehicle, which enabled the officers ...

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Balough Article on Smart Meter Privacy in Kent Law Review

An article on the privacy implications of smart electric meters by Cheryl Dancey Balough has been published by the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

In the article, Ms. Balough discusses privacy issues that come into play when electriic utilities install smart meters for their customers.  Those issues include who has access to the information, what information is being distributed, and whether current laws adequately protect consumers.

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