Tag Archives: FTC

Musical.ly Fined $5.7 Million for Collecting Personal Information from Children



The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the operators of the video social networking app Musical.ly (now known as TikTok) have agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal information form children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case.

The FTC’s complaint (which filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC), alleged that Musical.ly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.

User accounts were public by default, which means a child’s profile bio, username, picture and videos could be seen by other users. Changing the setting to private did not make the profile private. Users could still send direct messages to private Musical.ly accounts.The complaint noted that there had been public reports of adults trying to contact users via the Musical.ly app.

The FTC complaint said that operators of the Musical.ly app were aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts.

TikTok posted information on its newsroom about how they will work with the FTC in conjunction with the agreement. TikTok will split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps. The environment for younger users will not permit the sharing of personal information. It also places limits on content and user interactions.

There are two things can be learned from this situation. One is that companies that have apps or websites that collect user’s personal information really need to take steps to ensure that the data from children is kept private. Failing to do so could result in a huge fine.

The other lesson is that parents should not assume that an app will protect their child’s data – or keep their child’s profile private. Take the time to see what the app collects, and how protective their privacy settings are before allowing your child to use it.


FTC Announces Winners of Robocall Challenge



bigstock-robot-group-26063990Nobody likes robocallers, including the Federal Trade Commission. Last year, in October, the FTC launched the Robocall Challenge. The purpose was to have innovators create solutions that would block illegal robocalls.

The winners have now been announced. Nomorobo won for “Best Overall Solution”. Say the name Nomorobo out loud, and it sounds a lot like “no more robo”. It was created by Aaron Foss, who is a software developer.

There is a video on the Nomorobo website that explains how it works. It has been designed to work with existing technologies and will block illegal robocalls. It is a cloud based solution that does not require normal callers to have to enter PIN’s or CAPTCHAs.

There is another winner for “Best Overall Solution”. It has a long name: Robocall Filtering System and Device with Autonomous Blacklisting, Whitelisting, GrayListing and Caller ID spoof detection. It was created by Serdar Danis, who is a computer engineer. The two winners of “Best Overall Solution” will split the $50,000 prize.

The FTC also selected a Federal Trade Commission Technology Achievement Award winner. The winner was a solution called: Crowd-sourced Call Identification and Suppression. It was created by Daniel Klein and Dean Jackson. They are both Google engineers. There is no monetary prize for this award.

Image Stock Photo Robot Group by BigStock


GNC-2011-12-22 #731 Happy Holidays



I talk about the GoDaddy SOPA controversy in detail. I have a lot of fun on today’s show, and for those watching the video of the show I try out some new camera angles. We still need to raise about $2500.00 to meet our fund raising goals for our Support Staff. I hope you will help us out see the links at the bottom of the page.

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GNC-2011-12-15 #729 Task Saturation @ 195%



Things have been busy here in a good way. I have been pulling some 19 hour days. Hopefully by Sunday things are going to cool off just a bit and I can enjoy the holidays. I hope you will stay tuned in through the Christmas break as I will be cranking out shows throughout the holiday period. We introduce a new sponsor to the show tonight details below… I talk about GoDaddy.com coming on board as out CES 2012 Official Media Sponsor and the Special Offer!

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GNC #695 Free Speech Watch



Thank you for your amazing support of the show. At 695 Episodes they are as exciting for me to do as the day I recorded the first one. Do you have a prize you would like to donate for show #700. Several companies have already stepped up and we are going to have a huge giveaway pool of gadgets and gear.. Speaking of Gear make sure you check out the latest episodes of The Gadget Professor and Robot Underpants!

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GNC-2010-09-10 #609 Morning Tech Show to Launch!



The Morning Tech Show launches on Saturday with guest Rob Greenlee, Podcast Director at Zune & Andy McCaskey of SDR News. We will start at 9am Pacific, 12pm Eastern for a variety of topics, some surrounding tech and other topics of interest. Join me here at GeekNewsCentral.com We will have a variety of guest on week to week.

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Will You Leave Facebook If Privacy Issues Don’t Change?



Facebook Logo
Facebook Logo

I went searching for a buddy on my Facebook profile. It wasn’t there. I searched and searched, but couldn’t find him. I caught him on Twitter and asked where he went. He told me that he deleted his Facebook profile due to all the privacy issues. I was not surprised – With all the issues that Facebook has seen in the last couple months, I could see why he did.

He was not alone. I have heard of a few social mediates also reducing their usage, if not nixing their Facebook profile. I definitely think about what I post on my wall and send in my message area. I delete those that post a game or other application on my wall and I don’t post anything that can be considered “Private” – Basically, try to keep the profile as clean as possible.

Recent privacy issues with Facebook make one realize that your online data could be open to users within a heartbeat. We hear about someone finding a vulnerability, usually after the problem was fixed. Too many in a small amount of time, and we have a crisis where the FTC might have to step in.

No different than in years past…

Whether it’s Facebook, MySpace, email, websites or whatever, people try to get in and people test the limits. I just put up a Wiki site. I put on certain privacies, but within a week, someone found a new way to get through. They posted jibberish sites – nothing that would be malware, which I could easily correct. I fixed the hole and moved on.

Facebook is the site that is under fire because everyone has a profile. At least over 400 million users. In comparison, the US population is at 307 million, over 6 Billion around the world. Heck, my mom is on Facebook.

These are people that might not be tech Savvy. They don’t understand how the site works and they don’t care. They just want to connect with friends and family. They may have heard the rambling about privacy and some may have taken heed, but most haven’t and are not upset with them right now – until their profile is infiltrated.

MySpace, AOL, GeoCities

Remember when we were all on MySpace? Remember when you switched to Facebook? Did you delete your MySpace profile, or do you still check it randomly?

Back in 2007, when MySpace was king, we had different types of privacy issues. The big issue was online predators. Sex offenders on the social network site set one raid to remove over 350 profiles from MySpace.

AOL had many privacy issues in the early years. 1998, we heard of how people found back doors to the “Walled Garden”. GeoCities was under fire for selling personal information. They settled with the FTC just days before they set their first IPO. Business before privacy?

Twitter, Friendfeed, MSN, Compuserve, BBS – These all have had privacy issues at one time. As a site grows, the bad guys realize it can become a great portal to try and take down or get someone’s money. They strike, the site counter-strikes – The battle continues. Rinse and repeat.

Step in the FTC

Privacy issues have escallated to the point where Facebook hired former Bush regulator Tim Muris to defend the social network and it’s privacy problems to the FTC. Of course, if you have a product that is 400 million strong, you definitely will have scrutiny. Regulation is there to protect. Whether the government should step in for regulation might be a whole other topic. Add in the fact that some of those Facebook profiles are non- US citizens; The rules get different.

So is it different, or just the same old?

Privacy is a big issue on the Internet. Whether it’s getting your email hacked or finding a back door on a social network. We don’t want our personal information in the wrong hands. But we also want to connect to the people we care about. In all reality, Facebook is working on their issues. If you leave Facebook for privacy, you might want to just leave the Internet altogether.

So when is too much? Are you thinking of or have you deleted your Facebook profile?