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Text Message Spammers – The FTC is Coming For You

giftcardText messages are one of the most annoying forms of advertising I’ve ever encountered. There are probably a few people reading this post right now who know how to do it properly, but you’re in the minority.

Text spam is on the rise. 2.2 billion message in 2009,  4.5 billion in 2011 and experts say we’re in the middle of a boom that will top that.

Text message spam isn’t just annoying. It can cost you money and it can compromise your identity if you follow through.

The FTC is ready to crack down on text spammers, starting with those horrendous “Free Gift Card” offers.

EU Plays Hardball with Microsoft, $751M Fine for Browser Infractions

microsoft_logo_2012If you are Google you are taking a hard look at how the European Union just treated Microsoft when it deemed that the software company had crossed the line in their efforts to make their browser, Internet Explorer, the ‘go to’ browser for users in EU countries.

Reuters reports

The European Union fined Microsoft Corp 561 million euros on Wednesday for failing to offer consumers a choice of web browser, a charge that will act as a warning to other technology firms involved in antitrust disputes with the EU.

It said the U.S. company had broken a legally binding commitment made in 2009 to ensure consumers had a choice of browser, rather than defaulting to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The Copyright Alert System: Six Strikes and You’re Slowed Down

copyright alertThe movie, TV and music industries have a brand new weapon in the fight against digital piracy. It’s called The Copyright Alert System and it’s online now, ready to come down on anyone caught sharing illegally.

Here’s how it works. A studio or artist finds their product on a file sharing server. They notify the Internet Service Provider (ISP) who serves the uploader and the ISP then sends out a warning notice.

The new CAS let’s you have six strikes before you’re out. Then, your service provider (for example, your cable company) can take action by slowing down your internet speed or forcing you to a landing page that requires a chat to remove.

ArsTechnica posted examples of the warning letters as well as their concerns about the process.

Google Gets Big Court Win on Advertising Down Under

GavelIs Google a publisher or simply a relayer of information? That’s an important question from a legal standpoint. Google’s enemies / competitors want to go after Google no matter which position is taken.

Based on a decision coming from Australia though, they may have a tougher time than they might like if courts in other parts of the world follow suit.

Reuters reports

Google Inc won a landmark court case on Wednesday when Australia’s High Court ruled that it had not engaged in misleading behavior with its sponsored links and that it was not responsible for messages conveyed by paid advertisers.

The ruling helps Internet providers and search engines argue that they are not publishers, but simply carriers of information provided by third parties.

FTC Leadership Change Coming. Should Google Be Worried?

google-logoIt was announced late yesterday that the current head of the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is stepping down in the middle of February.

Adweek reports

Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Leibowitz will step down from the agency in mid-February after eight years in the position.

Many in Washington anticipated his move, announced late Thursday in a number of leading national newspapers, since last year.

But first, Leibowitz had a few things on his “to do” list that he wanted to finish, including closing the agency’s two-year antitrust investigation into Google and passing updated rules to the children’s privacy laws. On Friday, the FTC is expected to release a staff report on mobile privacy and related enforcement action.

Google Won and Microsoft Is Not Happy. Oh Well.

Google WinsGoogle got a big win yesterday when the FTC gave them what amounted to the equivalent of saying that they MIGHT slap them on the wrist regarding Google’s business practices. Google and antitrust, as far as the federal government is concerned for now, is a non-issue.

As Cynthia Boris reported yesterday, both sides can, and did, come away from this claiming a victory. That’s to be expected. Google really did win and the government has to say it won.

On the other hand, this is likely to not be the end of attacks on Google’s business practices. Here is a post on the ‘Microsoft on the Issues‘ blog by Dave Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft, who is one of the major players in the Fair Search initiative.

Both Sides Claim a Victory in the FTC Case Against Google

googleThe 19-month, FTC investigation into Google’s policies and practices has come to an end and both parties are declaring themselves the winner.

Here’s the announcement from the Official Google Blog:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it has closed its investigation into Google after an exhaustive 19-month review that covered millions of pages of documents and involved many hours of testimony. The conclusion is clear: Google’s services are good for users and good for competition.

Here’s the FTC’s version:

Google Inc. has agreed to change some of its business practices to resolve Federal Trade Commission concerns that those practices could stifle competition in the markets for popular devices . . . as well as the market for online search advertising.