Entries with tag federal trade commission.

US Agency: Search Engines Must Clearly Label Ads

The US Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to search engines that they need to clearly mark all results that are advertisements. The FTC issued letters 24 June 2013 to firms including AOL, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Google, and Yahoo—plus companies offering specialized search in areas such as local businesses, travel, and shopping—stating that they need to clearly distinguish between paid advertising and routine search results. The agency said paid search results have become increasingly less distinguishable as advertising. Search engine companies, particularly Google, have recently faced similar complaints from European government agencies. The FTC can levy fines for noncompliance with regulations regarding deceptive advertisements. (Reuters @ The San Jose Mercury-News)(CNET)(United States Federal Trade Commission)
 

US Announces Robocall Challenge Winners

The US Federal Trade Commission announced the winners of its Robocall Challenge, designed to find ways to stop the growing number of automated, unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls to consumers. The FTC awarded prizes for a solution that an individual or small group proposed and prizes for one that groups of 10 or more developed. Serdar Danis, a computer engineer, and freelance software developer Aaron Foss shared the $50,000 individual prize. Google engineers received the large-group prize, which did not include a monetary award. All these solutions use a whitelist/blacklist approach to filter unwanted calls. Both of the individual proposals use a CAPTCHA test to block robocalls. Danis’ approach is reportedly software based, while Foss’ is cloud-based. The Google approach relies on a crowdsourced list of offenders. The agency said its challenge, launched in October 2012, is a part of its “ongoing campaign against illegal, prerecorded telemarketing calls.” The winners were chosen from almost 800 submissions. (Forbes)(Ars Technica)(United States Federal Trade Commission)

US Freezes Tech-Support Scammers’ Assets


US Federal Trade Commission officials say a federal judge has issued restraining orders and has frozen the assets of 14 companies and additional individuals accused of committing six long-running technical-support scams. They allegedly posed as tech-support workers from Microsoft, Symantec, and other major firms; cold-called people or spoke with individuals responding to online advertisements; and said their Windows-based computers were infected with malware. The FTC say they then offered to help for a fee of between $49 and $450. In addition to taking the money, the suspects also allegedly may have stolen passwords and committed identify fraud. The FTC says most of the firms involved operate from India and targeted consumers in Australia, Canada, the UK, the US, and other English-speaking countries. The commission froze $180,000 of the companies’ assets and hopes to give the money to the victims. The FTC is cooperating with Indian law-enforcement officials on the matter. Microsoft reportedly assisted in the investigation. (Computerworld)(eWeek)

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