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Our Thoughts on Facebook’s WhatsApp + Messenger + Instagram Integration

January 30, 2019 Competition , Data Protection , Platform Regulation , Privacy , security

Last week, the New York Times reported that Facebook has decided to integrate the back-end infrastructures of its three fully-owned messaging products: Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. At Public Knowledge, aware of the different nature, features, and conditions of use of these three services, we are carefully following the possible privacy and security and competition implications of this market-changing move.

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Remember the FCC’s Broadband Privacy Rules? The Motherboard Exposé Takes Us Down Memory Lane

January 11, 2019 Broadband Privacy , CPNI , Data Protection , FCC , Privacy

On Tuesday, Motherboard published an article exposing the jaw-dropping ease of data collection and commercialization practices that can allow a stranger to find a cell phone’s location with just a phone number and $300. Motherboard’s investigation found that telecommunications companies, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, would sell location data with an aggregator, which sold the data to MicroBilt, which then sold it to a Motherboard investigator for “dirt cheap.”

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How Well Do the Current Federal Privacy Proposals Protect Your Privacy?

December 21, 2018 Data Protection , Legislation , Privacy

Ever since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story broke, privacy has been the talk of the town in Washington, DC, and conventional wisdom is that Congress will begin debating comprehensive privacy legislation in earnest in 2019. In preparation, members of Congress are starting to drop their message bills and discussion drafts. Public Knowledge has evaluated each of the proposals so far, and we offer our initial take here.

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A Real Remedy the FTC Should Demand of Facebook

December 20, 2018 Antitrust , Charlotte Slaiman , Data Protection , FTC , Platform Competition , Privacy

It seems almost every week there are new revelations about Facebook’s data use and sharing policies. The Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Facebook for a potential consent decree violation related to the release of user data to Cambridge Analytica. The new allegations of data misuse in the New York Times this week may also be a violation of the consent decree. They are at least worthy of FTC investigation. And the cache of previously sealed litigation documents published by a British Member of Parliament earlier this month seem to indicate that Facebook may have been strategically withholding this valuable data from “strategic competitors” such as upstart Vine. Taken together, the two stories paint a frightening picture. Was Facebook granting access to private user data to cement its market position, offering it up to the powerful and wielding it as a cudgel against potential competitors? At the close of the current investigation, the FTC should demand remedies that protect users’ privacy while encouraging competition on the Facebook platform and against Facebook itself.

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Microsoft Recognizes and Faces the Challenges of Facial Recognition

December 7, 2018 Emerging Technology , Facial Recognition , Microsoft , Privacy , Surveillance

Yesterday, Microsoft released its facial recognition principles, as well as a call for legislation regulating the technology. There’s a lot to like in Microsoft’s release.

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