Facebook tracking - no choice for users
Thu 2 Oct 2014, 23:00

Facebook expanded its ever-growing advertising and tracking reach this week with new integration between the giant social network and Atlas, an advertising platform it purchased from Microsoft. The company now lets advertisers target you across all of your devices and on participating websites, based on characteristics from your Facebook profile such as age, gender, and location. It will also attempt to track the products you buy both online and off, in order to measure the ads' effects on our purchases.

FTC: Online billing service deceptively collected medical records
Wed 3 Dec 2014, 22:20

An online service allowing consumers to pay their medical bills failed to adequately inform them that it would also try to collect highly detailed medical information from their pharmacies, medical labs and insurance companies, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said.

The FTC has reached a proposed settlement with PaymentsMD, an Atlanta health billing company, and former CEO Michael Hughes requiring the company to destroy any medical information it collected related to its separate online medical records service, Patient Health Report, the agency said Wednesday.

PaymentsMD “deceptively” used the sign-up process for its billing service to seek customers’ consent to obtain detailed medical information, the FTC said in a press release.

US government healthcare website passes personal data to outside firms
Tue 20 Jan 2015, 21:00

The government’s health insurance website is quietly passing along consumers’ personal data to outside websites. The privacy concerns come against the backdrop Obama’s new initiative to protect personal data online.

In a recent visit to the site, AP found that certain personal details – including age, income and whether you smoke – were being passed along probably without your knowledge to advertising and web analytics sites.

Third-party outfits that track website performance are a standard part of e-commerce. HealthCare.gov’s privacy policy says in boldface that “no personally identifiable information is collected” by these web measurement tools.

With new policy changes, Facebook tracks users across the web
Wed 4 Feb 2015, 23:20

Over the objections of consumer privacy organizations, Facebook has implemented policy changes that allow the company to track users across the web without consent. The Dutch data protection commissioner launched an investigation after the original announcement. This week the a German privacy agency announced a similar investigation. Last year, EPIC and a coalition of consumer privacy groups urged the FTC to halt Facebook's plan to collect web-browsing information from its users. Facebook is already under a 20 year consent decree for changing users' privacy settings. The consent decree resulted from complaints brought by EPIC and others in 2009 and 2010.

Lawmakers call for investigation of Verizon supercookies
Fri 6 Feb 2015, 20:40

Government agencies should investigate whether Verizon Wireless’ use of so-called supercookies to track the online activities of its subscribers amount to privacy violations, three U.S. senators said Friday.

Verizon’s use of the respawning, hard-to-defeat cookies on its mobile subscribers’ phones raises serious privacy problems, said the senators, all Democrats. Senators are considering new legislation to rein in the use of hard-to-delete cookies, said Senator Bill Nelson of Florida.

News reports last year also identified AT&T as using supercookies, but the company later dropped the activity.

Access delivers petition to U.S. agencies to investigate use of zombie cookies by mobile carriers
Thu 19 Feb 2015, 01:00

Today, Access delivered a petition signed by 3,000 users to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the use of so-called “zombie cookies” by mobile carriers to track their customers’ web traffic. Access also delivered a similar petition to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because both agencies arguably have the authority to investigate these harmful practices.