It is no secret that Microsoft is on a warpath. The company has garnered Android patent licensing deals from major industry tech players like HTC, Samsung and ViewSonic, just to name a few, and has chosen to sue those that resist, such as Barnes & Noble. The book seller, which recently announced its second Android tablet, has sent a letter to the Justice Department’s chief counsel for competition policy Gene Kimmelman that calls on the U.S. government to probe Microsoft over monopoly concerns. “Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” Barnes & Noble said in the letter. “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.” Read on for more. More →
The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and seven other privacy groups have contacted the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate Facebook for “secretly tracking users after they logged off of Facebook’s webpage.” A 34-page complaint filed by EPIC asks for an injunction, investigation and “other relief” from the social network. EPIC said Facebook is home to more than 60 billion photographs and alleges it developed its “tag suggestions” feature to collect data on Facebook users “without knowledge of consent in order to develop facial recognition technology.” The complaint specifically states:
Given these extraordinary circumstances, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, The Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Watchdog, and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, urge the Commission to investigate Facebook, determine the extent of the harm to consumer privacy and safety, require Facebook to cease collection and use of users’ biometric data without their affirmative opt-in consent, require Facebook to give users meaningful control over their personal information, establish appropriate security safeguards, limit the disclosure of user information to third parties, and seek appropriate injunctive and compensatory relief.
EPIC’s letter also details how the social network violates its own terms of service and shows how hard it is for a user who has been tagged in a photo to delete the original image which, in most cases, is owned by somebody else. EPIC wants Facebook to create a detailed privacy program and to immediately suspend its face-tagging feature. More →
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Motorola Solutions on suspicion of bribery, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Motorola Solutions, not to be confused with Motorola Mobility, reportedly paid bribes to foreign officials, including Austrian count Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, in an attempt to increase business in Europe. If the allegations are true, Motorola Solutions will have been in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will likely be required to pay a fine. The company opened up its own investigation in 2009 after a “suspicious transaction” was made in Turkey and has since asked the U.S. government to aid in the investigation, The Wall Street Journal said, noting that the company is providing federal investigators with internal documents “voluntarily.” Mensdorff-Pouilly was charged with bribery in 2010 after the U.S. government looked into allegations that BAE Systems was also paying off foreign officials in return for business.
Expedia, Nextag and Yelp are in Washington, D.C. to participate in a Senate judiciary antitrust subcommittee hearing about whether or not Google has acted anti-competitively in the market. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman is one of the executives who has been asked to provide testimony during the hearing and he has posted his written testimony on Yelp’s website. “Google is no longer in the business of sending people to the best sources of information on the web,” Stoppelman said. “It now hopes to be a destination site itself for one vertical market after another, including news, shopping, travel and now, local business reviews. It would be one thing if these efforts were conducted on a level playing field, but the reality is they are not.” Read on for more. More →
This whole lost iPhone 5 prototype story just got whole lot more interesting. According to SF Weekly, six investigators claiming to be members of the San Francisco police department descended upon one Bernal Heights, San Francisco man’s home in search of a lost iPhone 5 prototype that CNET originally reported had been left in a bar. The scary part? The SFPD confirmed the investigators weren’t police officers at all. Instead, it appears as though they may have actually been members of Apple’s security team allegedly impersonating police officers. Read on for more.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has agreed to work with London authorities as they begin their investigation into recent riots. According to some Londoners, rioters were using RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger service, along with social networks such as Twitter, to organize the attacks. “It is clear that technology is being used, including in demonstrations, to direct people and undermine the police,” London’s deputy assistant commissioner Stephen Kavanagh told Bloomberg. “It is not for us to to moan about this, but to adapt policing style and deal with it.” RIM typically prides itself on the security of its BBM service and has denied access to governments worried the chat platform could be used for planning terrorist attacks. “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London,” RIM wrote in a recent tweet. “We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.” Read on for more. More →
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday said it would investigate a second patent complaint Apple filed recently against HTC. The complaint seeks to ban the importation and sale of multiple HTC devices that Apple alleges are infringing on its intellectual property. Three companies will be targeted in the Commission’s investigation — HTC Corp., HTC America, Inc. and Exedea, Inc. — and a target date for the completion of the investigation will be set within 45 days. The ITC ruled in a separate case last month that HTC infringes on two Apple patents, and HTC said it would appeal the judgement. Apple executives reportedly claimed recently that they are willing to settle various patent disputes, but the company continues to pursue numerous complaints against HTC, Samsung and others. The ITC’s full press release follows below. More →
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday announced that it will launch an investigation into whether or not multiple Samsung products infringe on Apple patents. “The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain electronic digital media devices and components thereof,” the Commission said in a statement. “The products at issue in this investigation include mobile phone handsets and tablet computers, in addition to components such as software, touchpads, and hardware interfaces.” Apple has filed multiple complaints with the ITC, U.S. courts and international agencies claiming that several Samsung devices are “copycat” products that infringe on Apple patents and copy its designs. Samsung struck back in nearly every case, though the South Korea-based manufacturer did agree not to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia for the time being following a patent complaint filed there by Apple. Apple is also currently at war with several other vendors over patents, including HTC. The ITC’s full news release follows below. More →
Google’s chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Reuters reported on Monday. On June 24th, Google announced that the Federal Trade Commission would be reviewing its business practices. The search giant said it was “still unclear” as to what the FTC’s concerns were but that it would cooperate fully with the investigation. Watchdog groups such as Fairsearch.org have repeatedly accused Google of eangaging in anti-competitive behavior. “I look forward to discussing a number of important issues relating to Google and Internet search competition,” Senator Mike Lee, the lead Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s anti-trust subcommittee said. More →
Google officially announced on Friday that it received word on Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission will begin reviewing its business. Google said that “it’s still unclear what the FTC’s concerns are,” but early reports have suggested the complaints involve the Internet giant’s search and online advertising businesses. Google said that it will continue to follow its five pillars: “do what’s best for the user,” “provide the most relevant answers as quickly as possible,” “label advertisements clearly,” “be transparent,” and “loyalty, not lock-in.” “These are the principles that guide us, and we know they’ll stand up to scrutiny. We’re committed to giving you choices, ensuring that businesses can grow and create jobs, and, ultimately, fostering an Internet that benefits us all,” Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, wrote on the company blog Friday. There are, however, some groups that are concerned Google is becoming a monopoly. Read on for more background. More →
The Federal Communications Commission may subpoena Google during the next five days as part of an anti-trust investigation related to the company’s search and web advertising practices. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is only illegal to purchase or abuse a monopoly, and so a subpoena and an investigation aren’t particularly damning to Google. Reportedly, investigators will examine if the search giant has purposely pushed users towards using its own services, as opposed to those offered by its rivals, using its own online advertising and search network. “Google engages in anticompetitive behavior…that harms consumers by restricting the ability of other companies to compete to put the best products and services in front of Internet users, who should be allowed to pick winners and losers online, not Google,” Fairsearch.org said. The watchdog group is representing a number of Google competitors Expedia, Kayak, Sabre Holdings, and Microsoft. Google faced a similar threat from the Justice Department in April when it proposed buying ITA software, but it settled by allowing the government body to examine some of its practices. The WSJ said a subpoena and an investigation could take a year to wrap-up, and it’s entirely possible nothing will change. More →
Here at BGR, we’re constantly amazed at how long people are willing to wait in line on launch day for new Apple products. As it turns out, some people are willing to go even further for their iFix… a lot further. A 17-year-old Chinese boy living in the Anhui province in China sold his kidney for 22,000 yuan, or about $3,400, just so he could purchase an iPad 2. “I wanted to buy an iPad 2 but could not afford it,” the unnamed boy told Shanghai Daily. “A broker contacted me on the Internet and said he could help me sell one kidney for 20,000 yuan.” The child and broker arranged the procedure without his parents knowing, and he underwent surgery at a Chenzhou hospital. When his parents found out, they notified the police immediately but they have been unable to locate the broker, according to the report. What’s more, the hospital at which the surgery took place was not qualified to perform the procedure, but the administration claims it was not aware of what was happening because the department that performed the surgery was contracted to a Fujian businessman. The child now says he regrets his decision. More →
Atlanta, Georgia based law firm Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC announced on Monday that it has launched an investigation into possible federal securities law violations made by cell phone maker Research In Motion. The firm claims that its investigation will focus on whether a series of statements made between December 2010 and April 2011 were intentionally false and misleading. The statements in question dealt with problems associated with RIM’s aging product line that were negatively impacting the company’s business, the firm said in a press release. In March of this year, Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC launched a similar investigation into Palm surrounding statements the company made before it was acquired by HP.