Sony BMG has agreed to pay $1 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges claiming Sony violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While $1 million might seem a drop in the bucket to a company like Sony, the FTC points out the $1 million penalty matches the largest ever paid in a COPPA case.
The suit, which was filed just yesterday, alleged that Sony managed to collect personal information on roughly 30,000 users under the age of 13, including full names, gender, birth date, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and in some cases, full mailing addresses. According to the FTC, the information was obtained through various Sony-owned websites designed to promote and advertise the company's music offerings, but didn't restrict visitors under the age of 13 from registering.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC Chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."
In addition to the $1 million penalty, Sony must also delete all personal information it had collected from those under 13 years old, and must also distribute the FTC's "How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule" to all of its employees. In addition, Sony's also required to link to the children's privacy section of the FTC's website for five years.
According to a report by the Anti-Phishing Working Group the use of malware on websites intended to steal passwords and other personal information has jumped significantly over the past year.
The exact number of pages sporting hidden code meant to get your secret goodies has almost tripled between July 2007 and July 2008 to a staggering 9.529. And of those, there are 442 different types waiting for you.
The financial crisis is at part to blame for this huge boost in malware-oriented sites. “The current financial crisis has also been used by phishers to create new scams that try to scare consumers into entering their usernames and passwords into sites that mimic those of well-known distressed financial institutions,” said Dave Jevans, the AWPG Chairman. “As the economy degrades, we are seeing a continual increase in malicious and criminal activity on the Internet.”
To date, the RIAA has sued more than 20,000 individuals over alleged copyright infringement, and one could argue that the RIAA has turned its suing spree into a business model. If that's the case, consider what DigiProtect is doing to be nothing more than modern day business economics 101.
The German company has been sending out thousands of letters to UK residents accusing them of using file-sharing networks to download and distribute dozens of porn flicks. The 20-page letters lay out all the embarrassing details, including the name of the film(s) and what date and time the alleged download took place. Similar to what the RIAA has been doing, DigiProtect offers to settle out of court, usually to the tune of £500 (about $740USD).
Hit the jump to find out what the studio being represented has to say about the letters (you'll be surprised).
It’s that time of year again, Max PC readers. It’s time for stuffing ourselves, watching football, and—if "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" has taught us anything— it’s time to give thanks. As tech fans, we take a lot for granted, so we felt like taking a step back and examining all the things that are making a nerd’s life better right now.
Read on to check out our list of 17 things techies should be thankful for, then hit the comments and let us know what we missed.
If you've logged into YouTube today, you may have noticed that the embedded video player looks wider. That's because it is. In a blog post, YouTube announced it has widened the width of the page to 960 pixels in response to customer feedback, but that might only be part of the story.
According to reports, YouTube is looking to offer feature films by as early as next month and has already convinced one major Hollywood movie studio to jump on board. By upgrading its video player to support widescreen content, YouTube puts itself in a better position to pitch its service to even more content producers and better compete with other video sites like Hulu. Hulu, despite trailing YouTube by a wide margin in the number of viewers, is on track to catch up to YouTube in advertising revenue next year.
In the meantime, for those that prefer to watch crappy amateur videos in the 4:3 aspect ratio, YouTube ensures they will play just fine in the new player.
Good move for YouTube? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Want to kill some time, but tired of playing good games? We feel you. We recently decided it would be fun to try and come up with a list of the seven worst free games on the internet. However, we quickly discovered that trying to make a list of the worst anything on the internet is sort of like trying to make a list of the worlds largest numbers. That is to say, there’s an infinite amount of terribleness on the internet.
So, since we decided that coming up with a list of the worst games was too enormous a task for just us to handle, Maximum PC EIC Will Smith used his Twitter account to ask for help. Naturally, the MaxPC faithful delivered in spades. We received a whole bunch of seriously awful submissions, tried them out for ourselves, and had an office-wide vote to pick the most truly, hilariously bad games of the bunch. Now, we get to share them with you.
Classmates.com user Anthony Michaels must have felt like he really left an impression on his former friends from school. After all, the social network service was emailing Michaels to let him know his past acquaintances were viewing his profile and trying to get in touch in with him, only he'd need to upgrade his membership to find out who and to be able to email these individuals. Fair enough, he thought, but after dropping $15 on a Gold Membership, Michaels claims the whole thing was a scam and in fact no one from his past was either viewing his profile or trying to contact him.
"Upon logging into his Gold Membership profile in order to view the classmate contacts … Plaintiff discovered that in fact, no former classmate of his had tried to contact him or view his profile," the complaint reads. "Of those www.classmates.com users who were characterized ... as members who viewed Plaintiff's profile, none were former classmates of Plaintiff or persons familiar with or known to Plaintiff for that matter."
Sad for Michaels? Yes. But did Classmates.com break any laws? Several, according to the San Diego resident's lawsuit, in which Classmates.com is being accused of intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and violation of California business and professions code. Not to mention being a meanie head.
The suit alleges that there are hundreds of thousands of users just like Michaels who have been tricked into purchasing a membership to Classmates.com. The lawsuit asks the court to both refund millions in subscription feesand fine the company for its alleged deceptive advertising.
Does this lawsuit have merit? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Harvard believes that the settlement will lend a commercial shade to the Google Book Search service and that “the settlement contains too many potential limitations on access to and use of the books by members of the higher-education community and by patrons of public libraries.” However, Google can blithely continue to scan Harvard’s out-of-copyright material.
Although the $25 million settlement is yet to be ratified by a judge, the Author’s Guild delightfully labeled it the "the biggest book deal in U.S. publishing history." The deal has opened the floodgates for millions of extra titles to be part of Google Book Search. Users will have the option of purchasing a book – the revenue will be split between Google, the publisher and the author – after previewing it; the service will allow them to preview 20 percent of the pages.
Tread carefully fellow surfers, for there are angry netizens all throughout the web. Apparently, the anonymity the internet provides has users flinging insults and saying things online they wouldn't otherwise say in a face to face confrontation. The epiphany comes courtesy of a CNN report, which points out that blogs and forum posts often times "descend into ad hominem attacks, insults, and plain old name-calling." Welcome to the internet, CNN.
The news site put a lot of research into its report and is worth reading if for no other reason than to see a major news outlet devote a paragraph to "lulz" and what the term means. True credit for this one goes out to The New York Times Magazine, who as CNN points out published a story about trolls back in August. As one ex-troll told the publication, "Lulz is watching someone lose their mind at their computer 2,000 miles away while you chat with friends and laugh."
And it's not just caffeinated teens who are responsible for internet-rage. CNN references the recent account of a 43-year-old Japanese woman who killed her online "husband's" avatar after he divorced her. And don't forget those "celebrity gossip sites [that] are full of snarky comments about stars."
Our response to the 1,200-world write-up? "No s*%t." Hit the jump and tell us yours.
It is common knowledge that a plethora of copyrighted video content is easily available across the social web. Content owners, however irate, have not been able to clamp down on rampant piracy across the social web despite the full cooperation of social networking websites.
MTV and MySpace will test a new technology this month that will automatically replace pirated content – uploaded by users – with ad-backed content that is perfectly legal. The innovative technology, which has been developed by Palo Alto-based startup Auditude, is based on the company’s patented video identification tool.
MTV’s conciliatory approach is a straw in the wind as more content providers will be tempted to follow its lead.