Oct 22, 2019

FTC takes action against "stalker" app manufacturer

The seal of the FTC on a podium at FTC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / Contributor/ Getty Images

The FTC took its first-ever action Tuesday against a maker of "stalkerware," software used by spouses, parents and others to surveil purported loved ones' cell phones.

What's happening: The company, Retina-X, and its owner James N. Johns, will be required to delete all data hoarded by the apps and cease the sale of products, requiring a user to circumvent phone security until it can reasonably guarantee "legitimate" use.

Why it matters: These apps are frequently operated by abusers to covertly keep tabs on significant others, providing data on locations, movements and online behaviors.

The FTC detailed three violations of law on behalf of Retina-X — including mishandling information on children, failing to safeguard information and accepting that users would use its products to surveil others without consent.

  • Retina-X will be forced to undergo additional monitoring for information security.
  • The FTC also announced it posted several tips on detecting and mitigating stalkerware on phones.

Go deeper

Republican FTC commissioner seeks social media inquiry

Republican FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson wants her agency to probe how social media companies use consumers’ information to shape the algorithms that determine what their users see and read.

Why it matters: A wide-ranging study of social media data practices could lay the groundwork for more enforcement from the agency, as well as legislative recommendations to Congress.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

Exclusive: Apple to remove vaping apps from store

Demonstrators vape during a consumer advocate groups and vape storeowners rally outside of the White House to protest the proposed vaping flavor ban in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 9. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes, Apple will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its mobile App Store this morning, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move comes after at least 42 people have died from vaping-related lung illness, per the CDC. Most of those people had been using cartridges containing THC, though some exclusively used nicotine cartridges.

Go deeperArrowNov 15, 2019

AT&T to pay $60 million to settle unlimited data case

Photo: Joan Cros Garcia - Corbis/Contributor/Getty Images

AT&T agreed to pay $60 million on Tuesday to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint that the company misled unlimited data plan customers when it slowed their speeds.

Driving the news: The $60 million will go into a fund that AT&T will use to provide partial refunds to both current and former customers who signed up for unlimited plans before 2011 and had their data speeds slowed by AT&T. The FTC said the carrier throttled the speeds of 3.5 million customers, per its complaint.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019