Consumer Watchdog Applauds NHTSA Investigation of Tesla Over Autopilot Problems

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog applauded the decision by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate Tesla’s Autopilot feature and crashes related to it.
 
Consumer Watchdog has long been a critic of the rush to deploy the technology and its dangers and called for the federal government to take action to stop it. 
 

Consumer Watchdog Hacks A Tesla to Prove Dangers of Wirelessly Connected Cars

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer  Watchdog today released a video showing how a box it built with the help of technologists could hack into the wireless connection of a Tesla and take over the screen with a “This Tesla’s Been Hacked” message.  

The video can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/RgpmJ6OhPns

Google Algorithm Biased Against California Privacy Initiative Prop 24; Consumer Watchdog Calls For Investigation And Hearings

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today called for the Senate Elections Committee to investigate why a Google search for Prop 24 was, until last night, the only one of 12 ballot initiatives where the result for the nonpartisan Secretary of State reflected the “Con” argument’s negative propaganda.

KNBC TV-4 LA: Prop 24: Consumer Advocates Take Very Different Positions on Digital Privacy Proposition

US Senators Call Out NHTSA For Failure To Protect Americans From Risk Of Internet Connected Cars, Demand Answers

Washington D.C.  - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), calling out the agency's "dangerously reactive approach to cybersecurity" in Internet connected cars.

Sen. Markey Urges NHTSA to Protect Consumers from Cybersecurity Risks of Internet-Connected Cars, Referencing Consumer Watchdog Report

Kill Switch Report Details Cybersecurity Issues With Internet Connected Cars

US Senators Markey and Blumenthal Ask Federal Safety Regulators If Carmakers Reported Cyber Security Risks

Washington, DC – United States Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal today wrote the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ask if carmakers have reported the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in their Internet-connected cars and what steps NHTSA is taking to address the problem.

Watchdog Report Shows The Lack of Cybersecurity in Internet Connected Cars Puts Drivers at Risk

Kill Switch Report Highlights Widespread Hacking Vulnerability of Connected Cars

Alarming Watchdog Report Shows Connected Cars Are Vulnerable to Hacking With Potentially Fatal Consequences

Kill Switch Report Shows Internet Connected Cars Are At Risk of Fleet Wide Hacking

Consumer Watchdog Report Shows Connected Cars Are Vulnerable To Dangerous Hacking

Report Finds Hacking Of Internet Connected Cars Big National Security Threat

Los Angeles, CA – The nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog has issued a report, with the help of car industry technologists, that finds all the top 2020 cars have Internet connections to safety critical systems that leave them vulnerable to fleet wide hacks. 

The group and experts warn that a fleet wide hack at rush-hour could result in a 9-11 scale catastrophe with approximately 3,000 deaths.  

Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Auto Safety Urge DMV, AG, & FTC to Investigate Tesla for Deceptive Practices After Another Autopilot-Related Death

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog and the Center for Auto Safety today renewed their call to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Motor Vehicles to investigate dangerously misleading and deceptive practices and representations of Tesla Motors, Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Federal Trade Commission to Investigate Amazon For Unfair and Deceptive Spying Practices  

Los Angeles, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take action against Amazon for deceptively recording consumers and  their children with its Echo digital assistant. Consumer Watchdog requested the investigation for the second time in two years, following a formal complaint in December of 2017 based on its study that showed Amazon and Google had submitted patents to spy on its customers when the devices were supposed to not be on.

Assembly Insurance Committee Members Vote to Strip Insurance Consumers of their Privacy Rights; Pass “Peeping Tom” Bill to Exempt Insurers From New Privacy Act

Sacramento, CA — The members of the Assembly Insurance Committee voted unanimously today to pass AB 981 and exempt the entire insurance and financial services industries from California’s new Privacy Act.

A troupe of mimes dressed as insurance company mascots tracked lawmakers and lobbyists outside the hearing room to dramatize how the bill, sponsored by Committee Chair Tom Daly, would allow insurers to violate their policyholders' privacy.

Push To Exempt Insurance Companies From California Privacy Law By Assembly Insurance Chair Tom Daly

Los Angeles, CA — Today Consumer Watchdog called on Assembly Insurance Committee Chair Tom Daly to withdraw legislation (AB 981) that would exempt insurance companies and banks from complying with the California Consumer Privacy Act.

The Privacy Act will take effect in January and empowers consumers to prevent their personal information from being sold to other companies, as well as allowing  consumers to sue reckless companies for data breaches.

Consumer Watchdog Counters Tech Lobby Attacks In Comments to Attorney General on California’s Landmark Privacy Act

Sacramento—After last year’s passage of the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act, big tech companies including Google, Facebook, and the Chamber of Commerce are spending big on lobbying in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

Robot Cars On Average Required A Human Takeover Every 14 Miles Driven

Los Angeles, CA — Updated reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on California public roads reveal a fleet-wide average of 1 human takeover for every 14 miles tested, according to calculations by Consumer Watchdog. The number of times a human driver had to take control of the robot car during testing varied widely between companies.  Overall 28 companies including Uber, Apple, Toyota, Waymo (Google) and GM Cruise logged 2.04 million miles in testing and reported over 145,402 disengagements.

State Reports Show That Robot Cars Aren’t Ready For Public Roads

Los Angeles—New reports required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles from companies testing robot cars on the state’s public roads show the technology is not ready to operate without a human who can take control of the car, Consumer Watchdog said today. The disengagement reports reveal how many times a human driver had to take control of the robot car during testing on public roads.

Rein In Robot Cars, Or Humans Will Lose The Right Of Way

People are fighting back against robot cars.

Self-driving cars being tested in Arizona by Waymo, a Google sister company, have been attacked by residents in at least 21 separate incidents, according to the Arizona Republic. People in the Chandler area have thrown rocks at the cars, slashed their tires and run them off the road. One man even pulled a gun on a Waymo test driver.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Coalition of 22 Consumer and Privacy Groups Calling on FTC to End Google’s Apps Store’s Exploitation of Kids

Consumer Watchdog has joined a coalition of 22 consumer and public health advocacy groups calling on the Federal Trade Commission to stop Google’s app store from promoting games that violate children’s privacy, feature inappropriate content, and lure kids to watch ads and make in-app purchases.

Landmark California Consumer Privacy Act Would Have Let People Block Facebook’s Sharing of Private Data, Consumer Watchdog says

LOS ANGELES – Facebook’s latest revealed privacy invasion could have been thwarted if the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act were in effect and the strong state law must not be preempted by weak federal privacy laws, Consumer Watchdog said today.

For years, the New York Times reported this week, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it disclosed. Companies like Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify got special access to Facebook users’ data without anyone else knowing, the Times said.

Google’s Second Failure to Protect Data Security on Its Social Network Shows Need for California Privacy Law

LOS ANGELES -- Google’s revelation today that its social network Google+ suffered a second major security lapse in less than a year makes clear the Internet giant cannot be trusted to police its own platforms and underscores the need for strong laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog Calls On Pelosi To Stop Lame-Duck Preemption of New California Privacy and Auto Safety Laws

Los Angeles, CA –  Consumer advocates today called on House Minority Leader and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi to stop an effort by the auto industry in the lame duck session to overturn California privacy and auto safety laws governing self-driving cars.

​​​​​​​Consumer Watchdog Warns Continuing Revolving Door of Senior Government Auto Safety Officials to Robot Car Makers Undercuts Public’s Trust in Regulations 

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today warned that an ongoing revolving door between top government auto safety officials and the manufacturers of autonomous vehicles undercuts the public’s faith in robot car regulations and government policies. 

Massive Marriott Data Breach Shows Need for California Consumer Privacy Act

LOS ANGELES -- Marriott International’s massive data breach in which the personal information of up to 500 million guests could have been stolen shows the value of the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, Consumer Watchdog said today. 

Businesses are already working to weaken the law, the strongest privacy law in the nation which takes effect in 2020. California Legislators must resist those efforts, the nonprofit nonpartisan public interest group said.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Broad Coalition Telling Senate to Put Brakes on Flawed Robot Car Bill

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog has joined an alliance of more than 75 local, state and national organizations representing safety, law enforcement and first responders, public health, bicyclists and pedestrians, engineering, environmental and consumer groups, disability communities and families affected by motor vehicle crashes calling on the Senate to oppose a flawed autonomous vehicle bill. 

U.S., European Consumer Groups Call on FTC to Investigate Google for Deceptively Tracking Android Phone Users

An association of more than 75 consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic is asking the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google for unfairly and deceptively manipulating users of mobile phones with the Android operating system into being constantly location-tracked.

In a letter to the FTC the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) charged: “Google is removing individuals’ control over their data by deceit.”

Read the TACD letter here.

California DMV Must Release Waymo's Robot Car Insurance Details, Says Consumer Watchdog

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the California Department of Motor Vehicles to release details of Waymo’s insurance coverage for the 39 driverless robot cars the former Google unit has just received permission to test in the state.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group added that the DMV’s self-certification approach to granting permits to allow testing of cars without drivers is inadequate to protect highway safety.     

Consumer Watchdog Calls Chrysler Out Over Possible Recall For 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Los Angeles, CA -- Chrysler Fiat has failed to respond to a letter from the nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog sent more than two weeks ago identifying a potentially fatal flaw in its 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The group identified the failure of the driver’s side airbag to deploy because of the lack of electrical conductivity due to a clock spring that is the same or similar design as the 1998- 2001 Chrysler Grand Caravan in which a recall of 1.29 million automobiles was ordered.

California DMV’s Approval for Waymo to Test Driverless Robot Cars Is Premature

LOS ANGELES, CA – The California Department of Motor Vehicles approval today of Waymo’s application to test driverless robot cars in Santa Clara County is premature and key questions must be answered by both Waymo, Google’s driverless car unit, and the Department before any testing starts, Consumer Watchdog said.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Complaint Asking FTC to Investigate Apps Which Manipulate Kids

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today joined the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy and 19 other consumer and health advocacy groups in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to hold app makers accountable for unfair and deceptive practices, including falsely marketing apps that require in-app purchases as "free" and manipulating children to watch ads and make purchases.

Google+ Data Breach Shows Internet Giant Cannot Be Trusted to Police Its Platform

LOS ANGELES – The data breach of Google’s social network, Google+, that the company hid since last March, shows that the Internet Giant cannot be trusted to police its own platforms, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog first pointed out Google’s failure to police its social network in 2013 when it released a seven-month study that found the company had allowed Google+ to become a virtual playground for online predators with explicit sexual content.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on U.S. Antitrust Authorities to Follow Europe’s $5.1 Billion Lead, Take Action Against Google’s Android Abuses

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on U.S. antitrust authorities to follow the lead of Europe’s top competition official, Margrethe Vestager, and take decisive action against Google for unfairly using its monopoly power on its Android operating system.

Consumer Watchdog Heralds Landmark CA Consumer Privacy Reform

LOS ANGELES, CA –Consumer Watchdog said today that the new privacy law passed today in California is a landmark reform and should be a bellwether for America.

"Today, Californians won the right to control their private information and to hold companies accountable for data breaches with stiff financial penalties," said Jamie Court. "This landmark reform should spread to all of America and be implemented for all Americans just as it has been for Californians. 

Eight Consumer Advocacy Groups Call Upon FTC to Investigate Google and Facebook for Pushing Users into Choosing Less Privacy-friendly Options

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and six other consumer groups in calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the misleading and manipulative tactics of Google and Facebook in steering users to “consent” to privacy-invasive default settings.

Privacy Bill’s Progress in California Senate is Victory for Consumers, Consumer Watchdog Says

LOS ANGELES – The 5-0 vote today by the California Senate’s Judiciary Committee to move a compromise privacy bill forward was a significant step toward ensuring Californian’s privacy, Consumer Watchdog said.

The bill, AB 375, may not be as strong as the California Consumer Privacy Act ballot initiative it is intended to replace, but for the first time gives consumers substantial control over their personal information and provides a right of private action for people to bring a suit if there is a data breach, the nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group said.

Consumer Watchdog Calls Upon Circuit Court to Re-Interpret Internet Law Abused by Tech Companies

LOS ANGELES – An Internet law often cited by tech companies as a defense from any liability for material posted on their platforms must not be used as a shield by Grindr in a suit brought by a man who was victimized by posts on the site, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog Call on DMV to Investigate Deceptive Tesla “Autopilot” marketing

Los Angeles, CA -- The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog called on the California Department of Motor Vehicles today to investigate the dangerously misleading, deceptive marketing practices and representations made by Tesla Motors, Inc. regarding the safety and capabilities of its Autopilot feature.  

Consumer Watchdog Calls for Strong Regulations on Robot Car Testing After NTSB Crash Report Reveals Deficiencies in Uber’s Technology

LOS ANGELES, CA – Robot car developers cannot be trusted to safely test their cars on public roads without strong government regulation and oversight, said Consumer Watchdog today, after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report revealing that the Uber car that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona in March had its automatic emergency braking system turned off as part of its effort to test its robot technology.

As Americans Hit the Road for Memorial Day, Consumer Watchdog Poll Finds Voters Want Congress to Apply the Brakes on Driverless Cars

LOS ANGELES, CA – As Americans Hit the Road for Memorial Day driving their own cars, voters surveyed in four states have serious safety and privacy concerns when it comes to driverless car technology and want Congress to apply the brakes to robot car technology until it is proven safe, according to public opinion poll conducted for Consumer Watchdog released today.

Consumer Watchdog Backs California DMV’s Call For Robot Car Makers To Explain Robot Car Failures

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today backed the Californian Department of Motor Vehicle’s effort that in effect  told eight robot car manufacturers to stop beating around the bush and more clearly tell the public how robot cars being tested on public roads are actually performing.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on DMV to Open Robot Car Application Process to Public after Waymo Application Is Deemed Ready for Review

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the Department of Motor Vehicles to open its application process for granting permits to test driverless robot cars to the public as the department confirmed an applicant had provided all the information necessary to review the application.

The department would not identify the applicant, but Consumer Watchdog learned it was Waymo, originally Google’s autonomous car unit. A DMV spokesperson would not specify a timeframe but estimated it would take at least some weeks before a final decision is made on the application.

Google’s First-Quarter Lobbying Expenditures Top $5 Mmillion; AT&T, Comcast Each Surpass $4 Million

LOS ANGELES, CA – Google’s lobbying expenditures in the first quarter of this year topped $5 million, as the Internet giant sought to influence federal policymakers on issues including online privacy, competition, online advertising and online sex-trafficking, Consumer Watchdog said today.

DMV Says First Application for Testing Robot Cars Without Driver Lacked Needed Information

LOS ANGELES, CA – The California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed today that the first application to test robot cars without a driver lacked necessary information and that a letter has been sent to the still-unidentified applicant asking for additional information.

No Free Lunch on Facebook

Much of the criticism of Mark Zuckerberg's testimony in Congress from the public and the media alike was leveled at members of Congress for asking supposedly stupid questions rather than at Mark Zuckerberg for his disingenuous responses. "Congress doesn't understand Facebook," claimed Dylan Byers of CNN.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Google, Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to Follow Facebook and Drop Opposition to Privacy Ballot Initiative

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today called on tech giants Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to follow Facebook’s lead and drop their opposition to a California privacy ballot initiative.  The not-for-profit group called on Mark Zuckerberg – as an individual -- to become the public face of the campaign as the poster child for how privacy problems can go awry even when you think you have a handle on them.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Congress to Act to Regulate Facebook and Protect Online Privacy

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today called on Congress to enact legislation that would protect consumers’ online privacy and not merely facilitate Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s latest public-relations-driven apology tour.

“Facebook has a longtime record of violating privacy, making a show of apologizing, and then going forward to invade privacy again,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project director. “Hearings aren’t enough, unless Congress simply wants to be an enabler for Zuckerberg’s continued abuses.”

Consumer Watchdog Welcomes Law That Holds Websites Like Backpage Accountable for Sex Trafficking

LOS ANGELES – Consumer Watchdog today welcomed President Trump’s signing of FOSTA/SESTA into law, calling it a major victory for victims of Internet sex trafficking and their families, as well as for those hoping to hold technology companies more accountable for the content on their websites.

Consumer Watchdog Joins Complaint Charging Google’s YouTube Violates Federal Children’s Privacy Law

LOS ANGELES, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined a coalition of more than 20 leading U.S. child advocacy, consumer, and privacy groups in filing a complaint asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and sanction Google for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in operating the popular video platform, YouTube.

Consumer Groups to Zuckerberg: Stop Electioneering; Let Jimmy Carter Monitor Facebook

SANTA MONICA, CA --- A coalition of privacy and consumer groups today warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the integrity of elections, in this country and internationally, is at stake, unless Facebook stops electioneering and retains Jimmy Carter to audit Facebook’s influence on elections.

Consumer Watchdog Challenges Facebook’s Zuckerberg to Put His Money Where His Mouth Is and Fund Privacy Ballot Initiative

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to put his money where his mouth is and help fund a California privacy ballot initiative and also tell the social platform’s users if they were among the 50 million people whose data was breached.

Consumer Watchdog Says NHTSA Needs More Data Before Paving the Road For Unregulated Robot Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA --- Shortly following the death of a pedestrian killed by a robot car over the weekend in Tempe, Arizona, Consumer Watchdog called on the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to collect more data about robot cars before changing federal policies that would effectively pave the road for unregulated robot cars. 

Consumer Watchdog Joins Coalition Demanding DOT Exercise Strong Oversight of Robot Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog has joined a broad coalition representing public health and safety professionals, bicyclists, pedestrians, smart growth advocates, consumers, environmentalists, law enforcement, first responders, and individuals with disabilities in calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to fulfill its legal obligation to ensure effective oversight for the development and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

In a letter today to DOT Secretary Elaine Chao the 26 signatories to the letter warned:

Consumer Watchdog Praises House for Passing Bill to Stop Internet Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a bipartisan bill amending a key Internet law so rogue websites like Backpage.com can be held accountable for facilitating child sex trafficking.

The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group called on the Senate to pass a similar bipartisan bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, (SESTA) S. 1693, sponsored by Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  SESTA has 67 co-sponsors.

New CA Rules Make Dangerous Video Game Out of Robot Car Testing

SANTA MONICA, CA – New California autonomous vehicle regulations released today by the Department of Motor Vehicles will turn testing robot cars into a deadly video game that threatens highway safety, Consumer Watchdog warned.

“A remote test operator will be allowed to monitor and attempt to control the robot car from afar,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy and Technology Project Director. “It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake.”

Consumer Watchdog Praises Apparent Agreement in Congress on Bill to Amend Internet Law to Stop Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised an apparent agreement that would combine language from U.S. Senate and House bills that would allow rogue websites like Backpage to be held accountable for enabling child sex trafficking.

Speed Not Safety Is California Senate’s Concern In Robot Car Hearing

The California Senate Transportation and Housing Committee’s hearing this week, “Autonomous Vehicles: Opportunities and Challenges,” was meant to be an opportunity to field questions and concerns representing both public and private interests about putting self-driving cars on the road. Instead, the Senate committee’s investment in protecting corporate interests ultimately outweighed senators’ concern for the public. 

Consumer Watchdog Warns U.S. Senate: New Data Shows Self-Driving Cars Cannot Drive Themselves

SANTA MONICA, CA -- Autonomous Vehicles are not safe to be deployed on public roads, Consumer Watchdog told the U.S. Senate, basing its warning on an analysis of required reports from companies testing robot cars in California and called on senators to halt a bill that would allow robot cars on public roads.      

Companies’ Failure to Publish Robot Car Safety Self-Assessments Shows NHTSA’s Voluntary Standards Don’t Work

SANTA MONICA, CA – The failure of virtually all robot car developers to publish safety self-assessments described in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s policy on automated driving systems demonstrates the failure of voluntary standards to protect highway safety, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Consumer Watchdog Asks FTC to Act Against Google Home, Amazon Echo Digital Assistants for Deception, COPPA Violation

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate and take action against Google and Amazon for deceptively marketing their Home and Echo digital assistants and charged the two Internet giants’ devices also violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

In a letter to FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny Consumer Watchdog Privacy and Technology Project Director John M. Simpson said the deception issue was raised by patents the companies filed that are associated with the devices

How Google and Amazon are ‘spying’ on you

You would be forgiven for thinking that your private conversations were just that, but two leading voice assistants are listening to everything you say, a new report claims.

Patent applications from Amazon and Google revealed how their Alexa and Voice Assistant powered smart speakers are ‘spying’ on you.

The study warns of an Orwellian future in which the gadgets eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits.

Future versions of gadgets like the Echo and Home will use this data to try and sell you products, it says.

Google and Amazon really DO want to spy on you: Patent reveals future versions of their voice assistants will record your conversations to sell you products

You would be forgiven for thinking that your private conversations were just that, but two leading voice assistants are listening to everything you say, a new report claims.
Patent applications from Amazon and Google revealed how their Alexa and Voice Assistant powered smart speakers are 'spying' on you.
The study warns of an Orwellian future in which the gadgets eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits.
Future versions of gadgets like the Echo and Home will use this data to try and sell you products, it says.

Driverless cars won’t need backup drivers in California next year

A white Toyota Highlander rigged with cameras and sensors winds through San Francisco’s Financial District. It eases into an intersection, checks for pedestrians and allows oncoming traffic to pass before making a left turn. These turns are complicated for any driver in the city — but here, the person behind the wheel is only there to monitor the car as it navigates itself. This autonomous vehicle belongs to Zoox, a Menlo Park startup in the race to develop fully self-driving cars.

Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping

SANTA MONICA, CA – Internet giants Amazon and Google are slashing prices and offering supposed deals on their “digital assistants” this holiday season, but a study of patent applications associated with the devices reveals plans for massive surveillance of users’ homes, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

Consumer Watchdog Joins International Call for Rental Car Firms to Protect Driver Data Privacy

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today joined Privacy International and other public interest groups in an international call for car rental companies to protect the privacy of driver and passenger data their rented vehicles collect.

“Today’s cars are little more than rolling computers that amass huge amounts of information,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project Director.  “When you rent a car, you must have the right to control how that extremely revealing data is used.”

California DMV Heeds Consumer Watchdog Warning on Proposed Robot Car Liability Language

SANTA MONICA, CA. – The California Department of Motor Vehicles is heeding a warning from Consumer Watchdog and has just dropped language suggested by General Motors from its proposed robot car regulations that would have let self-driving car automakers escape liability for crashes and shift the burden to consumers.

Consumer Watchdog Backs Justice Department Bid to Block $85 Billion AT&T-Time Warner Deal

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today backed the U.S. Department of Justice suit to block AT&T’s planned purchase of Time Warner for $85 billion, saying that the proposed deal would give the giant company too much control over both content and distribution, limiting consumers’ choice and ultimately costing them more money.

“No matter what other motivations may exist for bringing this suit,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy and Technology Project Director, “It is the correct policy.”

California may limit liability of self-driving carmakers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators are embracing a General Motors recommendation that would help makers of self-driving cars avoid paying for accidents and other trouble, raising concerns that the proposal will put an unfair burden on vehicle owners.

If adopted, the regulations drafted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles would protect these carmakers from lawsuits in cases where vehicles haven’t been maintained according to manufacturer specifications.

Consumer Watchdog Warns DMV Adopted GM Robot Car Rule Language Exceeds Its Authority

SANTA MONICA, CA – Language adopted from a General Motors suggestion by the California Department of Motor Vehicles in its revised proposed autonomous vehicle regulations would “let robot carmakers railroad consumers” into being liable for car crashes when the robot driver fails and the rule exceeds DMV’s authority, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

Google Must Release Robot Car Safety Record Before Using Riders as Guinea Pigs

SANTA MONICA, CA – Waymo, must publicly release key information about its robot cars’ driving records in Arizona before it turns the vehicles loose on Phoenix streets and uses passengers as human guinea pigs, Consumer Watchdog said today.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group added that the most recent information required to be filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows Waymo’s cars aren’t ready to be deployed without drivers.

Consumer Watchdog Praises Senators Harris, Feinstein for Supporting Law to Stop Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein for supporting bipartisan Congressional efforts to amend a key Internet law so rogue websites like Backpage.com can be held accountable for facilitating child sex trafficking. The bill S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA), creates the first liability for online companies that aid and abet underage sex trafficking.

Consumer Watchdog Tells California DMV: Revised Robot Car Rules Are a "License to Kill"

Revised proposed California regulations covering the deployment of autonomous vehicles amount to a "license to kill" because they provide no enforceable safety standards and new amendments would allow automakers to escape responsibility when their robot technology fails, Consumer Watchdog said today.

In comments about the amended regulations proposed in September that were just filed with the Department of Motor the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest groups said:

AT&T Tops Q3 Lobbying Spend - Comcast's spending Up, Charter's Down

AT&T barely outspent Google to be the third quarter's top telecom/tech spender on lobbying, shelling out $4.13 million, up 8% from Q3 2016, according to Consumer Watchdog's tracking of 16 communications companies. 

The telco is trying to shepherd its Time Warner merger through Washington, though it has just extended the close on that deal as the Justice Department continues to vet it; the FCC is not separately reviewing the merger.

AT&T, Google 3rd Quarter Lobbying Expenditures to Shape Policy Top $4 Million Each

SANTA MONICA, CA – AT&T and Google third-quarter lobbying expenditures this year both topped $4 million with the telecommunications conglomerate barely edging out the Internet giant for having spent the most money in the period to influence federal policymakers, Consumer Watchdog said today.

AT&T barely kept the lead as its 2017 third quarter expenses increased to $4.43 million from $4.11 million, an 8 percent increase from the third quarter of 2016, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed Friday with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

California DMV Revises Rules To Get Ready For Self-Driving Future

Robot cars with no steering wheels, brake pedals or accelerator pedals — and no drivers — could be legal in California by June under updated regulations proposed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday.

However, makers of the autonomous cars must certify their safety to federal regulators under standards that are still evolving, so actual deployment is likely to take longer.

Driverless Cars May Be Allowed On California Streets Without Humans Next Year

Driverless cars without human drivers could hit the streets of California as early as 2018, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

On Wednesday, the California DMV unveiled its revised proposed regulations that roll out the red carpet for driverless car testing and public use of those vehicles. A public comment period will run through Oct. 25.

The regulations don’t just apply to Uber — 42 companies hold permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, many of which have tested in San Francisco.

California Seeks To Ease Rules On Self-Driving Cars

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - California regulators on Wednesday unveiled revised rules that would allow self-driving cars to travel the state’s highways without human drivers for the first time as early as next year, a move that won the support of automakers.

The new rules represent a compromise with automotive and technology companies, which had objected to many of the requirements previously proposed by the state.

The California rules could still conflict with proposed federal legislation that would largely bar states from regulating autonomous vehicles.

California To Allow Autonomous Cars Without Driver

California officials Wednesday unveiled new regulations that would allow autonomous vehicles to operate on state roads in test projects without a human operator.

A revised regulation which could take effect in 2018 would eliminate a provision in an earlier draft that required "physical control by a natural person sitting in the vehicle's driver's seat" in any autonomous car.

The language was replaced with a requirement for "supervising the autonomous technology's performance of the dynamic driving task."

California Plans To Allow Autonomous Cars Without Backup Drivers

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- California is developing a plan to allow the testing of driverless cars without someone behind the steering wheel by next June.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Motor Vehicles released proposed rules. The department is seeking public comment until Oct. 25.

Officials hope to submit final regulations by the end of this year and allow the cars to pick up non-paying passengers without a backup driver by June.

Super Cali's Futuristic Robo-Cars In Focus – Even Though Watchdogs Say They're Something Quite Atrocious

DMV paves way for human-free fully autonomous vehicles

Totally autonomous cars with no drivers, no passengers nor steering wheels are set to roll out onto California's streets under rules proposed by the US state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

The regulator's suggested changes to the Golden State's red tape, published Wednesday, would grease the wheels for testing next-gen self-driving rides, a move that will be welcomed by techies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Autonomous Cars Without Backup Drivers Could Come To California Roads Before June

Fully autonomous vehicles — without backup drivers — could be on California public roads by June or earlier, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said Wednesday as it unveiled a new version of proposed rules.

The new draft regulations add requirements for companies testing self-driving cars to notify local authorities about where and when the testing will occur, but impose no requirement to ask for permission, the DMV said in a conference call.

Revised DMV Robot Car Rules Would Weaken Safety Protections, Consumer Watchdog Warns

SANTA MONICA, CA – Revised regulations formally proposed today by the California Department of Motor Vehicles covering deployment of robot cars and testing of self-driving cars without steering wheels weaken safety protections because they wrongly rely on nonexistent federal safety standards, Consumer Watchdog said.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group called for the California regulations to be strengthened before they take effect and said the DMV should also immediately begin a rulemaking to enact regulations covering the testing of self-driving robot trucks.

Backpage’s Court Settlement with Three of Its Sex Trafficking Victims Won’t Stop Bipartisan Efforts to Amend Internet Law

SANTA MONICA, CA – A confidential settlement in a civil suit brought in Seattle against Backpage by three of the website’s victims will not stop a bipartisan Congressional effort to amend a key Internet law so websites that facilitate sex trafficking can be prosecuted, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Word of the legal settlement came as IBM Corp. endorsed a bipartisan Senate bill to amend the law and the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the House version of the bill.

Senate “Bipartisan” Robot Car Bill Threatens Highway Safety, Consumer Watchdog Warns

SANTA MONICA, CA – An autonomous vehicles bill introduced today in the U.S. Senate follows the dangerous route chosen by the House of Representatives when it rushed to pass a bill that threatens highway safety and leaves a regulatory void rather than enacting necessary protections and safety standards, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

The bipartisan American Vision for Safer Transportation Through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act introduced today is scheduled to be “marked up” by the Senate Commerce Committee next week.

The Sex Trafficking Fight Could Take Down a Bedrock Tech Law

No origin story of the internet would be complete without mentioning one of its legal pillars: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 21-year-old law that shields tech companies from liability for content posted by users. Silicon Valley has long argued that any change to the law would hamper free speech and destroy the internet as we know it.

Some Thoughts On The Transportation Department's New Autonomous Vehicle Guidelines

On September 13, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the release of an updated set autonomous vehicles guidelines, titled “Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety.” The new guidelines document, which covers fewer than 30 pages, is notably shorter than the 100+ page automated vehicles policy document released in September 2016 under the Obama administration.

Tech Companies Push Back As Congress Tries To Fight Online Sex Trafficking

In its next step to amend a federal law which allows websites such as Backpage.com to host ads for child sex-trafficking, the Senate is holding its first hearing Tuesday on a bill entitled the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

DOT Issues Self-Driving Car Road Map

Coincides with effort in Congress to legislate safety, deployment framework

Automated vehicles and V2V communications systems are on the move.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Department of Transportation have issued new safety guidelines for Automated Driving Systems (ADS) that pave the way for testing and deployment of the systems, which will work hand in driving glove with broadband-based vehicle-to-vehicle communications given the need for the exchange of data.

Trump Administration to Driverless Car Makers: Go Nuts!

On Tuesday, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao revealed the updated version of the guidelines for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. The DOT secretary defended the guidelines, which opt for voluntary guidance rather than enforceable rules. Chao said that a third version is in progress and slated to be introduced in 2018.

Op-Ed Commentary: Bipartisan Effort Could End Online Child Sex Trafficking

One victim of sex trafficking began her ordeal when she was 15. She was sold through the website Backpage.com for sex to men across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. She was raped over 600 times over the course of four months.

Another victim was sex trafficked through Backpage for three years — starting when she was 14 — in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Over those three years, she was raped thousands of times. A third victim was sex trafficked when she was 15 in Massachusetts and Florida.

Trump Administration’s New Self-Driving-Car Guidance Is Deliberately Toothless

They’re just guidelines and they’re toothless, but the contents of the Trump administration’s updated policy paper on autonomous vehicles are important for getting everyone on the same page so innovation can blossom. The rise of self-driving cars means more mobility options for those with disabilities, less commuter congestion, and fewer freeway fatalities, so the sooner it gets here the better. Such was the message from U.S.

Atlanta Tests Self-Driving Vehicle In The Heart Of The City

ATLANTA — The city of Atlanta tested a self-driving vehicle on one of its busiest streets Thursday. The test on North Avenue in the city's bustling Midtown area meant that Atlanta has become one of the largest urban areas to test autonomous vehicles, joining Sao Paulo and Shanghai. Here's a look at some of the key aspects of the test and the issues involved:

THE TEST:

The test was aimed at showing how an autonomous vehicle would navigate in real-world traffic.

Consumer Watchdog Tells Google, Facebook Executives to Testify on Internet Law and Not Hide

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called upon the executives of Google and Facebook to testify at a Senate hearing next week – rather than hide – and explain their position that a key Internet law should not be amended so websites that facilitate online sex trafficking, like Backpage can be held accountable.

U.S. to Let Automakers Self-Police Self-Driving Car Development

The U.S. Transportation Department unveiled a new policy that permits companies developing autonomous vehicles to self-police the technology’s safety, a move that drew plaudits from automakers but criticism from safety advocates.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the policy incorporates concerns raised by companies and others about initial guidance released by the Obama administration and will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration be flexible as self-driving vehicles develop.

How Badly Did Equifax Mishandle Its Data Breach?

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FEATURING JAMIE COURT – The oldest credit reporting company in the US, Equifax announced this month that a massive data breach by hacking has compromised the personal information of about 143 million people, mostly in the US but also in the UK and Canada. The multi-billion dollar company says it found out about the breach in late July, and yet took weeks to inform the public.

Feds Move Driverless Safety Assessments To Honor System

Ann Arbor — President Donald Trump’s administration is doing away with an Obama-era policy that could have required automakers to submit safety assessments showing their self-driving cars meet 15 guidelines before placing them on public roads.

Instead, the Trump administration’s proposal says automakers “may” submit a voluntary safety self-assessment if they want to demonstrate their self-driving cars are safe. The proposal was unveiled Tuesday by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during an appearance at the MCity test facility for autonomous vehicles in Ann Arbor.

Consumer Watchdog Praises 21st Century Fox for Backing Amendment to Internet Law to Stop Online Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised 21st Century Fox for joining Tech giant Oracle and CoStar Group in supporting a bipartisan Congressional effort to amend a key Internet law so rogue websites like Backpage can be held accountable for facilitating child sex trafficking.

In a letter to sponsors of the Senate bill, Sen. Ron Portman (R-O) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), 21st Century Fox Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs Chip Smith wrote:

U.S. Updates Self-Driving Car Guidelines

ANN ARBOR, Mich. –  The Trump administration is updating safety guidelines for self-driving cars in an attempt to clear barriers for automakers and tech companies who want to get test vehicles on the road.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the new voluntary guidelines Tuesday during a visit to an autonomous vehicle testing facility at the University of Michigan.

Trump Administration Unveils Gguidelines On Self-Driving Cars

The Trump administration released new guidelines on Tuesday designed to promote the development of self-driving cars.

"Our country is on the verge of one of the most exciting and important innovations in transportation history," Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said at a press conference at the University of Michigan.

"We are motivated by the potential of automated tech to transform mobility, reshape transportation, and revolutionize safety," Chao said at a press conference at the University of Michigan.

Driverless-Car Rules Loosen: U.S. Regulator Stops Demanding Safety Assessments

Go for it! In essence, that’s the Trump administration’s new directive on driverless-car development.

Under that directive, automakers and technology companies will be asked to voluntarily submit safety assessments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but they don’t have to do it.

And states are being advised to use a light regulatory hand.

Feds Vow To Clear Road For Self-Driving Car Makers

The U.S. government has a message for the scores of companies racing to develop self-driving cars: We want to make your life easier.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Tuesday unveiled revised federal guidelines for testing and deploying autonomous cars that aim to be nimble and supportive of innovation, while aligning with legislation currently pending in Congress, she said. The guidelines also clarify that states should play a limited role to avoid a messy patchwork of conflicting regulations.

Federal Government Offers New Guidance For Self-Driving Cars With Focus On Safety

The Trump administration has established its support for self-driving car deployment, following the U.S. Department of Transportation’s release Tuesday of new federal guidelines for automobile manufacturers and technology companies vying to create fully automated systems.

The new guidelines are seen as a win for the automated vehicles industry, allowing the private sector’s innovation to progress without much formal regulation.

NTSB Finding That Tesla’s Autopilot Played Key Role in Deadly Florida Crash Shows Need for Enforceable Federal Safety Standards

SANTA MONICA, CA – The National Transportation Safety Board’s finding that Tesla’s Autopilot shares the blame for a fatal crash with a truck in Florida last year underscores the need for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards covering automated driver assistance technologies, Consumer Watchdog said today.

The NTSB’s findings came an hour before the Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new autonomous vehicle guidance, “A Vision for Safety 2.0,” which explicitly ignored so-called Level 2 technologies like Autopilot.

New Federal Robot Car Guidelines Threaten Highway Safety, Consumer Watchdog Warns

SANTA MONICA, CA – The new Federal autonomous vehicle policy released today poses a threat to highway safety, Consumer Watchdog warned and the nonpartisan nonprofit group called for the enactment of enforceable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards specifically covering self-driving cars.

Dubbed a “Vision for Safety 2.0” and released by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, the new policy emphasizes the voluntary nature of the new federal guidelines.

Consumer Groups Slam Equifax Over Security Breach Arbitration Clause

Consumer watchdogs criticized Atlanta-based Equifax on Friday for its offer of a package of credit and identity theft protection services in the wake of a giant data breach, because of fine print they say could limit consumers’ recourse in the event of dispute.

Consumer groups say a clause in the terms of use bind them to arbitration, giving away consumers’ right to a trial.

Google Appears to Be Manipulating Its Search Engine Results to Defend Internet Law that Enables Sex Trafficking, Consumer Watchdog Finds

SANTA MONICA, CA – Internet giant Google appears to be manipulating its search engine results to favor opposition to bipartisan efforts seeking to amend a key Internet law so websites like Backpage that facilitate online sex trafficking can be held accountable, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Three of the top four links returned under the news tab for the search term “Section 230” were to articles from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a staunch opponent of amending the Internet law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Consumer Watchdog found.

Equifax’s Data Breach Response, Credit Monitoring Offer May Violate California Law, Consumer Watchdog Says

SANTA MONICA, CA – Giant credit bureau Equifax’s response to a data breach and its offer for free credit monitoring for victims may violate California law, Consumer Watchdog said today. The group called for Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate.

California law requires that a company whose database was breached must provide a year of free credit monitoring to the victims and that notification of the breach “be made in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay.”

House Speeds Up Self-Driving Cars On U.S. Roads

Legislation would also clear most state roadblocks

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to bring self-driving cars to public roads at a faster rate.

The measure gives the U.S. government the authority to exempt autonomous vehicles from safety standards that are not applicable to the self-driving technology. It also allows car companies to put up to 100,000 of these vehicles a year on the road.

U.S. House Passes Bill To Allow Self-Driving Cars in Every State

On to the Senate

Self-driving cars have been on the horizon for the past few years, as companies like Tesla and Waymo have been focused on bringing autonomous vehicles to the market. Even though self-driving tech has been improving, it seems perpetually a few years away. Now, the U.S. House just passed legislation that could accelerate the development of self-driving cars by allowing them to be driven in all 50 states.

House BIll Would Put Thousands More Autonomous Vehicles On U.S. Roads

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Wednesday, aimed at lifting motor vehicle standards that previously stymied the introduction of new technologies for autonomous cars.

It could become the first federal law specifically aimed at self-driving vehicles, preempting state legislation. Under the bill, each autonomous car maker would eventually be able to deploy up to 100,000 vehicles in a 12-month period — currently, manufacturers may only deploy 2,500 each year.

Consumer Watchdog Praises Tech Giant Oracle Support for Amending Internet Law to Stop Sex Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today praised Tech giant Oracle for breaking ranks with the rest of the industry and supporting bipartisan Congressional efforts to amend a key Internet law so rogue websites like Backpage can be held accountable for facilitating child sex trafficking.

House Passes Legislation Giving Feds Final Say On Performance Standards For Self-Driving Cars

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives today easily passed legislation that gives federal regulators final say over performance standards for self-driving vehicles and could allow for as many as 100,000 such vehicles a year to be exempted from safety standards while the technology is developing.

House Vote Aims To Set National Standards For Self-Driving Cars

A vote is slated to take place Wednesday in the House of Representatives on the “Self Drive Act,” which will put in place national standards to oversee how autonomous vehicles will be governed in the U.S.

The act aims to replace a possible patchwork of state-by-state laws for the technology, which is being developed by companies including Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), Uber, GM (NYSE: GM), Samsung, Mercedes Benz, Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) and AutoX.

House Unanimously Approves Sweeping Self-Driving Car Measure

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House on Wednesday unanimously approved a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

The bill now goes to the Senate and would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

Self Driving Technology To Face Its Toughest Test In House Of Representatives

Self-driving car technology will face its toughest test in the United States on Wednesday with the House of Representatives set to vote on the proposal for getting autonomous vehicles on the American roads. The proposed legislation is expected to not just help companies in developing the technology further but it will also ensure speedy deployment of autonomous vehicles on the American roads with minimum state oversight.

Self-Driving Cars Must Have Technology To Prevent Use In Terror, Lawmakers Say

In bipartisan vote, House of Representatives passes Self Drive Act, aiming to streamline regulatory process in order to get vehicles on road sooner

Self-driving vehicles will need to be equipped with cybersecurity technology to prevent them from being used in terrorist attacks, according to legislation passed by the US House of Representatives on Wednesday.

House “Bipartisan” Robot Car Bill Threatens Highway Safety, Consumer Watchdog Warns

SANTA MONICA, CA -- A bill covering autonomous vehicles that the House of Representatives rushed to pass today threatens highway safety and leaves a regulatory void rather than enacting necessary protections, Consumer Watchdog warned today.

The bill, passed on a voice vote, under rules to expedite consideration, was being touted in some quarters as an example of new-found Congressional bipartisanship.

“Bipartisanship is worthless when it produces a dangerous bill,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director.

House Passes Self-Driving Car Rules To Map Out Vehicles’ Future

The House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed proposed legislation to get fully autonomous vehicles on American roads quickly and with minimal state-by-state oversight.

Supporters of the proposed rules say they will help companies developing the technology in the U.S. compete in the high-stakes race toward driving’s future, while critics say it’s too soon to give firms leeway on safety.

Congress Asked To Investigate Google/New America Story

Cites Times story that scholar was canned after criticizing major donor

 

The Content Creators Coalition has called on Congress to investigate Google in the wake of a New York Times story that the New America Foundation—Google is a big donor—canned a scholar and his Open Markets initiative after he praised a European Union penalty levied against Google. New America, a think tank whose funders include major computer companies, said the story just isn't true.

Op-Ed: Google’s Disturbing Influence Over Think Tanks

The first thing you see when you walk into the offices of the New America Foundation in Washington is the Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab, a space named after the executive chairman of Google’s parent company. Google, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation are the principal funders of that think tank.

Senate Launches Bill To Remove Immunity For Websites Hosting Illegal Content, Spurred By Backpage.com

The Senate on Tuesday introduced an amendment to a law that protects the hosts of websites from liability for content posted by others to go after sites such as Backpage.com that have been criticized for facilitating child sex trafficking.

Colorado Debuts Driverless Truck To Protect Road Crews

DENVER -- Colorado's transportation agency began using a driverless truck on Friday that is designed to protect highway work crews from oncoming traffic.

The truck is officially known as an Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle, but it is not really autonomous like the self-driving cars being tested around the country. Instead, the truck is electronically controlled by a driver in another truck ahead of it.

If the protection vehicle loses its electronic "tether" to the lead vehicle, it is programmed to pull over and stop.

Tech Firms' Fight Against Hate Could Haunt Them

By setting itself up as a gatekeeper against racism, Silicon Valley could weaken its arguments against legislation that targets other harmful online content

The tech industry’s crackdown on racism could complicate one of its biggest fights in Congress, where Silicon Valley is lobbying hard against legislation aimed at weeding out other harmful online content.

The Amazon-Whole Foods Deal Has Received The Green Light From The FTC

The Federal Trade Commission has given Amazon the green light to proceed with its Whole Foods acquisition.
In a statement Wednesday, the FTC said it was no longer pursuing its investigation into whether the $13.7 billion deal would be anticompetitive.

"Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted," said Bruce Hoffman, the acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition.

Amazon Deal For Whole Foods Wins U.S. Regulatory, Shareholder Approvals

WASHINGTON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) on Wednesday cleared two of the biggest hurdles it needed to close its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O), with approvals from a U.S. regulator and the grocery chain’s shareholders.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said in a statement it would not pursue its investigation into the proposed merger further after reviewing whether the deal would substantially lessen competition or constituted an unfair method of competition.

Amazon's Whole Foods Acquisition Wins Approval From The FTC, Shareholders

The agency chose not to block the deal based off speculation

Back in June, Amazon announced that it would be acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Critics were quick to respond that the deal was a huge threat to competition in the grocery industry and that it shouldn’t receive approval from regulators.

FTC Approves Whole Foods-Amazon Merger

Amazon.com Inc.'s takeover of Whole Foods Market Inc. cleared its biggest hurdle on Wednesday as federal regulators approved the e-commerce giant's big bet on the more than $700 billion food retail market.
The Federal Trade Commission's decision allows the companies to complete their $13.7 billion deal, including debt, and avoid a prolonged antitrust investigation.

Whole Food shareholders also cleared the deal Wednesday, the Austin, Texas-based company said. Amazon shareholders don't need to sign off on the transaction.

War Over Backpage Moves To A New Battlefield

WASHINGTON -- Big internet companies are pushing for language in a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement that would undercut attempts by members of Congress, including many from the St. Louis area, to curb liability protection for platforms that host the controversial online advertising site Backpage.

Until recently, the prime policy fights surrounding Backpage, which critics say runs ads for illegal sex, have been in Congress and in the states.

Op-Ed: Another View -- John M. Simpson: Closing A Loophole On Sex Trafficking

One victim of sex trafficking began her ordeal when she was 15. She was sold through website Backpage.com for sex to men across Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. She was raped more than 600 times over the course of four months.

Another victim was sex trafficked through Backpage for three years starting when she was 14 years old in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Over those three years, she was raped thousands of times.

EDITORIAL: Closing Loopholes: While Protecting Online Speech

Government restrictions on online speech should be undertaken with the greatest skepticism.

But when internet companies knowingly facilitate illegal acts, such as human trafficking, that’s not speech. That’s a crime.

John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog today writes about efforts to close a loophole in the Communications Decency Act that he argues has allowed a company to get away with profiting from the sex slave trade.

Consumer Watchdog Takes Fight Against Online Giant Amazon’s Deceptive Pricing to 11 States

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog took the fight against Amazon’s deceptive pricing practices to the state level today after the Federal Trade Commission approved a $14 billion deal for the online retailing giant to buy Whole Foods.

The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group filed petitions asking 11 state attorneys general to act against Amazon’s deceptive pricing. Backing up the petitions were two in-depth studies showing how Amazon uses bogus reference process to leave the impression with consumers that they are getting discounts when, in fact, they are not.

Consumer Watchdog Backs Banning Robot Cars in Chicago Until Feds Act on Safety Regulations

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today backed a proposed city ordinance that would ban self-driving robot cars from the streets of Chicago unless the federal government enacts enforceable safety standards for autonomous vehicles.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group added that testing autonomous vehicles would be appropriate if adequate safeguards were in place, including a trained human test driver behind a steering wheel and brake pedal.

Google Steps Out Of Shadows To Press Congress to Keep Shielding Online Child Sex-Trafficking

SANTA MONICA, CA – Internet giant Google, which claims the motto “Don’t Be Evil,” is leaning on US lawmakers to oppose legislation fixing a key Internet law that shields websites enabling online child sex-trafficking, and would finally let victims hold rogue websites like Backpage accountable, Consumer Watchdog said today.

Does Consumer Watchdog Founder Want Asimov-like Rules for Robot Cars?

A virtual grin arose on the face of Harvey Rosenfield with the mention of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.

The mention was made during a phone call, but the overwhelming satisfaction of a smile was easily detectible in his voice during a conversation that had an otherwise ominous tone.

It was as if he had been waiting for someone to make a connection between a set of principles for autonomous vehicle technology he has authored and the famed robotics rules penned in 1942 by the science fiction author.

Consumer Watchdog Warns Big Tech Is Trying to Pull End Run Around New Bipartisan Congressional Efforts to Hold Backpage.com Accountable

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today warned that the tech industry is pressing the Trump Administration to adopt language in a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal that would protect websites like the notorious Backpage.com that facilitate child sex-trafficking.

Amazon Accused of “Surge Pricing,” Misleading Consumers During Prime Day

According to a recent report, a vendor who sells direct through Amazon has stepped forward to accuse the ecommerce giant of misleading business practices. Specifically, they said that Amazon jacked up the suggested retail price of their product on Prime Day 2017 to make it seem like the discount consumers were getting was far better than it actually was.

Driverless Car Bill Moves Quickly To House

A driverless car bill is quickly moving through the House, as Congress races to pass the first federal legislation to address the emerging technology.

The Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved a legislative package Thursday that would bar states from setting certain driverless car rules and allow manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles per year without meeting existing auto safety standards.

House Panel Approves Legislation To Speed Deployment Of Self-Driving Cars

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An influential U.S. House committee on Thursday approved a revised bipartisan bill on a 54-0 vote that would speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles.

The bill would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years.

Caveat Emptor: Feds Probe Amazon Over Illegal Discounting

The FTC began looking into potential discrepancies in Amazon's pricing list after a recent Consumer Watchdog report, a source told Reuters.

The inquiry found that 61 percent of Amazon's products with reference prices were higher for the same product than what the company had sold in the previous 90 days, the Consumer Watchdog wrote in a letter to the FTC dated July 6.

After receiving the complaint, the agency made informal inquiries about the allegations, according to a source who did not want to named in order to preserve his business relationships.

FTC Reportedly Looking Into Potentially Deceptive Amazon Discount Pricing

When you say you’re selling an item for 30% off of some higher original price, there are rules about how real that “original” price has to be. If that reference is made up, or the item never actually sells for that price, you can land yourself in some legal trouble. And now sources say that the Federal Trade Commission is having a look to see if that’s what Amazon is up to.

“A source close to the probe” tells Reuters that the investigation stems from a complaint from a letter advocacy group Consumer Watchdog sent to the FTC.

FTC Investigating Amazon After Nonprofit Claims Company Deceives Customers With Fake Prices

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into claims made by a nonprofit that accuse Amazon of misleading customers about price bargains, a source close to the investigation told Reuters.

The probe is reportedly part of the FTC’s review of Amazon’s recent $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods.

Feds Reportedly Investigating Amazon Because Prices May Be Too Good To Be True

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether Amazon deceives its customers about pricing, according to a Reuters report published Thursday.

The FTC’s probe is part of a larger review into Amazon’s recent decision to purchase Whole Foods, and stems from a consumer group’s own probe.

The FTC Has Some Bad News for Amazon

In conjunction with its review of Amazon.com's (AMZN) purchase of Whole Foods Market (WFM) , the Federal Trade Commission is investigating claims made against the e-commerce giant, saying it misleads customers about pricing discounts, Reuters reports.

The FTC is reviewing a complaint brought by Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group, which studied at least 1,000 products on Amazon's website in June, and concluded that the company placed reference prices on roughly 46% of the items.

Amazon's Discount Policy Is Being Investigated By The FTC

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods requires a wink of blessing from the Federal Trade Commission, but that might not be a done deal. Reuters is reporting that the FTC is taking a particular interest in how Jeff Bezos' online retailer prices, and discounts, its products. According to sources close to the probe, there is a suspicion that the company has offered misleading information to consumers during sale seasons.

FTC Said To Be Reviewing Amazon's "Deceptive" Pricing

The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into whether Amazon's discounts are as good as they seem.

As part of the FTC's review of Amazon's (AMZN) agreement to buy Whole Foods (WFM), the Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Amazon misleads customers about its pricing discounts, Reuters reports, citing a source close to the probe.

Amazon Discounts Are Misleading You, Consumer Group Says

The Federal Trade Commission reportedly is looking into Amazon's discount policy after a Consumer Watchdog complaint.

The US Federal Trade Commission is investigating charges that Amazon's pricing policy is misleading customers, according to a report by Reuters. That follows from a complaint by the Consumer Watchdog group, which examined 1,000 products being sold at a discount on the online retailer's site in June.

Antitrust Watchdog Investigates Amazon For Allegedly Lying About Deal Prices

The Federal Trade Commission just set its sights on Amazon’s deal pricing schemes, responding to complaints that the giant online retailer misleads customers with its discounts. The FTC’s investigation is part of its review of Amazon’s agreement to buy Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion.

Are Amazon's Price Too Good To Be True? The U.S. Government Wants To Find Out

As Amazon prepares to lock down its mega-merger with Whole Foods, one of its most controversial sales practices may be coming back to haunt it.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating claims that the online shopping giant misleads customers with the price comparisons it lists on its products, Reuters first reported.

The unofficial probe concerns the listed price on items, that retailers use to demonstrate how much their customers are supposedly saving.

Consumer Watchdog Warns Bill Pre-empting State Robot Car Laws Approved by House Commerce Committee Would Leave Dangerous Regulatory Void Threatening Highway Safety

SANTA MONICA, CA -- Consumer Watchdog warned that a bill approved today by the House Commerce Committee that would pre-empt state autonomous vehicle safety regulations would leave a regulatory void without meaningful safety protections.

“Pre-empting the states’ ability to fill the gap left by federal inaction on safety standards leaves us at the mercy of manufacturers as they use our public highways as their private laboratories however they wish with no safety protections at all,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director.

Amazon's Whole Foods Deal Under Scrutiny

US regulators will take more time to review Amazon's $13.7bn (£10.5bn) acquisition of Whole Foods after some groups have raised anti-trust concerns.

Democrats have asked authorities to consider how the deal might affect consumer choice, particularly in places with fewer food shopping options.
Whole Foods said in June it expected the deal to close in the second half of 2017 but it has warned investors that it could take until May 2018.
Many still expect the deal to go ahead.

FTC Looking Into Amazon Discount-Pricing Policy: Report

SAN FRANCISCO — The Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Amazon's discount-pricing policies misled consumers, according to a report today.

The probe comes on the heels of a complaint by advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which examined 1,000 products on the retailer's website and concluded 61% with list prices were overpriced, Reuters said.

The FTC, which is reviewing Amazon's proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, declined comment.

Amazon Slips: FTC Investigating Allegation of ‘Deceptive Discounting,’ Says Reuters

Amazon is being scrutinized by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over whether its discounts on goods are misleading, after a watchdog group complained, says Reuters, citing an unnamed source.

Shares of Amazon (AMZN) are down by $3.18 at $1,025.52, in late trading, after Reuters’s Diane Bartz and Jeffrey Dastin related after market close that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations “Amazon misleads customers about its pricing discounts,” citing a single unnamed source.

FTC Examining Allegations That Amazon Prices Are Misleading: Report

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating allegations that Amazon misleads customers about its prices and discounts, Reuters reported.

The probe comes as part of a review of the company’s proposed merger with Whole Foods

The FTC’s probe is reportedly the result of a complaint brought forth by Consumer Watchdog, an advocacy group. In the group’s analysis of 1,000 products on the website they found that 61 percent of the time, the reference or list price that Amazon used to show consumers how much money they were saving increased in a 90-day period.

Consumer Watchdog Calls for Immediate Congressional Hearings on Bipartisan Bill to Change Internet Law So Child Sex Trafficking Websites like Backpage.com Can Be Held Accountable

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on the House Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee to hold immediate hearings on a bill amending a key Internet law so websites like Backpage.com that facilitate child sex trafficking can be held accountable by victims and state attorneys general.

Push For Self-Driving Car Rules Overlooks Lack Of Federal Expertise In AI Tech

A House subcommittee approved critical legislation for the fast-developing driverless car movement this week that sets specific rules for how many such vehicles can be on U.S. roads and the federal government’s role in regulating them. While it would give companies developing the technology the national framework they want, it also raises questions over who is best-suited to ensure this cutting-edge technology is safe.

FTC Probing Allegations Of Amazon's Deceptive Discounting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As part of its review of Amazon's (AMZN.O) agreement to buy Whole Foods (WFM.O), the Federal Trade Commission is looking into allegations that Amazon misleads customers about its pricing discounts, according to a source close to the probe.

The FTC is probing a complaint brought by the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, which looked at some 1,000 products on Amazon's website in June and found that Amazon put reference prices, or list prices, on about 46 percent of them.

Google Aims To Personalize Mobile Search

Google wants to make its search experience on smartphones more personalized — by showing information based on users’ interests and what’s trending in their area.

The information will appear beneath the search bar on the Google app on Apple and Android devices (eventually, it will be included in Google mobile searches, not just the app). The company will pull information based on what the user searches across Gmail, Search, YouTube and other Google properties. It will also factor in what a user lists on Google calendar.

Report: Amazon BTS Shoppers Are Overpaying By 15%

Dive Brief:

Amazon’s prices changed hour-by-hour, state-by-state and shopper-by-shopper, according to a May analysis of online school supplies prices from Chrome deal-hunting extension Wikibuy. The extension searches other sites, including Walmart, Jet and eBay, and its price comparison tool pops up a potentially cheaper option, including tax, shipping and any coupons that apply for Chrome browser users. For the study, Wikibuy analyzed the prices of more than 200 back-to-school products over 30 days.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on California Representatives to Oppose Congressional Robot Car Legislation That Would Undermine California’s Safety Protections on Testing Self-Driving Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on California’s seven members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to block proposed federal legislation that would undo California’s ground-breaking safety regulations covering the testing of autonomous vehicles.

Critics Hit Amazon's Whole Foods Takeover

Antitrust and labor issues stir discontent; retail analysts skeptical

Amazon's plan to gobble up Whole Foods is causing indigestion on Capitol Hill and elsewhere as critics worry the plan would be too successful or, on the other hand, not successful enough.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), for one, thinks the merger would take too big a bite out of competition.

Don’t Fall for Amazon’s ‘Prime Day’

You might get a good deal now, but the company is gobbling up market share and bludgeoning competitors.

Today is Prime Day: Amazon’s bid to transform paying them $99 for an annual membership into a national holiday. The Internet oligarch is blanketing the Web with deals and enticements to encourage sign-ups. It even pitches this as a way to get a jump on holiday shopping—Amazon is literally selling Christmas in July.

Are The Amazon Prime Day Deals As Great As They Seem?

(NEWS 8/AP) —  Amazon is extending its annual "Prime Day" promotion to 30 hours this year.

For the third annual Prime Day, Amazon will offer discounts and other deals in an effort to boost sales during the slower summer months. The deals are open only to members of Amazon's $99-a-year Prime loyalty program, so Amazon typically gets more sign-ups, too.

Analysts expect Amazon-branded items to offer the best prices including the Fire Stick, Kindle and Echo.

Technology That Tracks Your Emotions In Stores And Accusations That Amazon Is Inflating Sale Prices

Amazon Exaggerations?

Consumers getting ready for Prime Day may be disappointed by accusations it’s exaggerating discounts, by advertising "before sale" prices that were inflated sometimes up to 70 percent.

A non-profit group called the Consumer Watchdog says it looked at hundreds of products sold there last month and found nearly 4 in 10 of the listed discounts were fake.

The group filed petitions with the California Attorney General, and has asked the FTC and Justice Department to look into this. It's also sparked a class action suit.

Amazon Accused Of Deceptive Pricing, Group Demands Halt To Whole Foods Deal

Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods should be put on hold until Amazon ends its “deceptive pricing practices,” a consumer group has demanded in a complaint to federal regulators.

Consumer Watchdog claims the e-commerce giant uses inflated “reference prices” next to real prices on product ads, misleading online shoppers into thinking they’re looking at a better deal than what’s actually on offer.

The reference prices “have no basis in reality,” Consumer Watchdog charged in its July 6 letter to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.

Federal Regulators Urged To Block Amazon's Whole Foods Purchase

A consumer group is urging federal regulators to block Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods Market until the online giant stops "deceptive pricing practices."

In a letter to the acting heads of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition, Consumer Watchdog repeated an earlier claim that Seattle-based Amazon "continues to deceive consumers by falsely leading them to believe they are getting larger discounts than is actually the case."

Amazon Is Still Inflating Discounts Despite New Name, Consumer Watchdog Says

In a bid to promote its deals to consumers, Amazon.com Inc. started displaying current discounts compared to their historic price tags — a strategy that it calls the “was” price.

The “was” price was introduced as the e-commerce giant faced legal challenges and mounting criticism for allegedly exaggerating discounts through its previous pricing strategy, which was based on “list” prices derived from manufacturers, vendors and competitors.

Consumer Watchdog Urges Congress to Let States Set Safety Standards for Autonomous Vehicles

As a House subcommittee considered more than a dozen bills proposing various federal standards for self-driving vehicles, the group Consumer Watchdog expressed concern that a federal proposal to pre-empt state safety regulations “would leave a regulatory void without meaningful safety protections.”

NHTSA Must Quickly Enact Enforceable Safety Standards for Robot Cars or States Must Move If Feds Fail to Do Their Job, Consumer Watchdog Tells “Automated Vehicles Symposium 2017”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promptly adopt enforceable federal safety standards covering self-driving autonomous vehicles and warned that if the federal efforts stall, states must act immediately to fill the void and protect consumer safety.

Amazon Slimes Public with Price Savings Exaggeration on Prime Day, Consumer Watchdog Says

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today warned consumers about Amazon’s deceptive pricing practices and said its dubious behavior means its big promotion on Tuesday should be called ‘Slime Day,” not “Prime Day.”

The nonprofit nonpartisan public interest group also called on antitrust authorities to block Amazon’s proposed $14 billion purchase of Whole Foods “until the online retailing giant formally consents to halt its deceptive pricing practices that falsely lead consumers to believe they are getting deals with discounted prices.”

Consumer Watchdog Calls on U.S. Antitrust Authorities to Act Against Google’s Anti-Competitive Practices After European Commission Hits Internet Giant with Record $2.7 Billion Antitrust Fine

SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on U.S. antitrust regulators to act against Google’s anti-competitive practices in the wake of the European Commission’s record $2.7 billion fine against Google for violating antitrust law and illegally favoring its comparison shopping service over competitors in its search results.

The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to bring antitrust charges against Google for unfairly favoring its own services in the Android operating system used on mobile devices.

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Congress to Ensure Safety Standards for Robot Cars

SANTA MONICA, CA -- Consumer Watchdog today called on Congress to ensure the adoption of federal safety standards to cover self-driving autonomous vehicles and warned that proposed House legislation that would pre-empt state safety regulations “would leave a regulatory void without meaningful safety protections.”

In a formal statement filed with the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection for its hearing Tuesday on self-driving legislation, Consumer Watchdog’s John M. Simpson warned:

Will Google and Big Tech End Child Sex Trafficking Or Keep Fighting for Their Legal Shield?

In the documentary “I am Jane Doe,” which hits Netflix this weekend, a mother Nacole S. talks about how her daughter was turned into a child prostitute for 108 days by a website, Backpage.com, that has legal immunity even though it helped pimps traffick in children by crafting ads and makes hundreds of millions of dollars doing it. That’s according to a US Senate report on the topic, not the National Enquirer.

Report Shows How Google Funded Defense of Child Sex Trafficking Hub

SANTA MONICA, CA – A coalition of anti-child sex trafficking and public interest groups, and the mother of a trafficking victim, today released a report detailing how a Google-funded campaign protects a law that shields a notorious hub of child sex-trafficking, Backpage.com, from any accountability for its activities. Google and the organizations it funds purport to be protecting free speech on the Internet.