75 Marketing Trends found for Regulation / USA


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US Telecoms Law to be Overhauled to Incorporate the Web

Back in 1996 when the web was known as 'The Information Super Highway' and seen as the sole preserve of academics and nerdish geeks, Congress saw no need to make anything other than a passing reference to the new-fangled fad when it reviewed the US Communications Act. Fourteen years later two senior Democrat lawmakers - Senator John D Rockefeller [West Virginia] and Representative Henry A Waxman [California] aim to drag the bill kicking and screaming into the age of Facebook, Google and the iPad. Among the issues the lawmaking duo will address are ...

[Estimated timeframe:June 2010-onward]

 ... how the Communications Act meets the current needs of of the three parties involved: the US telecommunications industry, the Federal Communications Commission and the general public. This is the resultant sequential scenario:

  • The present uncertainties came under the spotlight in April when a federal appeals court ruled that the FCC had overstepped its authority in applying a segment of the Act to an internet service provider.
     
  • Earlier this month the court's ruling provoked the FCC into introducing a plan to reclassify broadband internet service, currently classified as an 'information service' and therefore lightly regulated.
     
  • Under the change, broadband provision would be classified as a telecommunications service, analogous to a standard phone service, and bringing it under the jurisdiction of the FCC.
     
  • The reclassification would give the Commission the authority to implement portions of its recently released National Broadband Plan, as well as to enforce net neutrality, the concept that internet service providers must provide consumers with equal access to all types of content and applications.
     
  • Internet service providers have broadly opposed the reclassification, arguing that the FCC is already legally empowered to ensure fair competition among internet service providers. ISPs also are leery because the reclassification could give the FCC. the authority to regulate rates charged to consumers.
     
  • Telecommunications firms point out that a lack of legislation to date has not stifled competition among internet companies.

Nevertheless, AT&T svp James Cicconi declared that hiscompany welcomed the Congressional review. “The FCC’s legal authority should be decided by the Congress itself, and not by applying to the internet a set of onerous rules designed for a different technology, a different situation, and a different era,” he said.

Consumer bodies also welcomed the news. “The world has changed considerably since 1996,” astutely observed Gigi B Sohn, president and co-founder of the Public Knowledge group.

 


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: NYtimes.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5204

US Lawmaker Rockefeller Introduces Online Shopping Bill

Leading lawmaker and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Jay Rockefeller (Democrat-West Virginia), has proposed a new bill - the "Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act" - that would ban companies from enrolling consumers in paid-subscription programs unless the consumers entered their credit card numbers and agreed to the program. The measure, if adopted, would also restrict online companies' ability to use "negative options," which often involves offering people free trials and then charging them unless they cancel their accounts within a short time frame.

[Estimated timeframe:2010-onward]

Senator Rockefeller's proposal grows out of a year-long investigation into "data pass" marketing, which occurs when online merchants forward consumers' credit card data to post-transaction companies that then enroll consumers in paid programs.

Since the probe began, the three major post-transaction companies -- Webloyalty, Affinion and Vertrue -- have revised their practices. They now require consumers to re-enter all 16 digits of their credit cards to enroll in discount clubs after making purchases. Visa also recently said it will require consumers to re-enter their credit card numbers online before processing payments.

Webloyalty, Affinion and Vertrue target consumers immediately after they have made purchases on online retail sites like Fandango by sending pop-up ads that offer discounts. In the past, people who clicked on the pop-ups landed on a site where they could enroll in coupon programs simply by providing their email address and clicking a 'yes' button.

The ecommerce sites then shared financial information with the post-transaction companies, which would charge consumers monthly fees ranging up to $20. Many Web users said they did not realize the companies were going to charge their credit cards.

When these consumers complained, the companies attempted to refund as little money as possible through "refund mitigation" programs, according to a Commerce Committee report issued on Wednesday. For instance, the post-transaction would agree to cancel users' accounts, but would balk at refunding fees already paid, according to the report.

"The three companies all appear to have been following the same basic business plan: improperly charge consumers' credit cards for services the companies knew consumers did not intend to purchase and were not using, and then refund as small a portion of this money as possible after consumers discovered the charges," the report states.


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5195

Transatlantic Probe into Google 'Data-Harvesting' Practices

Although it is not known if they acted in concert, German and US authorities this week united against Google following the latter's admission it had recorded communications sent over unsecured wireless networks in people’s homes. Privacy campaigners condemned the action as "one of the most massive surveillance incidents by a private corporation that has ever occurred”. German commissioner for data protection Peter Schaar has demanded a "detailed probe", while in the US the Federal Trade Commission is expected to launch an inquiry.

[Estimated timeframe:Q3 2010 onward]

Commissioner Schaar is unconvinced by Google's claim that the collection of data was an accident, describing the incident as “highly unusual”.

Continued Schaar: “One of the largest companies in the world, the market leader on the internet, simply disobeyed normal rules in the development and usage of software.”

Marc Rotenberg, leader of the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Centre in Washington DC is of like mind. “It is unprecedented vacuuming of WiFi data by a private company. Can you imagine what would happen if a German corporation was sending cars through Washington sucking up all this information?”

In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office said that Google appeared to have breached the Data Protection Act.

Hands aloft in pious innocence, the Mountain View colossus claimed it it had been using a fleet of camera-equipped Street View vehicles, which photograph the group’s imaging services, and had been at the same time using the cars to assemble a database of electronic WiFi addresses intended to improve the functioning of its maps and other location services.

It goes without saying, of course, that this monumental goof wasn't the responsibility of Google's Top Brass. Nosirree, the fault lay down the line, pinned well and truly on the minions!

The project leaders, it seems, overlooked that the vehicles were also recording snippets of activity on adjacent WiFi networks.

“We didn’t want to collect this data in the first place and we would like to destroy it as soon as possible,” said Google’s abject PR hack Peter Barron. The data in question had never been available to outsiders, he insisted.

It is unlikely his explanation will satisfy privacy authorities on either side of the Atlantic and a prolonged investigation seems inevitable. Probably followed by legislation.


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5194

Alcohol Marketing Online: Consumer Watchdogs Seek FTC Probe

There is increasing concern among US consumer bodies that alcohol vendors online have resorted to inappropriate tactics to target the under-21 market via video games and social media. Campaigners are urging both the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys-general to investigate whether liquor companies are using behavioral targeting techniques - including the profiling of web users - to reach users who aren't yet legally permitted to drink.

[Estimated timeframe:2010-onward]

A report co-authored by university professor Kathryn Montgomery, Center for Digital Democracy director Jeff Chester, and Berkeley Media Studies Group's Lori Dorfman, calls on the FTC to investigate the digital marketing techniques used by alcohol companies.

Urges the report: "The FTC and other regulators need to determine whether alcohol beverage ad targeting is reaching specific young people and their networks, providing a complete picture of the industry's online data collection practices - including whether their privacy policies are accurate."

David Jernigan, associate professor at Baltimore's famed Johns Hopkins Hospital, says the study raises troubling issues. "Internet marketing immerses the audience in a world that has a single message - and the message in this case is: It's good to drink."

It's a theme Jernigan believes should be independently challenged: "We need the FTC to use its power and, failing that, for the state attorneys general to use their power to start inquiring about what the industry is doing."

Meantime, the booze industry's loins are girded to contest this latest challenge to its members' constitutional right to screw a few billion more bucks from the US public.

Self-regulatory group The Distilled Spirits Council of the US insists that its member companies "adhere to a rigorous set of content and placement guidelines for advertising and marketing materials in all media including online and digital communications channels."

It also claims that the industry's "longstanding commitment to responsible advertising regardless of the medium has been commended by the FTC and industry watchdogs."


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5188

US Newspaper Industry Lobbies for Copyright on 'Hot News'

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal by academic James Boyle, Professor of Law at Duke University Law School, US newspapers are lobbying the Federal Trade Commission for a new intellectual property right over so-called “hot news.” It is a legal right that extends far beyond copyright law to cover the facts of the news themselves - for as long as the story has immediate currency. European equivalents have also been proposed. 

[Estimated timeframe:2010 onward]

According to Professor Boyle: "The right has existed in US state common law since a 1918 case called International New Services v. Associated Press. The British government did not like the sceptical coverage of the First World War by US newspapers owned by Randolph Hearst (the real life Citizen Kane). It banned them from using the transatlantic cables to report the news – an early 20th century version of the Great Firewall of China. In the process, the British government conveyed an effective monopoly of European coverage on the Associated Press."

The Prof, however, has a healthy cynical take on this latest development: "Fast forward 90 years. The newspaper industry is struggling in the online world. You might think that it is not struggling because its content is being illicitly copied but because it has no good business model to make money off entirely licit, legal uses of its content. The momentary eyeball tracks across news pages just do not translate into enough subscriptions, advertisement clicks, or classified ad sales. You would be right."

He continues: "So the new right would have no effect on the real problem newspapers face. And it would give them almost no protection that they do not already have either through law or technology. What would it do? It would cast a pall of fear over free speech. Is my blog or twitter feed allowed to say that there has been an earthquake or that some political scandal has erupted? Or must I buy a license to say so? After all, in the new world bloggers are “competitors” as news sources.

"In fact, the right would produce all kinds of effects the newspapers have not thought about. They are assuming that this new right will only be wielded by them. Not so. Think of political activists who break a story – for example the young conservative filmmakers who produced devastating information on the operation of the organization ACORN. They are a news source. They might think it was a great idea selectively to decide which news organizations got to report that story, at least as long as it was “hot.” Does that sound attractive? I think not.

"And then think of the difficulties of proof, the possibility of chilling of speech by wrongly claiming to be its source. Implementation would be a nightmare.
So there it is. Our next bad idea. In some ways it shares many characteristics with other recent expansions of intellectual property law. It is unsupported by data and it has unintended and anti-competitive consequences. The sad difference is that newspapers truly do face a wrenching future and the debate over how to pay for high quality investigative journalism is an important one. Unfortunately, the hot news right would do nothing to help solve the real problems newspapers face.

"Instead, it would do much to impede the benign effects that the internet has on news gathering, and distribution and to chill the social media that will surely be part of the marketplace of ideas in the future. The negative effects of a new legal monopoly without even the benefits to the current market incumbents! Which is what makes the proposal all the more poignant."


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5185

Battle Lines Drawn for Future Control of US Broadband

For the past fifteen years the US broadband industry - regulators, ISPs, cable companies and other giants - have contested control of America's biggest exploitable wealth vein since California, 1848. And, predicts the Financial Times: "One of the most important industries of the information age is set for at least a half-decade more in the netherworld of arcane legal wrangling ..."

[Estimated timeframe:2010 - 2015]

Having not-so-quietly simmered during the eight years of the Bush vacuum, the issue of who controls what is about to boil over. Last week Julius Genachowski, the Obama-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tore-up the rulebook of the past eight years.

He proposed a stricter regime, based on that originally created to control the might of America's monopoly telephone networks – although he promised not to apply some of its more stringent rules.In essence an iron fist in a velvet glove.
 
Unsurprisingly, the US broadband companies  - many of whom are also telcos - are unenthused by proposed legislation that would limit their quasi-monopolistic powers.

But the FCC chairman insists he wants to cherry-pick the parts of the old system that will keep networks open: although it's legally questionable as to whether he can separate these pieces from the price controls and other rules that were also essential components of the old regime.

Telecoms colossus Comcast over-reacted to Genachowski's move, provoking a court wrangle that promises to be as long and as bitter as that which followed the 1996 Telecom Act.

Having earlier proposed a set of “network neutrality” rules, Genachowski has sown distrust among network companies - and, argues the Financial Times, "if the real endgame all along has been to angle for legislation, the current political realities in Washington make success unlikely."

Continues the FT's thesis: "The result is likely to be a continuation of the muddle-through that has got the industry this far. Dark warnings that legal uncertainty would cause broadband investment to dry up have proved overly alarmist in the past, and are likely to do so now as well. It is not a disaster, perhaps – but hardly the solid foundation for the modern networked economy that was one of the big promises of the Obama campaign."


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5183

Congress to Mull New Tough Online Privacy Guidelines

US Congressman Rick Boucher (Democrat-Virginia) will today unveil a draft of a new proposal to regulate online behavioral targeting. Speaking yesterday at a meeting of business-to-business trade body American Business Media, Boucher said his draft bill requires - among other things - that web publishers, advertisers and other commercial entities that collect surfers' data must notify them accordingly and obtain their consent. The proposal likewise requires publishers ... 

 

[Estimated timeframe:2011-onward]

... that collect data in order to serve ads on their own sites allow consumers to opt out of the targeting. Ad networks that track users across a variety of sites would also have to obtain users' opt-in consent, unless the networks permit people to access and revise their profiles  - a facility that web giants Yahoo and Google already offer.

 The bill also will also include provisions that require mobile phone users' consent before their location is shared.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is predictably unenthused at Rep. Boucher's bill, voicing its hope that any proposals "would recognize a strong first-party carve out from behavioral advertising restrictions, just as the FTC's own principles and the cross industry principles do."

Equally predictably, privacy advocates complain the bill does not go are enough. Cavils Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD): "The notice-and-choice model doesn't work. He slammed the draft bill for appearing to endorse the same basic notification and opt-out framework as current self-regulatory standards.

The CDD - along with ten kindred organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumers Union and the World Privacy Forum -- sent a joint letter to Congress on Monday urging it to enact sweeping online privacy protections.

Among the trio's proposals is that websites and ad networks should be able to use data about consumers for only 24 hours after collection unless they obtain users' opt-in consent.


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5166

FCC Turns to Congress to Regain Internet Authority

Following a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the Federal Communications Commission “lacked any statutorily mandated responsibility” to impose its net neutrality rules on the Internet, the regulator is likely to turn to Congress to establish its mandate over the provision of internet service. The decision “means there are no protections in the law for consumers’ broadband services,” says Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, a digital rights group that brought Comcast’s slowing of BitTorrent traffic to the attention of the FCC.

[Estimated timeframe:Q3 2010 -2011]

Ms Sohn is concerned that: “Companies selling internet access are free to play favorites with content on their networks, to throttle certain applications or simply block others."

The court’s ruling that the FCC lacks authority to regulate the web may slow the Obama administration’s ambitious national broadband plan, which seeks over the next decade to connect 100 million households with broadband capability of at least 100 megabits .

It may also impede the introduction of truth-in-advertising rules for ISPs.

The agency’s push for new legislation is likely to meet with vehement opposition from the hitherto unregulated ISP bloc, comprising such muscular titans as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and AOL, to say nothing of web content-providers Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon.

Specifically, the FCC will ask Representative Edward Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts) and other allies on Capitol Hill for regulatory powers that would allow the agency to issue rules pertaining to “net neutrality” - a provision that seeks to guard against government or ISP restrictions on webites and platforms. Markey is a strong proponent of an open and unencumbered web.

The FCC also wants the legislation to empower it to require ISPs to be more transparent in letting customers know what actual broadband speeds they’re working with at any given time.

Moreover, the agency is asking lawmakers to allow it to redirect money from the Universal Service Fund - an FCC-created reserve for the advancement of universal service - to the deployment of broadband service.
 


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: Kiplinger.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5160

America's IAB Trials Targeted Ad Warning

With a view to fending-off possible privacy legislation the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Network Advertising Initiative have jointly issued technical specifications for new behavioral targeting icons. The move is the online industry's  attempt to demonstrate that it has both the will and the ability to protect consumers' privacy.  The specs spell out how ad networks and other companies can use metadata tags that include details about who served particular ads and how to opt out of behavioral targeting.

[Estimated timeframe:2010-onward]

According to Mike Zaneis, the IAB's vp of public policy, the release of technical specs marks a major step toward the industry-wide goal of providing consumers with clear notice of targeting techniques.

"We are beginning to revolutionize the way data is delivered to consumers for behavioral advertising," he says. "The entire industry will now provide real-time in-ad notice to consumers."


Although the industry groups have not yet released creative specs for the icons, they are expected to recommend that the warnings appear in the upper right-hand corner of ads. They will spell out how ad networks and other companies can use metadata tags that include details about who served particular ads and how to opt out of behavioral targeting.


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: MediaPost.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5138

Google, eBay, Academics Rap US Government's Unfettered Access to Online Data

The Digital Due Process coalition, a new body set up by Google and eBay with support from academics, privacy groups and other technology companies, is to lobby the US government to curtail its currently unimpeded access to private online data. This is currently controlled under legislation enacted in 1986 - when the internet was little more than a twinkle in the eye of its founding father, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The coalition seeks to re-write the twenty-four year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act, claiming it to be "a patchwork of confusing standards that have been interpreted inconsistently by the courts".

[Estimated timeframe:April 2010-onward]

The coalition is demanding, among other issues, that court warrants be obtained before emails and texts are handed over to law enforcement agencies. It also seeks more protection of data stored online and mobile tracking information.

Speaking to BBC News, Richard Salgado, Google's senior counsel for law enforcement and information security said: "It is not surprising that a law written in 1986 didn't foresee the privacy protections we need some twenty-five years later."

As an example of the current situation, Salgado cites the right of law enforcement agencies to gain access to some email information, instant messages, and other data stored online via simple subpoenas, not court-ordered warrants.

The coalition is demanding that posession of a court warrant is mandatory before internet providers are compelled to hand over online information - just as a warrant is required for a physical search of a suspect's computer or filing cabinets.

DDP is also calling for similar protection before mobile carriers turn over tracking information on their customers.

It also demands that courts ensure that real-time information like texts and instant messages are relevant to an investigation.

Says The Center for Democracy and Technology's Jim Dempsey:"The law needs to be clear that the same standard applies to email and documents stored with a service provider, while at the same time be flexible enough to meet law enforcement needs."


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: BBC.co.uk
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5117



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