OnGuard Online Blog

Milking Cookies: The FTC’s $22.5 Million Settlement with Google

There’s been a lot of talk about breaking records these past few weeks. But here’s one you won’t see on the sports pages: the FTC’s $22.5 million settlement with Google, the largest civil penalty ever against a single defendant. The penalty stems from FTC charges that Google didn’t give users of Apple’s Safari Internet browser the straight story about the use of tracking cookies. That, says the FTC, violated the terms of Google’s 2011 privacy settlement.

First, some background on the original case. Last year, the FTC sued Google for violations stemming from the roll-out of Google’s Buzz network. Among other things, the FTC said Google assured Gmail users it wouldn’t use their information for any purpose other than to provide email service, but then didn’t honor that promise. The result: an order mandating comprehensive privacy protections for consumers and civil penalties if Google didn’t live up to the terms of the settlement.

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

Cyberbullying: What You Can Do

These days, bullying doesn’t just happen in the schoolyard. Bullying has followed kids into cyberspace as they spend more time online and on their phones. Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through emails, text messages, online games, or social networking sites. It might involve sending mean messages or posting embarrassing photos. But there’s something you can do.

On August 15, 2012 the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention will host a webinar, Cyberbullying: What You Can Do. Join the webinar to hear partners from the Federal Trade Commission and the National Crime Prevention Council discuss how schools, parents, and communities can all work to help prevent cyberbullying.

Identity Theft: What To Do, What To Know

Do you know what to do if your identity is stolen?  What steps can you take to protect your identity?  Knowing what to do is important because an identity thief can hijack your tax refund, alter your medical records, prevent you from getting credit or a job, and even borrow money in your child's name.

Lottery Fraud: If You Have To Pay, You Didn’t Win

The pitch is simple. You receive a call from a foreign lottery announcing that you have won money, a car and other prizes. The caller tells you that you entered a contest: a form you submitted in the mail, or on the internet, or while shopping. You have won, but you must pay taxes, insurance and other up-front fees in order to get your prize into the United States. Despite several payments totaling thousands of dollars, you never receive the prizes promised to you.

Blog Topic: Avoid Scams

Tips for Yahoo! Users

In light of recent news that a Yahoo! service was hacked and some 400,000 usernames and passwords for Yahoo! and other companies were stolen, OnGuardOnline.gov offers the following tips:

An Internet Knock-off

Thanks to some malware that’s been around since last year, but that the FBI believes is still affecting more than 60,000 computers in the U.S., some people could find out on Monday that they no longer have internet access. If that happens, you’ll need to get help from your service provider to get back online.

Got a Video Game System? Then You’ve Got Parental Controls

If you’ve got kids, it’s likely you also have video games — played on a game console, like an Xbox, Wii, or PlayStation, or on a handheld gaming device.

If so, there’s something else you have: parental controls. They’re already built into many game systems. You just have to use them. Parental controls help you make sure your kids play according to your rules, whether it’s limiting which kinds of games they can play or keeping them from accessing online features.

To Forward or Not to Forward

That is the question. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions we hear from OnGuardOnline.gov visitors.

Email etiquette is important – not only for the sake of your personal and professional relationships, but for your computer’s security, too. Here are a few tips to help:
 

How Can You Help Older Americans Avoid Fraud? Talk About It.

Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day to learn the signs of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Yesterday, I participated in a day-long symposium at the White House on the role that financial exploitation plays in the wider problem of elder abuse.

Lessons from a Controversial App

In the mood for love, or just after a one-night stand? [This app] puts you in control! Reveal the hottest nightspots, who’s in them, and how to reach them . . .”

“Browse photos of lovely local ladies and tap their thumbnail to find out more about them.”

“[This app] is a revolutionary new city scanner app than [sic] turns your town into a dating paradise!”

- The pitch from a controversial app

Many people join online dating services. But recently, a controversial mobile app created profiles of men and women, many of whom didn’t know their information – including their location – was being shared by an app advertised as a “dating paradise” for finding “love.” The app created profiles of these men and women by collecting information that was publicly available through foursquare and Facebook – like location, photos, and contact information -- and presenting it in a context that many people found surprising, and even disturbing. Users of the app were able to scan their surrounding area to view the profiles of men and women who were nearby, even though many of those men and women never signed-up to be a part of the service. 

Blog Topic: Be Smart Online

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