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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 02/01/2013

FTC speaks up on mobile privacy as chairman gets set to step down #thecircuit

FTC releases mobile privacy report: Mobile privacy guidelines released Friday by the Federal Trade Commission outline the agency’s recommendations for how best to inform consumers about how mobile apps collect and use personal information.

The FTC suggestions on improving data disclosure are aimed at major players in the industry, from app developers and advertising networks to the giant tech companies that distribute the apps, such as Apple, Google and Facebook.

In a news conference Friday, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said that the FTC report should be considered separate but “complementary” to a forthcoming report based on current discussions at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Leibowitz, who has made privacy a focus during his time as FTC chairman, said this will likely be his last public announcement before he steps down as chairman on Feb. 15.

Path settles with the FTC: In conjunction with its mobile privacy guidelines, the FTC also announced that it had settled with the social network Path on charges that the company deceived its users and collected contact information without authorization.

The complaint against the company also alleges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA); Path has agreed to pay $800,000 in fines for gathering information on around 3,000 children, Leibowitz said.

In a statement on its company blog, Path said that it hopes other developers can learn from its missteps.

Google submits proposal to European authorities: Google has submitted a settlement proposal to the European Commission in response to E.U. concerns about its business practices, Reuters reported.

The E.U.’s competition commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, confirmed that Google submission, Bloomberg reported, and said that officials would now begin to examine the proposal.

Va. senate panel mulls bills on texting while driving: A Virginia Senate panel will debate bills that increase the penalties drivers would face if caught sending text messages while behind the wheel, the Associated Press reported.

One bill would make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning that police could stop drivers for the behavior, rather than simply fining them when pulled over for other offenses. Other bills, the report said, would redefine the practice as “reckless driving,” which could result in jail time.

Obama honors IBM scientists: Three IBM scientists will be awarded the National Medal of Technology Friday, in a ceremony hosted by President Obama.

The scientists — Jim Wynne, Rangaswamy Srinivasan and Samuel Blum — are credited with the discovery of a form of laser surgery that has contributed to the technology used for LASIK and PRK eye surgery.

Wynne, still an employee at IBM, will accept the medal. Srinivasan and Blum have since retired from the company; Blum passed away last month at the age of 92.

By  |  12:45 PM ET, 02/01/2013

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