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FTC Requests Data from Big Tech Companies: ‘Too much about this industry remains dangerously opaque’

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ordered nine social media and internet companies on Monday to provide data about how they track Americans’ online activities and how they use that data.

Included in the nine companies are Amazon.com, Facebook, WhatsApp, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Discord Inc. and TikTok owner ByteDance, according to the Wall Street Journal. The order was approved by a 4-1 majority.

“We’re working, as we always do, to ensure the FTC has all the information it needs to understand how Twitter operates its services,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Journal.

The companies have been given 45 days to comply. Legally, the FTC has authority to request the information and enforce policies against unfair business activities but ordering the companies to turn over the data cannot be enforced by law and will not result in any immediate consequence if the companies do not oblige.

In a joint statement, FTC Commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Slaughter and Christine Wilson said that the business models of the companies have shifted over time “from supporting users’ activities to monetizing them.”

“Never before has there been an industry capable of surveilling and monetizing so much of our personal lives. Social media and video streaming companies now follow users everywhere through apps on their always-present mobile devices. This constant access allows these firms to monitor where users go, the people with whom they interact, and what they are doing,” the statement said.

“But to what end?” they continued. “Too much about this industry remains dangerously opaque.”

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Chinese Spy Balloon: Tensions rise between the U.S. and China

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A strange object was spotted Wednesday over Billings Montana. The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the strange object was, in fact, a Chinese spy balloon. According to a report from KPAX, a western Montana news outlet, the balloon had been on the governments radar for days.

On Friday, the Chinese government released a statement saying that the balloon spotted in Billings is a “civilian airship” that’s sole purpose is used to collect research on weather and that it had just blown off course. The balloon was not shot down by orders of the Pentagon due to the risk of falling debris injuring people on the ground.

Sara Carter, who has spoken frequently on the Chinese government’s threat and expansion to the West, stated on Twitter that the United States has failed to stop China from purchasing land near military installations, vital agricultural land, as well as, allowing Chinese linked companies, such as Huawei, to install technology in cellular towers. Those cellular towers are located in Montana, along side more than 150 ICBM nuclear silos.

China said, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.” Majeure meaning that it was out of there control. It blew off course due to limited “self-steering” capabilities according the Ministry. The ministry also stated that the balloon, “deviated far from its planned course.”

This incident is adding fuel to the fire of what is already a tense relationship between the worlds two largest economies. China already lays claim to approximately 80% of the South China Sea, and is seeking full control over Taiwan after assuming full control of Hong Kong. China’s belt and road initiative has invested copious amounts of money into building infrastructure in other countries and uses it as economic blackmail. China’s transportation of fentanyl into Mexico is yet again another example of how they are seeking to damage the US.

Is this just a weather ballon that blew off course? US officials at the White House seem to be unconvinced and will continue to monitor the balloon, as reported.

UPDATED: Statement from the Pentagon was jaw dropping when a reporter asked if the public has a right to know about Beijing’s balloon.

“The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is,” a DOD official responded.

 

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