Watchdog group claims smart toys are spying on kids


Some people consider dolls creepy enough, but what if that deceptively cute toy was listening to everything you said and, worse yet, letting creeps speak through it? According to The Center for Digital Democracy, a pair of smart toys designed to engage with children in new and entertaining ways are rife with security and privacy holes. The watchdog group was so concerned, they filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Dec. 6 (you can read the full complaint here). A similar one was also filed in Europe by the Norwegian Consumer Council. SEE ALSO: Microsoft's Home Hub aims to turn the PC into an Amazon Echo "This complaint concerns toys that spy," reads the complaint, which claims the Genesis Toys' My Friend Cayla and i-QUE Intelligent Robot can record and collect private conversations and offer no limitations on the collection and use of personal information.

FTC warns 'romance scams' are on the rise - and they cost victims $143 million last year

Daily Mail - Science & tech

You may want to use some extra caution. A new notice released Tuesday by the Federal Trade Commission highlights a surge in'romance scams,' or scenarios where scammers trick love-lusting internet users into sending them money, only to later disappear. The scams cost victims an astonishing $143 million in 2018, up from $33 million the previous year and making it the most costly type of consumer fraud reported to the FTC. A new notice from the Federal Trade Commission highlights a surge in'romance scams,' or scenarios where scammers trick love-lusting internet users into sending them money Romance scams, where criminals create phony profiles to trick love-lusting victims into sending them money, are on the rise. To avoid falling prey, here's what you can do: These romance scams typically involve a user creating a phony profile and approaching someone via a dating app or website.

Net neutrality activists, state officials are taking the FCC to court. Here's how they'll argue the case.

Washington Post - Technology News

Opponents of the Federal Communications Commission have outlined their chief arguments on net neutrality to a federal appeals court in Washington, in hopes of undoing the FCC's move last year to repeal its own rules for Internet service providers. The legal briefs reflect a widening front in the multipronged campaign by consumer groups and tech companies to rescue the ISP regulations, which originally barred providers from blocking websites or slowing them. With the FCC's changes, Internet providers may legally manipulate Internet traffic as it travels over their infrastructure, as long as they disclose their practices to consumers. The FCC's decision last year to repeal the rules was "arbitrary and capricious," said officials from the state of New York, the California Public Utilities Commission and others in court documents Monday -- asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to overrule the agency. The FCC was too credulous in accepting industry promises "to refrain from harmful practices," the officials said, "notwithstanding substantial record evidence showing that [Internet] providers have abused and will abuse their gatekeeper roles in ways that harm consumers and threaten public safety."

Woman accused of stealing from online dating matches has long history of fraud, officials say

Los Angeles Times

A woman accused of "capitalizing on her physical attraction" to steal the identities of people she met on dating and home rental websites will face a judge Wednesday after she was arrested at a luxury hotel in Santa Barbara, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Maria Christina Johnson, 43, is believed to have dated or rented from her victims to gain access to their homes, where she'd scavenged through their belongings to obtain enough personal information to open new lines of credit without their knowledge, authorities said. Johnson -- also known as Maria Hendricks, Gia Hendricks, Maria Christina Gia and Maria Hainka -- has been arrested and charged multiple times before for various forms of fraud, identity theft and burglary before, according to a statement from the sheriff's department. After she successfully assumed an identity, investigators say, she moved into high-end hotels and charged thousands of dollars of goods and services to her victims, even attempting to purchase a car at one point, authorities said. By the time she was arrested as a guest of a luxury, beachside coastal resort in Santa Barbara on Thursday, investigators estimated Johnson, who lists her occupation as a dog trainer, had spent more than 250,000 of her victims' funds.

Survive April Fools' Day in Australia with this handy prank guide


Like clockwork every year, April Fools' arrives and the Internet is saturated with a gluttony of jokes from people trying to take advantage of the less fortunate. For most, it is the worst day of the year. For companies, it is the only day they get to try and be funny. From Virgin's kids class to burrito dating apps, you can bet that a few of the pranks rolling out this year are as predictable as ever. Then we heard about the island where you can escape from Donald Trump, and it gave us hope for creativity and the future of humans.