Sprint Calls Out AT&T Over ‘False’ 5G Claims

Next-generation 5G wireless technology continues to get a lot of attention (and hype) — notably as an enhanced distribution channel for mobile video entertainment.

AT&T and Verizon have been among the first wireless carriers offering 5G networks in the country. AT&T last December said it become the first telecom in the United States offering 5G wireless service over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.

Indeed, consumer awareness of the fifth-generation wireless technology successor has reached mainstream, according to new data from The NPD Group.

Yet, 5G is still more marketing than reality. Availability of 5G-compatible phones to consumers might occur by the end of the year — with mainstream usage on par with 4G LTE years away, according to analysts.

That’s why Sprint is calling foul on AT&T regarding what it claims are false advertising and deceptive acts by the corporate parent to WarnerMedia to confuse consumers.

Sprint, which claims to have 54.5 million subscribers and is attempting merge with T-Mobile, took out a full-page ad in the March 10 edition of The New York Times accusing AT&T of allegedly deceiving consumers into believing that their existing 4G LTE network operates on a much-coveted and highly anticipated 5G network.

A recent survey commissioned by Sprint found 54% of consumers mistakenly believed, based on AT&T’s claims, that the company’s 5G E network is the same as or better than a true 5G network. Another 43% of consumers wrongly believed that if they were to purchase an AT&T phone today, it would be capable of running on a 5G network.

“AT&T is not offering its customers 5G but is delighted by the confusion they’ve caused with their deceptive ‘5G E’ marketing and attempt to convince consumers that they’ve already won the 5G race,” David Tovar, SVP, corporate communications, at Sprint said in a statement. “We’re not standing for this kind of deception, and neither should consumers.”

Indeed, Sprint filed a federal lawsuit asking that AT&T’s ads be stopped.

“Every carrier – every company – should tell consumers the truth and be held accountable for the promises they make,” Tovar said.

An AT&T representative wasn’t immediately available for comment.

 

 

 

 

Report: Facebook Gave Netflix and Others Access to Personal User Data

Facebook reportedly gave tech companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft and music streaming service Spotify, secret access to personal user data — despite claims to the contrary by founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a Dec. 18 story, The New York Times — citing internal documents and interviews with staffers — reported that Facebook allegedly gave Netflix the ability to view Facebook users’ private text messages, while affording Microsoft’s Bing search engine access to Facebook users’ names and other information without their consent.

Indeed, beginning in 2013, Netflix enabled subscribers to recommend movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends through the latter’s Messenger platform. The campaign was designed to upgrade Netflix’s social media status despite some privacy concerns.

A provision in user privacy guidelines mandated in 2011 by the Federal Trade Commission recognizes Facebook’s “service providers” — such as Netflix — as an extension of the company, thereby allowing them easier pathways to share user data.

Netflix, which claims it wasn’t aware of the provision, said it ended the “Netflix Social” option in 2015.

“It was never that popular,” the SVOD pioneer said in a statement to The Wrap. “At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook or ask for the ability to do so.”

Regardless, the Times story underscores the value personal data has to marketers reflecting consumer habits in the digital age. It also exposes how indifferent Facebook has been to manipulating user data for financial gain. The revelation would appear to undermine Congressional testimony in April by Zuckerberg that Facebook users remain in control of their personal data.

That testimony came following disclosure the social media giant had given access to user data of 87 million Facebook members to Cambridge Analytica, the British consulting firm accused of manipulating user data to benefit President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Facebook contends it has operated in accordance with its own and federal user privacy guidelines.

“We know we’ve got work to do to regain people’s trust,” Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, told the Times. “Protecting people’s information requires stronger teams, better technology and clearer policies, and that’s where we’ve been focused for most of 2018.”

Facebook Loses $37 Billion in Value Following Data Privacy Scandal

Facebook March 19 saw its market cap plummet $37 billion after media reports said the social media behemoth violated privacy rules selling user information to a third-party company active in the 2016 presidential election.

Specifically, The New York Times reported Facebook sold personal information of about 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica, a conservative London-based consulting firm that combines data mining and data analysis to “change audience behavior” for the electoral process.

Facebook, which became aware of the data breach in 2015, according to the Times, has been under pressure to do more about the spread of politically-motivated fake news posts during the election.

Last November, the paper reported that many of the posts on Facebook had been paid for by Russian operatives seeking to disrupt the electoral process in favor of Donald Trump.

“America, we have a problem,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said at the time. “We basically have the brightest minds of our tech community here and Russia was able to weaponize your platforms to divide us, to dupe us and to discredit democracy.”

Now, members of Congress want to grill Facebook and other tech companies about data security.

Lawmakers Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Kennedy (R-LA) March 19 called on Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress to answer questions.

“While Facebook has pledged to enforce its policies to protect people’s information, questions remain as to whether those policies are sufficient and whether Congress should take action to protect people’s private information,” Klobuchar and Kennedy said in a joint statement. “The lack of oversight on how data is stored and how political advertisements are sold raises concerns about the integrity of American elections as well as privacy rights.”

Separately, Facebook reportedly will hold an open meeting with employees March 20 to discuss the Cambridge debacle. Alex Stamos, chief information security officer at Facebook, has already announced plans to leave the company this summer.