CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Attorney general wants contact tracing app protection, turn off Facebook political ads, FCC to investigate T-Mobile outage

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California Attorney General urges tech companies to protect consumer data collected by contact-tracing apps

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is expressing concern over contact-tracing apps' use of private consumer data.

In a letter written by a coalition of state attorneys general, Attorney General Becerra calls on Apple and Google to safeguard consumers who may download contact-tracing apps from their platforms. The letter expresses concern that app developers may inappropriately use the user data collected by the app, and urges the tech companies to "verify that every app labeled or marketed as related to contact tracing is affiliated with a municipal, county, state or federal public health authority, or a hospital or university in the U.S. that is working with such public health authorities." The attorneys general requested that apps not associated with governments, schools, or hospitals be removed, and that all contact tracing apps be taken down after the national emergency ends.

"While our communities continue to address the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure Californians can feel their personal information is secure during contact tracing," said Attorney General Becerra. "Google and Apple must make privacy a top priority as they develop and launch contact tracing innovations. By working together, we can help protect the personal and sensitive health data of millions of consumers during this crisis."

Facebook will allow users to "turn off" political ads

Starting today, Facebook users will be able to turn off all political ads shown to them on the social media network.

Facebook made the announcement in a blog post on Tuesday. Some users in the United States will see this option immediately, with plans to roll out this feature nationwide within a few weeks. Users will be able to turn on this feature in their Facebook ad settings, or directly below a political ad served to their feed. "Political ads" include "social issue, electoral or political ads from candidates, Super PACs or other organizations that have the "Paid for by" political disclaimer on them." Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will also give users this option.

Facebook also announced the creation of a Voting Information Center, which will give users "clear, accurate and authoritative information" on how to register to vote, where to vote, how to request a mail-in ballot, and any changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

FCC Chairman demands answers from T-Mobile on huge network outage

T-Mobile experienced a huge disruption of service earlier this week, and now Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai is demanding answers.

"The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable. The @FCC is launching an investigation. We're demanding answers-and so are American consumers," the chairman tweeted.

T-Mobile has since corrected the disruption. According to Neville Ray, T-Mobile President of Technology, "we know T-Mobile customers rely on our network to ensure they have connections with family, loved ones and service providers. This is a responsibility my team takes very seriously and is our highest priority. Yesterday, we didn't meet our own bar for excellence."

T-Mobile went on to say that disruption stemmed from "leased fiber circuit failure from a third party provider in the Southeast" and that redundancies put in place also failed.

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