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A group of state Attorneys General want existing rules to protect children under 13 online expanded to include things like faceprints used to unlock consumers’ cellphones, health data from internet-connected smart watches, and kids’ genetic information.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined 24 other AGs on a comment letter Monday sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging an update to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). They want stronger rules prohibiting websites, mobile applications, and other digital marketing companies from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 and using that information to track children across the internet.
“Without modification to the current rule, companies will continue to build profiles on children based on collected data,” Slatery said in a statement. “Those profiles will be used to target them for many decades to come.”
The letter also urges the FTC to clamp down on companies that embed code in children’s mobile applications and collect data in order to show children advertising based on their online behavior.
The AGs also urged the FTC to examine how the rules apply to school-issued laptops that are “free” so long as companies get to collect information from the students using them. Further, the attorneys general urged the FTC not to create exceptions to the rule that would allow massive websites like YouTube to skirt COPPA’s requirements.
”The internet has only grown more embedded, and more inextricably intertwined in citizens’ lives over the last twenty years, not less,” reads the letter. “As more and more of our lives are lived online, and as digital tools make their way into our schools and into our lives at ever-earlier ages, rules like the COPPA Rule must continue not only to exist, but grow and adapt to ever-changing regulatory landscapes.”
Read the full letter here:
Nigerian Extradited to Memphis for Alleged Cybercrime
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A Nigerian man was extradited to Memphis recently to stand trial in a cybercrime scheme that targeted a Memphis real estate company and other individuals here.
Babatunde Martins, 64, was living in Accra, Ghana, but has been brought to Memphis, facing charges of wire fraud, money laundering, computer fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The announcement was made Monday by Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee, and Special Agent in Charge M.A. Myers of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office.
The indictment against Martins and his associates claims they hacked servers and email systems of a Memphis real estate firm. The firm was not named in a news release.
The group used spoofed email addresses and Virtual Private Networks to identify large financial transactions with the real estate company. The group would then initiate fraudulent email correspondence with the relevant business parties. Then, they’d redirect closing funds through a network of U.S.-based money mules to final destinations in Africa. Commonly referred to as business-email compromise, or BEC, this aspect of the scheme caused hundreds of thousands in loss to companies and individuals in Memphis, according to law enforcement agencies.
Martin is also charged with perpetrating romance scams, fraudulent-check scams, gold-buying scams, advance-fee scams, and credit card scams. The indictment alleges that the proceeds of these criminal activities, both money and goods, were shipped and/or transferred from the United States to locations in Africa through a complex network of both complicit and unwitting individuals that had been recruited through the various internet scams.
Possible victims of online scams are urged to check this list of names, aliases used by Martins and his associates.
Five other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme. Two others, Olufalojimi Abegunde, 33, and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 30, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Abegunde received a 78-month sentence and Ramos-Alonso received a 31-month sentence for their roles in the scheme. Several individuals remain at large.
All of the group’s activities are suspected to have caused millions of dollars worth of loss to victims across the globe.