Hillicon Valley: Acting FTC chair blasts Supreme Court decision limiting agency consumer power | Police tech under scrutiny following Chicago shooting

Hillicon Valley: Acting FTC chair blasts Supreme Court decision limiting agency consumer power | Police tech under scrutiny following Chicago shooting
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The chair of the Federal Trade Commission criticized a Supreme Court decision handed down Thursday that limits how the agency can punish companies engaging in deceptive practices. Meanwhile, certain kinds of technologies used by law enforcement have come under scrutiny following the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago, and two Senate Democrats are raising concerns around the safety and security of Tesla vehicles. 



FTC VS. SUPREME COURT: Acting Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter criticized the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision Thursday to limit the agency’s ability to secure monetary relief for consumers from companies found to engage in deceptive practices. 

The court's opinion, delivered by Justice Stephen Beyer, said that the FTC’s authority under a provision known as Section 13(b) does not grant the agency the ability to obtain equitable monetary relief. 

Slaughter said the ruling took away the FTC’s “strongest tool” to help consumers and urged Congressional action. 

“In AMG Capital, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of scam artists and dishonest corporations, leaving average Americans to pay for illegal behavior,” Slaughter said in a statement on the case, AMG Capital Management v. FTC.

Breyer wrote that the court’s ruling does not prohibit the FTC from using other provisions of the law to seek restitution, and that the commission can ask Congress to “grant it further remedial authority."

Slaughter and other commission members are doing just that. The commissioners testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee regarding the need for 13(b) legislation, and Slaughter will appear before the House Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection next week.


Read more here


POLICE TECH ACCOUNTABILITY: On March 29 at 2:36 a.m., police in Chicago were notified by a system called ShotSpotter that eight gun shots had been fired in the Little Village neighborhood.

Officers quickly arrived at the scene, and within five minutes of the initial alert one of them shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

Critics of police tactics are hopeful that last week’s release of the body camera video will bring high-profile scrutiny of the technology that brought cops to Toledo, and of predictive policing more broadly.

“People are just now becoming aware of and paying attention to [ShotSpotter],” said Freddy Martinez, a policy analyst at Open the Government who studies police surveillance. “It’s kind of like a watershed moment.”

ShotSpotter is an acoustic gunshot detection system that uses a series of microphones and sensors. The sounds are fed through a verification process that involves both artificial intelligence and human review and takes less than 60 seconds, according to the manufacturer.

The company, which launched in 1996, works with police departments in more than 110 U.S. cities and a handful of police forces overseas.

Sam Klepper, vice president of marketing and product strategy at ShotSpotter, told The Hill that the technology is “designed to get police to a precise location very rapidly to aid victims, collect evidence and in some cases catch the perpetrator who is still at the crime scene.”

Read more about the concerns here. 


TESLA IN HOT WATER: Two Senate Democrats wrote to a pair of federal agencies this week urging them to come up with recommendations for improving self-driving automobile software following a fatal crash involving a Tesla in Texas.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyCivilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board that the agencies should develop "recommendations for how automated driving and driving assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot can be improved," and warned that fatal crashes involving self-driving car software are becoming a "pattern."

“While automated driving and driver assistance systems — like the Autopilot feature on Tesla cars — can help prevent injurious and fatal accidents, they must be implemented strategically and safely,” reads the letter, obtained by The Hill.


“The most recent Tesla crash is the latest in a rash of accidents — the 28th — that NHTSA is investigating involving a Tesla car. We fear safety concerns involving these vehicles are becoming a pattern, which is incredibly worrisome and deserves your undivided attention," it continues.

Their letter referred to a fatal crash that occurred over the weekend in Texas involving a Tesla that struck a tree after failing to make a turn; investigators have said that initial evidence indicates that no one was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, while Tesla CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskOn The Money: Five takeaways on a surprisingly poor jobs report | GOP targets jobless aid after lackluster April gain Musk warns on cryptocurrency surge: 'Invest with caution!' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE has claimed that the car involved did not have the brand's signature self-driving feature.

Read more here. 


INSTAGRAM ADDS ADS: Instagram is bringing ads to its short-form video feature Reels, the company said Thursday. 

The ads will be mobile-first and full screen, similar to the ads in Instagram Stories, according to Instagram’s parent company Facebook. 

The ads will be up to 30 seconds long, and users will be able to like, view, save, share and skip the ads as they would with other content in Reels. 


The update comes less than a year after Instagram launched Reels, a direct competitor to the popular video sharing app TikTok. 

Read more about the launch

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