Saturday, March 7, 2015
We’re big fans of the Transportation Safety Administration’s hashtag-happy Instagram account, since we enjoy gawking at weaponry that people have tried to sneak on planes, from ammo-filled Bibles to throwing stars. Yet the TSA protected one traveler from a horrifying discovery at the end of her trip: her dog had stowed away in her suitcase, and she didn’t even know it.
My late dog would pull things out of my suitcase after I packed them, but this pup had a different plan to disrupt its owner’s travel. “While resolving a checked baggage alarm, an officer was shocked when he found a dog in the bag!” the TSA explains. It’s good to hear that a bag full of canine would set off some kind of alarm, since the dog could have suffocated inside the hard plastic suitcase. They tracked down the stowaway’s owner and reunited them. The TSA did not specify whether the traveler had to disrupt her plans to bring the dog home, or went along with its wishes and brought it along on the trip.
Ay, Chihuahua [Instagram]
by Laura Northrup via Consumerist
by via Reuters Video: Latest Videos UK
Father Of Teen Poisoned By Caffeine Powder Files Lawsuit Blaming His Death On Supplement Makers, Amazon
The father of an Ohio teen who died in 2014 after ingesting a powdered caffeine marketed as a dietary supplement has filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com and the product’s distributors, claiming that they failed to provide proper warnings about the dangers of using the substance.
When the 18-year-old died, the amount of caffeine in his system was about 23 times greater than the level in a typical soda or coffee drinker, and a coroner ruled that his death was due to cardiac arrhythmia and seizure due to acute caffeine toxicity.
Since then, the Food and Drug Administration has warned people against ingesting pure caffeine, saying that a single teaspoon of the stuff is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee. Even then, it “is nearly impossible to accurately measure powdered pure caffeine with common kitchen measuring tools and you can easily consume a lethal amount,” the FDA cautioned last summer.
The lawsuit filed today lists defendants as a classmate who gave the teen the powder, reports the Associated Press; Amazon for shipping the powder to the classmate and six companies in Arizona that the father’s lawyer says packaged and sold the powder under the name Hard Rhino. He says it appears the companies are related.
According to the lawsuit, the package label informs users that a cup of coffee has about 1/32nd of a teaspoon of a caffeine, but though it also warns that the powder “can be dangerous if abused,” and “failure to follow safety guidelines can result in serious injury or death,” it lacks specific instructions on proper use.
The thought being, if you don’t know how much you are supposed to take, how do you know if you’re abusing it or are in danger?
“The difference between life and death is a pinch and a smidgen,” the attorney says, adding that Amazon has a team of compliance specialists that is supposed to review products before they can be sold on the site.
The father’s attorney says that despite the fact that Hard Rhino stopped selling the powder in light of the FDA’s warning, he was able to order the product from another company off the Internet recently.
“It’s still out there,” he said.
Amazon declined to comment to the AP, and the six companies in Arizona didn’t respond to messages.
Father of Ohio teen poisoned by caffeine powder files suit [Associated Press]
by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist
Everything you do online — on your phone, on your computer, with anything — leaves a digital wake. Put those trails together and you’ve got one massive big data industry that can (and does) track it all and sell it to the highest bidder. After decades of digital detritus building up, regulators and Congress both are contemplating some steps that would help protect consumers’ info.
The FTC will be holding a workshop this fall on how, and how much, companies are tracking you across multiple platforms on the big wide internet. Such workshops are often the first step in a long information-gathering process that can culminate in new rules.
Cross-platform tracking is the big thing for advertisers these days. Services like Facebook Atlas, for example, provide such cross-platform tracking to advertisers. If you are logged into the Facebook app on your phone, and you are logged into Facebook on your computer at work, Atlas will correlate both sets of data into one single profile for advertisers.
That includes information like “here are all the sites this person went to on this browser,” for your desktop, and “here are all the apps this person has and all the places GPS says this person went,” from your phone. Combine all of that information with all of the information you put on your Facebook profile — where you live, where you work, where you went to school, and rings upon rings of people you know and their information — and it’s a rich haul indeed for advertisers who want to goad you into spending more money.
This is not the FTC’s first foray into the world of big data; the agency has become responsible for consumer privacy and the use of consumer data almost by default. They have previously held workshops and published reports on the breadth and depth of the big data industry, which tracks and trades basically everything anyone does anywhere.
Some members of Congress are also now trying to take action on last year’s FTC big data report. Several senators — Richard Blumenthal (CT), Ed Markey (MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), and Al Franken (MN) — have introduced the Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act.
The bill would allow individuals to opt-out from companies using, sharing, or selling their personal data for marketing purposes. The bill would also require the FTC to set up a centralized clearinghouse-type website for consumers, to notify them of their rights.
Sen. Markey introduced a similar bill last year that did not clear committee.
by Kate Cox via Consumerist
by via Reuters Video: Latest Videos UK