October 19, 2012
On September 25, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with seven rent-to-own companies that secretly installed software on rented computers, clandestinely collected information, took pictures of consumers in their homes (WTF?!) and tracked these consumers’ locations.
If you haven’t vomited on your computer from the sickening outrage, you can read the FTC press release here.
Software design firm DesignerWare, LLC licensed software to rent-to-own stores ostensibly to help them track and recover rented computers. The software collected the data that enabled rent-to-own stores, including franchisees of Aaron’s, ColorTyme, and Premier Rental Purchase, to track the location of rented computers without consumers’ knowledge
According to the FTC, the software enabled remote computer disabling if it was stolen, or if the renter failed to make payments. It included an add-on purportedly to help stores locate rented computers and collect late payments. Alarmingly, the software also collected data that allowed the rent-to-own operators to secretly track the location of rented computers, and thus the computers’ users.
When activated, the nefarious feature logged key strokes, captured screen shots and took photographs using a computer’s webcam, according to the FTC. It also presented a fake software program registration screen that tricked consumers into providing their personal contact information.
“An agreement to rent a computer doesn’t give a company license to access consumers’ private emails, bank account information, and medical records, or, even worse, webcam photos of people in the privacy of their own homes,” said Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the FTC. “The FTC orders today will put an end to their cyber spying.”
“There is no justification for spying on customers. These tactics are offensive invasions of personal privacy,” said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
July 30, 2012
Charles Colton famously stated “Imitation is the sincerest (form) of flattery.” This has never been more true than in the fast-paced world of fashion where designers constantly draw on prior art for inspiration. As Tim Gunn (mentor to would-be fashion designers on the television show Project Runway) often says, “Make it your own.”
Legislation under consideration in the U.S. may provide limited protection for Haute Couture fashion designs.
Read the full article on FasionsCollective.com.
July 4, 2012
Trying to beat the heat? Peruse these top Privacy stories from around the web.
The Internet needs its own ‘declaration of independence’
Christian Science Monitor
A new ‘Declaration of Internet Freedom’ should spark a much-needed discussion about online rights and privacy.
Homeowners Bill of Rights passes in California
According to Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), the key provisions of the Homeowners Bill of Rights legislation include: “a requirement that a person or team of persons employed by a lender to be a single point of contact for the homeowner.
Facebook Joins California Mobile App Privacy Program
California launched its mobile app privacy program in February 2012, just one day before the White House announced its proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. From the outset, the state announced that the six companies with the biggest mobile app …
How California’s New Homeowners’ Bill Of Rights Protects Against Wrongful Foreclosures.
The “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” pushed by state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D), aims to extend to the state level many of the protections ensured by the mortgage fraud settlement between six big banks and the federal government and states.
Descendants of the signers to read the Declaration of Independence on July 4
American Civil Liberties Union News and Information (blog)
“My professional career has been dedicated to advancing people’s rights and liberties as outlined in the Declaration and in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” said Murphy, the Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington …
Independence Day: Ghosts of SCOTUS on the fundamental right to privacy
While the Constitution may not specifically state the right to privacy, the Bill of Rights most assuredly protects aspects of privacy. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on the landmark case, Griswold v. Connecticut, and the Justices referenced the …
Cash-Strapped Consumer And Privacy Groups Petition Commerce Dept For Better Participation.
That’s the department that’s organizing the workshops that are meant to convene all U.S. stakeholders to develop a code of conduct to implement the administration’s Privacy Bill of Rights. The first workshop is taking place inside the Beltway on July …
Why Kansas City is getting Internet 100 times faster than everyone else
Yesterday, an impressive coalition of companies and Internet and human rights activists endorsed a Declaration of Internet Freedom that aims to start a discussion about the basic principles that should underlie online access. Among the 20000 groups or …
Celebrate your independence: You have rights as a taxpayer
Savannah Morning News
Years after the War the Bill of Rights was drafted and 10 amendments were added to our Constitution. … Privacy and confidentiality: The IRS may not discuss any of the facts and information given to them with anyone except in accordance with the law.
Do you have information or data privacy and security concerns? Contact David Adler at Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler for a free consultation.
Perfect Pitch™ ©2009 David M. Adler, All Rights Reserved
My recent attendance at TechWeek Chicago 2012 reminded me of advice that I used to provide to start-up and technology entrepreneurs. I have spent the last 15 years of my law practice advising entrepreneurs and businesses in varying stages of development. At some point, all growing businesses will need an infusion of capital. Sometimes this comes from “friends, family and fools.” Just as often it comes from professional investors such as Angels or Venture Capitalists. If you or your business needs additional capital to get to the “next level” whether that be development of a “proof of concept,” execution of the go-to-market strategy or strategic investment in new people or technology, you will need to convince the investor that your idea or business is relevant to the target market, achievable by the people and intellectual capital behind it, and likely to result in a substantial increase in value.
It has been my experience that many entrepreneurs or CEO pitch-men lose sight of the forest for the tress. All too often, the “pitch” or presentation only focuses on one thing. Usually, it focuses too heavily on the idea or the market and not enough on the people and strategy. On the other hand successful presentations seem to incorporate three basic, yet distinct concepts, what I call the tri-partite “Perfect Pitch.” In a nutshell the Perfect Pitch answers three questions: Who Am I? What Am I? Why Am I?
Who Am I?
Answering this question tells investors about the people behind the idea. Every presentation should begin with a short, pithy and relevant description of the people and company, their history together and their qualifications for successfully commercializing this idea. For example: “John Doe, Jane Smith and Mary Jones each graduated in 2006 with a MBA from the Whoopity School Of Business. John has 5 years experience managing operations for a national retail chain. Jane has a 4 years experience as an assistant human resources manager for a Fortune 500 Company. Mary operated a small consulting business for 3 years before shutting down operations to pursue her MBA. Last year, they formed National Widget Sales Consultants (NWSC) as a Delaware LLC to capitalize on the emerging/growing/widening need for retailers to leverage the growing list of retail sales technologies.”
What Am I?
Answering this question tells the investor about the specific product or service offered and the revenue model. Put another way, answering this question tells investors what you do, how you do it and how you plan to make money. It never ceases to amaze me how many entrepreneurs forget the making-money part. They simply assume that advisors, investors and strategic partners will intuitively “get it.”
We won’t unless you tell us in plain and simple terms. If it is a product, does it stand alone or will it be incorporated into an end-product? Will it be sold wholesale, at retail, through VARs, through an inside sales team, or through an outside sales team, e.g. commissioned sales reps? How will the product be distributed? Will you have your own distribution? Will you piggy-back on another’s? Will you use a traditional courier, e.g., UPS or FedEx?
If it is a service, how will you market it? How will customers acquire it? Will it be licensed? How do you plan to keep customers coming back?
Continuing our previous example, “NWSC has created a proprietary and highly-customizable system that will be marketed and sold by an inside sales force. We will place consultants within our clients’ businesses to dissect their retail operations, identify operational and sales goals and evaluate which of the many technologies in the marketplace are the best fit for achieving those goals. NWSC generates revenue through consulting fees, commissions on technology sales and licensing the system to third-party business consultants.”
This is also the part of the presentation where you want to highlight the existence and commercial viability of any Intellectual Property including, Patents, Trademarks, Copyrighted content and Trade Secrets as well as proprietary technology or systems and methods.
Why Am I?
Now that you have convinced us that you are qualified to run this business and that you know how it will make money, you need to convince us how or why your idea meets existing or potential needs in the marketplace. Another common mistake I see is a focus on market size, penetration and growth. Yes, it’s true that VCs want to see Billion Dollar markets. But, more importantly, they want to know why your idea is going to penetrate that market and capture sales.
For example, is the market fragmented with no dominant provider? Are there segments of the market that are underserved by existing products/services? Put another way, what is your value proposition? Why will customers choose your product or service over their existing, entrenched ways of doing business? Again, don’t assume your audience will instinctively understand this. The more sophisticated the product or service, the more you will have to flesh out this value proposition.
The Bottom Line.
While following the method outlined above is not guaranteed to land you that round of financing that you are after, it will no doubt help. Paying attention to answering these three simple questions will help keep you focused, keep you on message and provide a framework for answering the types of questions that your advisors, investors and strategic partners will be asking themselves. Good Luck!