Best Global Green Brands 2014

brands under fire

Internet Brands Get Chance to Clear Name with Data Requests, but FISA Still Locked Down

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 18, 2013 04:52 PM

In the wake of the PRISM scandal, brands are continuing to jockey for their place among the most transparent as the government slowly concedes to releasing more surveillance data collected through the top-secret NSA program, which was made public by whistle blower Edward Snowden. 

Requests by Facebook, Microsoft, Google and the like to release data requested by the government have been answered this week. While the initial accusations that the internet companies allowed the NSA to troll data through a wide-open back door was ruled false, the companies still wished to clear their names in conjunction with the thousands of written data requests with which they are charged to comply with per federal laws. 

To date, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Microsoft have disclosed the number of requests received over certain blocks of time. Facebook published its first transparency report, where it said it received up to 10,000 requests between July and December 2012. Meanwhile, Apple said it faced up to 5,000 federal, state and local requests between December 2012 and May 2013, Microsoft reported 7,000 requests from July through December 2012, and Yahoo reported the most, with 13,000 requests for data in the past 18 months, the BBC reports.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Vice Pushes the Limit, then Retracts as Suicidal Fashion Spread Backfires

Posted by Alicia Ciccone on June 18, 2013 11:36 AM

Late last week, Vice magazine promoted a new pictorial spread from its Fiction issue. The problem? The photos depicted a handful of famous suicides by legendary female writers with appalling attention to detail, right down to the hosiery that hung Taiwanese author Sanmao. 

The youth culture publication is well-known for its edgy content and no-holds-barred attitude—a reputation that has repeatedly made headlines and garnered unfavorable reactions from readers and critics, even as it partners with the likes of CNN and HBO.

While the brand has successfully turned itself into a more respectable news source over the years, partnering with brands and producing documentaries like its much talked about Basketball Diplomacy stunt that brought Dennis Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters to North Korea to wrap its first season on HBO, Vice still gets its kicks from content like the "Last Words" spread, which, after much protest, was pulled from its website on Tuesday and replaced with a statement from the editorial staff:Continue reading...

brands under fire

NSA Scandal Sends Brands Scrambling to Defend Themselves as Users Question Privacy

Posted by Ben Berkon on June 12, 2013 11:58 AM

The government’s infringement on communicative freedom and privacy is hardly a new topic in America. 

Starting in the late-1940s, the US underwent a period called the "Second Red Scare," which gave birth to the era of "McCarthyism," a time in America where many citizens feared their phone lines were being tapped. Today, heightened security over terrorist activity has caused the nation's security divisions to implement such tactics yet again, though the digital age poses a much greater challenge to operations as the public shares more, but also knows more. 

Privacy concerns have peaked as The Guardian recently published a series of reports documenting questionable actions by the US National Security Agency. Late last week, The Guardian revealed its source— Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence operative who consciously leaked the NSA program called "PRISM.” According to CNN, PRISM is a top secret, on-going program that entitles the NSA "to extract the details of people's online activities—including audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents and other materials."

Yet, unlike past federal privacy infringements, the PRISM scandal has implicated major brands including Verizon, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AOL, Apple and Skype. While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a public note on Facebook claiming, "We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday," and Google CEO Larry Page wrote an open letter sharing similar sentiments, other brands haven't been nearly as forthright, although all have denied knowledge of the program.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Radio-Canada Rebrand Draws Ire from Citizens as Execs Backpedal

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 11, 2013 05:43 PM

Since 1936, Radio-Canada has been the pride of national broadcasting, but last week it chose to rebrand to "Ici," the French word for "here." Needless to say, listeners and politicians alike were irate.  

“Ici” has been used as a "tagline in Radio-Canada’s radio and TV reporting” for many years, according to the CBC, so the transition must have seemed like a natural for some executives in a boardroom. Unfortunately for everybody who signed off on the rebrand, it wasn’t taken too well. 

The Toronto Sun reports that most people were upset that the word “Canada” was going to be removed from the title of Radio-Canada, which costs taxpayers about $1 billion annually.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Google Removes Some Illegal Search Results As Federal Scrutiny Builds

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 11, 2013 04:56 PM

Google has bowed to pressure initiated by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and removed ads and search results for numerous websites selling pharmaceuticals without prescriptions.

The internet giant was issued a litigation hold letter that alerted the company to preserve evidence of anything it takes down, threatening possible legal action. This isn't the first time that Google has been scrutinized by the federal government for the content that lands on its search pages, including ads for illegal drugs and pharmaceuticals, as well as counterfeit goods. 

Hood, co-chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General's intellectual property committee has targeted the company for not being proactive in its monitoring of ads and search results, although the company has previously been fined for a similar offense. "This behavior means that Google is putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from illegal behavior," Hood said.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Monsanto Halts GMO Lobbying Efforts in Europe as Firestorm Builds from Wheat Discovery

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 4, 2013 04:41 PM

Following global anti-GMO marches and the discovery of unapproved GMO wheat in an Oregon field, the latest blow to Monsanto has been dealt by its own governance. The company, which manufactures genetically-modified organisms announced that it would cease its GMO lobbying efforts in Europe as it faces increasing opposition from the European Union and local farmers. 

"We are no longer working on lobbying for more cultivation in Europe," said Brandon Mitchner, representative for Monsanto’s European branch, Tageszeitung in an interview, according to "Currently we do not plan to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops. The reason is, among other things, low demand of the farmers.” Monsanto Germany spokeswoman Ursula Luttmer-Ouazane added, "We've understood that such plants don't have any broad acceptance in European societies. It is counterproductive to fight against windmills."  

Most recently, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Poland and Italy have joined the EU in wanting to ban the cultivation of GM crops, invoking an environmental protection provision knows as the "Safeguard Clause." Monsanto competitors Bayer CropScience, BASF and Syngenta have already pulled out of the German market due to widespread opposition.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Camel Cigarettes Under Fire for Targeting Kids—Again

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 31, 2013 03:32 PM

The Camel cigarette brand has long been the subject of scrutiny over its ad tactics. Its controversial cartoon mascot, Joe Camel, was abandoned in 1997 after a 10-year run as ad watchdogs feared that he would entice youngsters. Back in 2010, the brand got some grief for introducing Camel Orbs, a mint-like tablet that contains ground tobacco with cinnamon or mint flavoring. The tablets could have been easily mistaken for candy by kids, but the product remains on the market today. 

Now Camel is getting another round of rage from such folks as the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and a few other health organizations for a new ad that they feel is going against the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement that prohibits tobacco manufacturers from advertising to kids, according to the Associated Press. The group has sent a letter to Tobacco Committee Co-Chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General to ask them to investigate.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Monsanto Under Fire as Unapproved Genetically-Modified Wheat Found in Oregon

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 31, 2013 01:36 PM

The US Department of Agriculture is investigating the appearance of unapproved genetically engineered wheat plants on a farm in Oregon. The seeds, developed by Monsanto, are resistent to Roundup herbicide and were tested in large swaths across the US from 1994 through 2004 but are not approved for mass production. 

The farmer in Oregon tried, unsuccessfully, to kill the wheat that was growing like a weed in all the wrong places. Mindboggled, he later sent samples to Oregon State University for testing, which found the Roundup-resistant gene. The resistant strain apparently escaped the protocols set up by US regulators to control it, which has set off concern among environmentalists and consumers alike as the US is currently embroiled in a controversial GMO labelling battle. 

"These requirements are leaky and there is just no doubt about that. There is a fundamental problem with the system," Doug Gurian-Sherman, scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists told Reuters. Indeed, a 2005 report by the Office of Inspector General for the USDA criticized government oversight of field tests of GMO crops and listed 21 "major incidents of noncompliance" from 1995 through 2011, five of which involved Monsanto.Continue reading...

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