5 Companies That Had A Rough Week

The Week Ending March 7

This week's roundup of companies that had a rough week include complaints to the government about the possible privacy implications of Facebook's WhatsApp acquisition; a complaint from the government that it was overcharged by Sprint; a court loss by Apple in its ongoing patent battles with Samsung; reported dissension within Microsoft's sales force; and a new email service that adds to our already overfilled inboxes.

Privacy Groups Call For FTC Investigation Of Facebook's WhatsApp Acquisition

The Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center this week filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate whether Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of messaging service company WhatsApp will impact the privacy of its 450 million users.

While Facebook has said it plans to continue operating WhatsApp as a separate operation, it hasn't disclosed how it plans to use data collected by WhatsApp -- or even how it intends to use WhatsApp to make money.

WhatsApp had a long-standing commitment that it would not collect user data for advertising purposes, according to a Reuters story. The privacy advocates are worried that Facebook won't maintain that commitment.

U.S. Government Says Sprint Overcharged $21M For Surveillance Services

Overcharging a customer for a service: bad. Overcharging government agencies like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency: really bad.

This week the U.S. government sued Sprint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, saying the telecommunications company overcharged federal agencies, including the FBI and DEA, by $21 million for wiretapping and other surveillance-related expenses. Sprint provided a statement to CRN denying the lawsuit's claims.

Telecommunications companies are allowed to bill government agencies when their equipment is used by law enforcement for monitoring and intercepting phone calls. But the lawsuit says Sprint inflated charges by 58 percent, or $21 million, between January 2007 and July 2010.

Report: Dissension In the Ranks In Microsoft Sales

Microsoft's sales model is "broken" and may not be up to the task of selling cloud services, according to a Business Insider report. Many of the company's sales representatives are chafing under COO Kevin Turner's (pictured) leadership, according to the story, saying he has raised sales quotas to unrealistic levels, doesn't offer salespeople the right incentives for selling cloud services, and is too focused on selling volumes of Windows licenses rather than determining customers' cloud computing needs.

Microsoft is trying to transform itself into a devices and services company, and the Business Insider story suggests Turner may not be the right person to move the company in the direction it needs to go.

Apple Loses Latest Effort To Ban Samsung Smartphones

A U.S. district court judge this week rejected Apple's call to enact a U.S. sales ban against some older Samsung smartphones. The ruling, according to a Reuters story, was a setback for Apple and its ongoing patent battle with Samsung.

Apple has charged that Samsung has violated patents Apple holds on smartphone features and product design elements, the Reuters story said. While Apple did win a $900 million settlement in the case, Apple has not had any luck in its efforts to get an injunction that bans sales of Samsung smartphones. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, in San Jose, Calif., said Apple did not present enough evidence to warrant an injunction, Reuters reported.

Startup Rebump Finds New Way To Clog Your Email Inbox

OK, this isn't a rough week for Rebump. But it does have the potential to make every week a rough week for the rest of us.

Rebump is a service that automatically sends what it calls "friendly follow-up messages" to email recipients who have not responded to an email. The messages are customized to appear as if the original sender sent the follow-up.

This means that in addition to receiving emails we may care nothing about, we can all look forward to any number of follow-up emails, regularly repinging us until we respond. Just what we all need.