Category Archives: Federal Trade Commission

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Federal Court Finds Amazon Liable for Kids’ In-App Purchases

Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that Amazon is liable for permitting unauthorized in-app purchases incurred by children.  Amazon is the last in a series of actions brought by the FTC against third-party platforms related to kids’ in-app charges (we previously blogged about the other two actions against Apple and Google here and here, which resulted in … Continue Reading

FTC’s “All Natural” Cases Are More About “All” Than “Natural”

All NaturalThe Federal Trade Commission announced last week filing of four consent decrees and an administrative complaint relating to companies selling various personal care products – shampoos, sunscreens, moisturizers – featuring claims such as “all natural” or “100% natural.”  The FTC alleges that these claims were false or misleading because all of the products at issue … Continue Reading

‘Smart’ Ways To Avoid FTC Internet Of Things Scrutiny

Hutnik - Skelton Law360Connected devices have existed in the marketplace in one form or another for decades (think vending machines or weather sensors). Yet, a confluence of forces in recent years has helped spur a mass proliferation of technology in the “Internet of Things,” and with it, the collection and analytics of big data. Demand is high to … Continue Reading

Think Before You App: FTC Releases Compliance Tools for Health App Developers

Using the Health app on an iPhone 6.The Federal Trade Commission furthered its outreach to the mobile app developer community last week by issuing new guidance for integrating privacy and security into mobile health apps, as well as an interactive online tool for determining whether key laws apply. As referenced in Consumer Protection Bureau Director Rich’s testimony a few weeks ago, the … Continue Reading

From Big Data to Bacon to Bots: Who will be Under FTC’s Watchful Eye Next?

At last week’s Strata + Hadoop Worldwide Big Data Conference those “in the know” about all things Silicon Valley prophesized that “data is the new bacon.”  Witty comparisons aside, there is no question that big data has matured.  Companies across all industry types are clamoring to leverage every possible gigabyte of available consumer data.  As … Continue Reading

No Free Passes: FTC Highlights Health Privacy in Congressional Testimony

In testimony to a Congressional subcommittee last week, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director, Jessica Rich, explained the Commission’s efforts to protect consumers’ health data and repeated the Commission’s request for additional authority to go even further.  Bureau Director Rich began by noting the proliferation of consumer-directed health products, such as websites, wearable technology, and … Continue Reading

Can You Hear Me Now? Audio Snooping Triggers FTC Warning to Mobile App Developers

This week, a dozen mobile app developers received warning letters from the FTC concerning audio monitoring software used in their apps, but not clearly disclosed to consumers. The app developers allegedly used software development kits created by a company called SilverPush.  The warning letters explain that SilverPush makes a “Unique Audio Beacon” technology available for … Continue Reading

FTC Requests Auditors’ Data on PCI Data Security Assessments

Earlier this week, the FTC issued orders to nine credit card and payment security auditors in an effort to gain insight into data security compliance auditing and its role in protecting consumers’ information and privacy. The orders contain detailed questions concerning the assessment process for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (“PCI DSS”) compliance, including the policies … Continue Reading

The Carrot and the Stick: FTC’s Letter Evidences Flexible Yet Firm Approach to Claim Substantiation

The Federal Trade Commission recently approved a final consent order with Carrot Neurotechnology, Inc. and its co-owners, requiring them to stop making allegedly deceptive claims that their “Ultimeyes” video game app can improve users’ vision. The app allegedly featured claims such as “Turn Back The Clock On Your Vision,” and promised improvements in vision for … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Settlement with ASUS over Insecure Routers and Cloud Services

Yesterday, the FTC announced that it had entered into a settlement agreement with Taiwan-based computer hardware manufacturer ASUSTeK Computer Inc., resolving allegations that the company failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and cloud services. Such failure, the FTC claims, constitutes an unfair practice, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act. … Continue Reading

Navigating Native Advertising

The FTC recently released two new guidance documents: Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements and Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses. The Policy Statement seeks to address the broad area of “advertising and promotional messages integrated into and presented as non-commercial content.”  The Business Guide more narrowly addresses native advertising, which the FTC defines … Continue Reading

App Developers Settle COPPA Violations Relating to Third-Party Ad Network Practices

COPPAThis week, the FTC announced settlements with two mobile app developers – LAI Systems, LLC and Retro Dreamer (including two of its principals) – concerning allegations that their apps collected childrens’ personal information without obtaining parental consent in violation of COPPA.  These cases are the first in which the FTC has held a company liable … Continue Reading

Wyndham Agrees to Settle FTC Data Security Case

After four years of litigation, this past Wednesday, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation and three of its subsidiaries  (collectively, “Wyndham”) settled the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) allegations that the global hospitality company failed to protect consumers’ personal information in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.  Between 2008 and 2009, Wyndham suffered a series of data … Continue Reading

Tommie Copper Hurts While the FTC Finds Relief

Tommie Copper advertised its copper-infused compression garments with the slogan: “Life Hurts. Find Relief.” Now, the company is itself hurting, after the FTC announced a settlement that requires it to pay over $1 million in monetary relief and to change the way it substantiates its claims. Tommie Copper claimed that the “patented 56 percent copper-infused nylon … Continue Reading

FCC and FTC Announce Consumer Protection Memorandum of Understanding

On Monday, the FCC and FTC published a Memorandum of Understanding in which the two agencies agreed to engage in greater coordination and collaboration on consumer protection issues, with greater respect for each agency’s jurisdiction. The MOU comes at a time when both agencies are seeking to position themselves as protectors of consumers in the digital … Continue Reading

The FTC Pressures Press Interactions, Defies Commercial Speech Doctrine

On Tuesday, the FTC joined the Department of Justice and several other federal agencies in announcing numerous recent and ongoing actions against dietary supplement marketers. The FTC, in its discussions, highlighted a case that it filed earlier this year against marketers of green coffee products. That case is closely related to another case involving the … Continue Reading

Weight-Loss Claims: How Many Studies Does the FTC Really Think It Takes?

On Tuesday, the FTC announced that it has sent warning letters to 20 marketers of weight-loss dietary supplements. The letters question whether the companies possess adequate support for claims and describe the scientific evidence required to support such claims. The Commission is asking the companies to review all product claims, including endorsements and testimonials, to … Continue Reading

Webinar: Preparing for the Worst: A Step by Step Guide to Understanding how the FTC Advertising Claims Enforcement Process Works

Industry scored an important victory in the recent DOJ vs. Bayer case.  But, despite that outcome, health claim enforcement will remain a key priority for the FTC going forward.  This presentation is a practical discussion of how the FTC enforcement process works and advocacy steps that companies should consider along the way, including selecting and … Continue Reading

Highlights from the FTC’s Second “Start With Security” Initiative

FTC Start with SecurityOn November 5, the FTC hosted its second “Start With Security” event in Austin, Texas in an effort to provide companies with practical tips and strategies for implementing effective data security. FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny opened the event discussing the FTC’s “Start With Security” business initiative and guidance document, which provides “best practices” (and not … Continue Reading

FTC Hosts Workshop on Lead Generation

On October 30, 2015, the FTC held a workshop on lead generation to explore online lead generation in various industries.  Lead generation, also called performance marketing, is the process of identifying or cultivating consumer interest in a product or service, and distributing this information to third parties.  Lead generation can facilitate comparison shopping and promote … Continue Reading

United States v. Bayer: Preventing or Treating Disease Claims

In recent years, the FTC and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (“CSPI”) seem to have seen disease claims everywhere, regardless of whether the FDA has deemed the same claims appropriate, non-disease structure/function claims.  In the United States v. Bayer Corp., for the second time in recent months, a court called them on … Continue Reading

Will the FTC Have Access to Your Electronic Communications?

Amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) has long been under consideration in Congress, but recent testimony indicates that ECPA reform may have deeper implications for companies subject to FTC investigations. The ECPA, passed almost 30 years ago, generally prohibits the unauthorized access to communications systems and the disclosure of the contents of wire and … Continue Reading

“Green” Certifications and Seals Do Not Have FTC Approval

On September 14, FTC staff sent warning letters to five providers of environmental certification seals and 32 businesses that display them online, alerting them to the agency’s concerns that the seals may be deceptive and may not comply with the FTC’s Green Guides.  Although the warning letters do not identify which certifiers, seals, or businesses … Continue Reading
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