Tag Archives: Federal Trade Commission

Judge Upholds FTC Staff Opinion that Avatar Calls are Prerecorded Messages under TSR

Yesterday, a D.C. district court upheld a recent opinion letter issued by FTC staff that extended robocalling restrictions to telemarketing calls that use so-called soundboard technology or “avatars.”  This technology generally allows a live agent to communicate with a call recipient by playing recorded audio snippets instead of using his or her own live voice. … Continue Reading

California Last State to Join Multistate Settlement of Western Union Fraud Schemes

Last week, California became the 50th state to join the multistate settlement with Western Union over its alleged complicity in fraud-induced wire transfers.  This followed Western Union’s $5 million agreement with 49 state and the District of Columbia for costs and fees in January, not to mention a whopping $586 million in settlement agreements with the … Continue Reading

New FTC Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen Offers Insight into Consumer Protection Priorities

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust over one week after being named acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Maureen Ohlhausen delivered the keynote address at the American Bar Association’s biennial Consumer Protection Conference in Atlanta on February 2. During her remarks, acting chair Ohlhausen offered insight into consumer protection priorities during her tenure as acting chair. First, acting … Continue Reading

FTC Cries Foul On Breathometer Accuracy Claims

150px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal_svgThe FTC recently announced a settlement with Breathometer, Inc., a company that marketed a smartphone accessory that it claimed could detect blood alcohol levels.  Users could simply plug the accessory into the headphone jack, open the Breathometer app, blow, and receive a reading of their blood alcohol content within five seconds.  Breathometer marketed the products … Continue Reading

Health Claim Substantiation Has Not Gone to the Dogs

The FTC announced a settlement with Mars Petcare U.S. concerning allegations that the company did not have proper substantiation to support quantified health benefit claims for its Eukanuba brand dog food. The FTC’s complaint alleges that a 2015 ad campaign for Eukanuba expressly or impliedly claimed that the dog food could increase the lifespan of … Continue Reading

FTC Updates Consumer Guidance for Online Tracking

On June 23, the FTC updated its consumer information page to provide updated guidance on “Online Tracking.”  The updated guidance is intended to provide consumers with information on different methods of tracking, how they work, and how consumers can control such tracking.  While directed to consumers, updates to this page can also help businesses understand … Continue Reading

Going Geo-Loco: FTC Settles with Mobile Ad Network over Geolocation Collection

The FTC announced a settlement on Wednesday with mobile advertising company, InMobi Pte Ltd., concerning allegations that the company deceptively tracked the geolocation of hundreds of millions of unknowing consumers, including children, to serve them geo-targeted advertising.  As part of the settlement, InMobi will pay $950,000 in civil penalties relating to violations of the Children’s … 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

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

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

FTC Closing Letter Provides Good Data Security Reminder

Last week, the FTC sent a closing letter to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan  Stanley”) relating to the agency’s investigation over whether Morgan Stanley engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices by failing to secure certain account information related to its Wealth Management clients. The investigation examined allegations that a Morgan Stanley employee … Continue Reading

Google to Refund at Least $19 Million Over Kids’ In-App Purchases

On September 4, 2014, the FTC announced a settlement with Google Inc., which requires the search giant to pay at least $19 million in refunds to consumers that the Commission alleges were billed for unauthorized in-app charges incurred by kids.  The settlement follows a similar settlement in January with Apple (which required Apple to pay … Continue Reading

Third Plastic Lumber Company Hammered by FTC Over “Green” Claims

Last week, the FTC announced it had reached another settlement with a plastic lumber company regarding its green marketing claims.  This is the FTC’s third settlement in five months relating to environmental claims for plastic lumber products (the other cases involved N.E.W. Plastics Corp. and American Plastic Lumber, Inc.). The FTC’s complaint alleges that Engineered … Continue Reading

FTC Files Suit Against Amazon Over Kids’ In-App Purchases

On July 10, 2014, the FTC filed a complaint in federal court alleging that Amazon unlawfully billed parents and other Amazon account holders for unauthorized in-app charges incurred by kids.  The complaint follows a similar FTC settlement with Apple and a similar class action lawsuit against Google.  The FTC’s complaint alleges that Amazon offers free … Continue Reading

Snapchat Captured in FTC Enforcement

On May 8, 2014, the FTC announced a settlement with Snapchat resolving allegations that the popular mobile messaging app deceived consumers over the disappearing nature of users “snaps” and made false and misleading representations concerning its privacy and information security practices.  The FTC took issue with several of Snapchat’s practices and representations: Disappearing “Snaps” – Snapchat … Continue Reading

Wyndham Hits a Wall in Challenge to FTC Data Breach Authority

Earlier this week, a federal district court in New Jersey issued an opinion ruling on Wyndham Worldwide Corporation’s and three of its subsidiaries’ (collectively “Wyndham’s”) motion to dismiss, finding for the FTC on all grounds.  While the court noted that the “decision does not give the FTC a blank check to sustain a lawsuit against every … Continue Reading

Mobile Enforcement Continues to be APPealing to the FTC

On March 28, 2014, the FTC announced two new mobile app settlements – with Fandango and Credit Karma – based on allegations that the companies failed to secure the transmission of consumers’ sensitive personal information collected via their mobile apps and misrepresented the security precautions that the companies took for each app. Specifically, the FTC … Continue Reading

Lawsuit Filed Against Google Over Kids’ In-App Purchases

A class action lawsuit was filed last week in California against Google Inc., alleging that many apps in Google’s app marketplace permit children to make virtual purchases within the game without a parents’ knowledge or consent. The complaint alleges that Google offers free and paid apps through its “Google Play” store, and that many are … Continue Reading

Plastic Lumber Company Nailed Over “Green” Claims

The FTC announced last week that it had reached a settlement with N.E.W. Plastics Corp., d/b/a Renew Plastics, over allegedly improper recyclability and recycled content claims.  The company manufactures plastic lumber products – including its Evolve and Trimax brands – used primarily in outdoor decking and furniture.  According to the FTC’s complaint, the company claimed … Continue Reading

FTC Settles Action Against Seller of Internet Cameras for Failure to Protect Consumers’ Privacy

The FTC announced today that it has reached a settlement with TRENDnet regarding allegations that it failed to protect consumers’ privacy and thus caused consumers to unknowingly broadcast private video feeds on the internet. The settlement marks the FTC’s first enforcement action regarding the “Internet of Things,” or an everyday consumer product with connectivity to … Continue Reading

FTC Announces Settlements on “No VOC” Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced settlements with three mattress manufacturers last week that prohibit the manufacturers from making claims that their products are free from volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”) absent competent and reliable scientific evidence. The companies involved – Relief-Mart, Inc., Essentia Natural Memory Foam Company, Inc., Ecobaby Organics, Inc. – are all alleged … Continue Reading

FTC Updates COPPA FAQs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission announced the latest updates to its Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) document to assist online operators as they work to comply with changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection (“COPPA”) Rule that went into effect on July 1, 2013. The updated FAQs address the following topics: Share buttons – FAQ … Continue Reading

FTC to Host Roundtable on Changes to Care Labeling Rule

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced this week that it will host a roundtable on October 1 regarding the Rule on Care Labeling of Textile Wearing Apparel and Certain Piece Goods (the “Care Labeling Rule”). As apparel manufacturers and retailers know, the Care Labeling Rule requires manufacturers and importers to attach labels with care instructions … Continue Reading
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