Tag Archives: FTC

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

FTC Highlights Deep-Sixing of FCC Privacy Rules in Bid for 9th Circuit Rehearing

FTC - FCCIn support of its request for an en banc rehearing of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel decision in FTC v. AT&T over the jurisdictional boundaries between the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) authority over phone companies, broadband providers, and other common carriers, the FTC sent a letter to the Court … Continue Reading

Smart TV Manufacturer “Smarting” after $2.2 Million Privacy Enforcement

This week, the FTC announced a settlement with VIZIO, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of “smart” TVs.  The settlement, also with the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, arises from claims by regulators that VIZIO installed software that collected viewing data for 11 million consumer TVs without consent.  The $2.2 million settlement … 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

FTC Staff Report Details Best Practices for Cross-Device Tracking

The ubiquitous use of multiple devices by consumers has created new opportunities for mobile apps, platforms, providers, and publishers alike to capture more, and more accurate, consumer data.  This practice – known as cross-device tracking – serves many purposes but is particularly valuable to advertisers. On January 23, 2017, FTC staff released a report entitled … Continue Reading

FTC Files Lawsuit Against Taiwanese Manufacturer for Alleged Lax Security in Wireless Routers and Cameras and Related Marketing Claims

150px-US-FederalTradeCommission-Seal_svgThe Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that a networking equipment manufacturer engaged in unfair and deceptive acts, exposing thousands of consumers to the risk of cyberattack from vulnerable wireless routers and internet cameras. The complaint against Taiwan-based networking equipment manufacturer D-Link Corporation and its U.S. subsidiary D-Link Systems alleges … Continue Reading

Do You Venmo? FTC Spotlight on Peer-to-Peer Payments and Crowdfunding

The FTC recently examined peer-to-peer (P2P) payment systems and crowdfunding in the second forum of its FinTech series.  P2P payment systems are online services that allow consumers to share money electronically.  These platforms enable the immediate transfer of money between consumers, typically for free or for a small fee.  In the panel discussion of P2P … Continue Reading

FTC Associate Director for Advertising Practices Elucidates the Commission’s Handling of Referrals From NAD

The advertising industry’s self-regulatory system may be “voluntary,” but ignoring NAD’s recommendations—or declining to participate when asked—buys advertisers a prompt referral to the Federal Trade Commission. NAD often touts its close working relationship with the FTC. But what becomes of these referrals from the self-regulatory system? At NAD’s annual conference last month, Mary Engle, the … Continue Reading

Caution with Hyperlinks and Info-Hovers: Court Denies DIRECTV’S Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Are hyperlinked and hovering disclosures enough to adequately inform consumers about the terms of your offer? Is requiring consumers to click on a button to accept all terms and conditions enough to obtain their informed consent to each of your terms and conditions? A recent federal court decision demonstrates that the answers to those questions … 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

A Pound of Flesh Just Got Heavier

The Federal Trade Commission announced yesterday that it has approved final amendments to Commission Rule 1.98 that adjust the maximum civil penalty dollar amounts for violations of 16 provisions of law the FTC enforces, as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015 (“Adjustment Act”), which requires federal agencies to implement a … 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

Some Things are Best Kept Private: FTC Settles with Company for Using Private Health Data in Public Physician Reviews

physicianreviewThe FTC recently reinforced its commitment to protecting consumer health data in its settlement with electronic health record company Practice Fusion.  The company, which stores consumer health data in a cloud for healthcare providers, was charged with misleading consumers when it sought patients’ reviews of their doctors without disclosing that the information would be shared … 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

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

Snowden Aftershocks: High Court Invalidates U.S.-EU Safe Harbor

ECJThis week, largely driven by concerns over indiscriminate U.S. surveillance of EU citizen data, the Court of Justice of the European Commission (ECJ) invalidated the 15-year-old U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework in Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner.  The Court found that each EU Member State has the right to determine for itself whether a data … 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

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

Wet Wipes Manufacturer Must Back Up Its Flushing Claims (And Not Consumers’ Plumbing)

On May 18, 2015, the FTC announced a settlement with Nice-Pak Products, Inc., concerning claims that its moist wipes are “flushable,” “break apart after being flushed,” and are “safe” for sewer and septic systems. Nice-Pak marketed and sold its flushable wipes primarily through private label brands, such as Costco’s Kirkland Signature Moist Flushable Wipes, CVS’s … Continue Reading
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