Tag Archives: Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Appeals Court Sides with FTC in POM Wonderful Advertising Case

On January 30, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld claims of false advertising by POM Wonderful LLC (“POM Wonderful”), finding that the government could prohibit the pomegranate juice company from advertising its products as being effective in fighting heart disease, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. … Continue Reading

FTC Report Offers Privacy and Security Guidance for ‘Internet of Things’

On Tuesday, January 27, the FTC issued a 71-page Staff Report on the privacy and security issues with the Internet of Things.  As we’ve noted in our previous blog posts, the Internet of Things (“IoT”) refers to the growing ability of everyday devices to monitor and communicate information through the Internet.  This FTC Staff Report … Continue Reading

Online Advertising Targeted by Federal Trade Commission

On May 15, 2014, Maneesha Mithal, Associate Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection at the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") testified, on behalf of the FTC, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs addressing the Commission's work regarding three consumer protection issues affecting online advertising: (1) privacy, (2) malware and (3) data security. Below is a summary of the Commission's testimony regarding these three key areas and the Commission's advice for additional steps to protect consumers.… Continue Reading

FTC to Media: Time to Lose Some Pounds

Just in time for the New Year, as thousands of people are making weight loss resolutions and searching for ways to stick to them, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released updated guidance for publishers and broadcasters on how to evaluate weight-loss claims when screening ads for publication. The imposition of liability on the media for deceptive claims that are published is not new, and major television networks already pre-clear advertisements to ensure that they not misleading violations of section 5 of the FTC Act. Thus, the guidance does not create new liability for publishers, but rather provides a reminder for publishers to be vigilant when it comes to weight-loss claims.… Continue Reading

DMA Not a Supporter of “Reclaim Your Name” Campaign

Back in June, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill unveiled an initiative called, "Reclaim Your Name" at the Computer Freedom and Privacy Conference. Her proposed initiative is directed to the big data industry and calls on data brokers to give consumers more control over their personal data. According to Commissioner Brill, Reclaim Your Name would "empower the consumer to find out how brokers are collecting and using data; give her access to information that data brokers have amassed about her; allow her to opt-out if she learns a data broker is selling her information for marketing purposes; and provide her the opportunity to correct errors in information used for substantive decisions - like credit, insurance, employment, and other benefits." Commissioner Brill followed up her remarks at the Conference with an op-ed piece in the Washington Post earlier this month, again demanding transparency from data brokers. In her op-ed, Commissioner Brill likened the efforts of data brokers who collect data on surfing habits and app usage to the type of information the NSA was collecting. She also opined that "personal data could be -- and probably are -- used by firms making decisions that aren't regulated by the FCRA but still affect users' lives profoundly" and that these decisions include whether consumers are too risky to do business with or aren't right for certain clubs, dating services, schools or other programs.… Continue Reading

FTC Issues New COPPA Guidance Focusing on Ad Networks

It's now been almost a month since the revised COPPA Rule went into effect July 1, 2013. Earlier this year, the FTC issued new guidance on how to comply with the revised Rule. As part of its new guidance, the FTC provided a detailed set of FAQs. The FTC is planning to make additional revisions to their FAQs, with these revisions focusing on the obligations of ad networks. Specifically, the FTC explains in what circumstances an ad network is deemed to have "actual knowledge" that it has collected personal information from users of a child-directed site (see D.10, D.11, D.12), and the obligations of ad networks after they discover that they have been collecting personal information via a child-directed website (see K.2). The revised FAQs also relates traditional enforcement policy to the context of a button within an app that automatically opens an email program or social network. Providing the facility for a child to share personal information is just as problematic as if the operator was collecting that information itself. Thus, verifiable parental consent is required when permitting children to share content that may contain personal information - such as a painting combined with a field that allows for free expression.… Continue Reading

The Risks of ‘Native Advertising’

Kim Kardashian is notorious for setting Twitter trends with her fashion-forward tweets. But would a consumer buy the same product knowing she was paid up to $20,000 for tweeting it? The term "native advertising" refers to when an advertiser masks ads as editorial content in an effort to market more seamlessly to consumers. The intent behind this practice is to make advertisements less intrusive and to associate a brand with an experience.… Continue Reading

FTC Chairwoman Ramirez Says Do-Not-Track System is ‘Long Overdue’

Earlier this week, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez spoke to members of the ad industry, urging them to provide “effective and meaningful privacy protection” to consumers with respect to online tracking. Chairwoman Ramirez’s position reportedly surprised, and even frustrated, some attendees by implying that the Digital Advertising Alliance’s self-regulatory program does not do enough in the … Continue Reading

FTC Revises Guidelines for Online Advertising

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released updated guidelines (PDF) for regulating unfair and deceptive trade practices in online marketing. The ".Com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising," were released in 2000, before the meteoric rise of social media marketing and the advent of smartphone advertising. As the evolution of these two areas has drastically changed the way brands communicate with consumers and blurred lines between corporate and word of mouth advertising, the FTC saw a need to extend these guidelines to cover all online, social and mobile marketing.… Continue Reading

FTC to Mobile Industry: $800K… Can You Hear Me Now?

On February 1, the FTC announced its largest settlement to date with a mobile app developer – an $800,000 penalty – in conjunction with the release of guidance on mobile app best practices for app platforms, app developers, third parties and app trade associations.  The guidance document and the enforcement action together demonstrate the need … Continue Reading

POM Wonderful’s Claims … Not So Wonderful

On January 16, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission in a 5-0 vote upheld a May 2012 Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision that POM Wonderful LLC ("POM") and its owners had falsely advertised its POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice, and POMx liquid and pill supplements, by claiming that its products treat, prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, and that they were proven to work...… Continue Reading

FTC Announces New COPPA Rule

FTC Chairman Leibowitz has followed though on his commitment to finalize the new COPPA rule by the end of the year. Earlier today, at a press conference, the Chairman, alongside Senator Jay Rockefeller, announced the agency’s update to the rule. The new rule expands the application of the rule to new categories of “personal information” … Continue Reading

Do you know where your children are?

Apparently, a lot of people want to know, according to the Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz and Jeff Chester, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Democracy. To learn more why, read our Global Regulatory Enforcement Law Blog covering the latest complaint filed against a mobile game-maker for alleged COPPA violations.… Continue Reading

Children’s Privacy in Mobile Apps Continues to be atop FTC’s List of Concerns

One is hard-pressed to think of something more important than protecting the privacy of our children. Front and center in this debate is how such privacy concerns need to be addressed in mobile platforms like smartphones. As the saying goes, "There's an app for that", and such is certainly true in offerings directed to children. The Federal Trade Commission has now issued its second staff report on the privacy practices of mobile apps for children, "Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade."… Continue Reading

Federal Trade Commission Director Claims Victory with Largest Civil Fine in FTC’s History for Consent Order Violation

David Vladeck, FTC Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, made comments Tuesday, citing the U.S. District Court's approval of a $22.5 million civil fine against Google for violating a consent order as "a clear victory for consumers and privacy," and demonstrating that the Commission "will continue to ensure that its orders are obeyed, and that consumers' privacy is protected." The consent order settled charges that Google misrepresented privacy assurances to users of Apple's Safari Internet browser in violation of a previous FTC settlement Order.… Continue Reading

FTC and CFPB Send Wake-Up Call to Ensure Compliance with Mortgage Acts and Practices Advertising Rule

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced today that they have sent warning letters to more than 30 companies, including lenders, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, home builders and lead generators, notifying them that their advertisements may have violated the Mortgage Acts and Practices Rules ("MAP Rule"). The MAP Rule prohibits material misrepresentations in any commercial communication (including advertising) regarding any mortgage credit product, and contains record-keeping requirements for persons subject to the rule. Mortgage advertisers that violate the MAP Rule could be subject to civil penalties. The FTC and CFPB reviewed more than 800 mortgage ads across a variety of media and found numerous types of potentially false or misleading claims, including...… Continue Reading

FTC and CFPB to Announce Joint Efforts to Address Consumer Protection

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced they will hold a press conference on Monday, November 19 to reveal a coordinated effort to protect consumers. The agencies have concurrent jurisdiction over financial services companies so this announcement, the first sine the re-election of President Obama, will be very revealing of what's to come as these two regulators begin their oversight in earnest.. We'll report more on Monday. The full press release can be read here.… Continue Reading

FTC Announces Robocall Summit

On the heels of our report that the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") is putting the obligations on entities that use auto-dialers — “Robocalls” — to public safety phone lines on its agenda for the year (see our 10/17/12 blog: “New Do-Not-Call Public Safety Registry Creates Additional Obligations for Auto-Dial Operators” by Judith L. Harris and … Continue Reading

FTC Calling On Ad Networks to Limit and Justify Data Collection

The issue of data collection is an important one in online privacy, particularly as it applies to ad networks. This issue is especially contentious in the context of Do Not Track mechanisms. A number of browsers - such as Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox - have mechanisms that permit consumers to instruct websites not to track their activities across the web. The FTC has said on numerous occasions, though, that an effective Do Not Track system should go beyond opting consumers out of receiving targeted advertisements; it should opt them out of the collection of behavioral data for all purposes, unless the purpose is consistent with the context of the interaction (e.g., to prevent click-fraud). Such sentiments were expressed in the FTC's Privacy Report, as well as its testimony before Congress.… Continue Reading

FTC’s Increasingly Aggressive Role in Enforcement

At a recent speaking engagement at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, David Vladeck, Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said that the FTC is creating a legacy of enforcement that changes expectations and baselines. Vladeck used strong words to describe the FTC's hardline stance on enforcement, saying that the FTC has "sent a signal to the fraudster community" that "if you engage in this kind of fraud, we're going to take everything you have and then try to burn down your house." He noted that the FTC has obtained in the last three years more than 300 redress orders worth hundreds of millions of dollars for consumers, and that it has obtained 150 occupational bans against bad actors. Berkeley law professor Ted Mermin also spoke at the engagement. According to Mermin, under the Obama administration, the FTC has been more aggressive than it has been over the last 35 years in bringing judicial actions, bringing an average of 57 actions annually, far more than any other President over that time (the next closest was President George W. Bush with 36 actions annually). While Vladeck's strong words seem to be focused on consumer scams and other types of fraud, reputable businesses should also take note, particularly with respect to their advertising practices. As companies continue to come up with innovative ways to reach their customers (see, for example, Twitter's new targeted advertising tool), it is important that they understand the regulatory landscape in which they operate. As a baseline, advertisers should ensure that their ads are not misleading, and that their corresponding privacy policies are current and truthful. However, it is also important for the FTC to understand the realities of a competitive landscape and refrain from creating a chilling effect on innovation and competition by over regulation and aggression.… Continue Reading

FTC to MySpace: Watch What You Do in Consumers’ Space

On Tuesday, the FTC approved a final order and consent decree settling charges that MySpace misrepresented its protection of users’ personal information. The settlement bars MySpace from future misrepresentations about its privacy practices, and requires MySpace to implement a comprehensive privacy program with regular, independent privacy assessments for the next 20 years. For more information, … Continue Reading

Sorry, Your Baby Can’t Read

Just before Labor Day, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed false advertising charges against the marketers of "Your Baby Can Read!" The program, widely promoted via infomercials and the Internet, purports to use videos, flash cards and pop-up books to teach babies as young as 3 months old how to read. The complaint charges Your Baby, LLC, its former CEO, and the program's creator, Dr. Robert Titzer, with false and deceptive advertising and deceptive expert endorsements. According to the complaint, the defendants failed to provide competent and reliable scientific evidence that babies can learn to read using the program, or that children at age 3 or 4 can learn to read books such as Charlotte's Web or Harry Potter.… Continue Reading

FTC Issues Guidance to Mobile App Developers

On September 5, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission published "Marketing Your Mobile App: Get It Right from the Start", a set of guides addressing compliance with truth in lending and privacy principles for mobile app developers. Disclosures and privacy protection for mobile apps is a major issue and the FTC's guidance is important. In their summary, the FTC provided an overview that advised that app developers: Tell the Truth About What Your App Can Do Disclose Key Information Clearly and Conspicuously Build Privacy Considerations in From the Start Offer Choices that are Easy to Find and Easy to Use Honor Your Privacy Promises Protect Kids' Privacy Collect Sensitive Information Only with Consent Keep User Data Secure Pretty basic stuff, but the reminders from the FTC are well taken and should be carefully digested by anyone in the mobile app business, whether they're developers or marketers. For a copy of the full publication, click here.… Continue Reading

FTC COPPA Rule Revision Comments-Deadline Extended to December 23

No need to fret over Thanksgiving! The Federal Trade Commission has extended until December 23, 2011, the deadline for the public to submit comments on proposed amendments to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule. That’s good news because the revisions are significant and include the demise of the flexible "sliding scale" approach that permitted operators … Continue Reading
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