Federal Trade Commission

On September 29, 2021, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled “Protecting Consumer Privacy.”  The hearing centered on strengthening consumer privacy rights, including by increasing the FTC’s resources and creating a comprehensive federal privacy law.

To explore these issues, the Committee invited David Vladeck, Professor and Faculty Director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law and former Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection; Morgan Reed, President of The App Association; Maureen Ohlhausen, Partner and Section Chair (Antitrust & Competition Law) at Baker Botts and former Acting Chairman of the FTC; and Ashkan Soltani, Independent Researcher and Technologist and former Chief Technologist of the FTC.
Continue Reading Consumer Privacy Hearing Focuses on Expanding FTC Resources, Creating Federal Privacy Law

On September 15, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) adopted, on a 3-2 party-line vote, a policy statement that takes a broad view of which health apps and connected devices are subject to the FTC’s Health Breach Notification Rule (the “Rule”) and what triggers the Rule’s notification requirement.

The Rule was promulgated in 2009 under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (“HITECH”) Act.  Under the Rule, vendors of personal health records that are not otherwise regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) are required to notify individuals, the FTC, and, in some cases, the media following a breach involving unsecured identifiable health information.  Third-party service providers also are required to notify covered vendors of any breach.
Continue Reading FTC Adopts Policy Statement on Privacy Breaches by Health Apps and Connected Devices

Yesterday, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) introduced an updated version of the “Protecting the Information of our Vulnerable Children and Youth Act” (Kids PRIVCY Act), which would make broad changes the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  Rep. Castor introduced a similar bill in early 2020, but it stalled alongside other proposals to overhaul the federal children’s privacy law last year.
Continue Reading Rep. Castor Reintroduces Bill to Rewrite the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

To add to the growing list of federal privacy frameworks introduced this year, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has re-introduced the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2021 (S. 1667).  Senator Klobuchar introduced the bill originally in 2018 and 2019, although it did not advance to committee in either instance.  Senators Kennedy (R-LA), Burr (R-NC), and Manchin (D-WV) have co-sponsored the bill.

Key provisions in this bill include:
Continue Reading New Privacy Bill Provides Opt-Out Rights and New Data Security Requirements

As the push for Congress to pass comprehensive consumer privacy legislation increases, Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) has re-introduced the Information Transparency & Personal Data Control Act, a compromise proposal that contains provisions sought by both parties.  This bill would create national data privacy standards and increase the enforcement authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general.
Continue Reading Bill Introduced Would Preempt State Laws and Strengthen FTC Enforcement 

With a new administration and a new Congress come key leadership changes and new priorities at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  The change in administration paves the way for a Democratic-led Commission, though a permanent FTC Chairman and a successor to Commissioner Chopra (who has been nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) might not be confirmed for several months.  In the meantime, President Biden has appointed sitting Commissioner Slaughter to serve as Acting Chair.
Continue Reading What A New Administration Means for the FTC’s Data Privacy & Security Enforcement Agenda

On January 7, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) reached a proposed settlement with Tapjoy, a California-based company that operates an advertising platform within mobile gaming applications.  According to its complaint, the FTC alleges that Tapjoy deceived consumers by failing to provide in-game rewards it promised for completing actions associated with third-party advertisements.
Continue Reading FTC Reaches Settlement with Tapjoy for Allegedly Deceiving Consumers About In-Game Rewards

On Wednesday, January 13, the Supreme Court heard arguments in AMG Capital Management LLC v. Federal Trade Commission.  This case raises the question whether the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been properly using Section 13(b) of the FTC Act, the provision authorizing requests for preliminary and permanent injunctions where the FTC believes the defendant

The FTC recently updated Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions, the set of FAQs meant to provide informal guidance for complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Commission-issued COPPA Rule.  In an accompanying blog post, the FTC staff emphasized that the revisions to the FAQs “don’t raise new policy issues” and that they were implemented primarily to streamline and reorganize the content “to make the document easier to use.”  While the new FAQs generally only reinforce concepts from recent key settlements, enforcement policy positions, and separately-issued regulatory guidance, some of the updates also provide helpful additional context around specific issues such as mixed audience sites and services, age gates, and common consent mechanisms.
Continue Reading Federal Trade Commission Updates, Streamlines COPPA FAQs

As consumers rely more and more on the “independent” reviews of their peers in choosing products and services, advertisers need to remain vigilant that their role (if any) in disseminating such reviews is fairly disclosed, accurate and not misleading.  The pitfalls in this area were recently illustrated by a pair of enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.  These actions, the latest in a series of similar enforcement efforts, confirm that review sites remain a hotbed of enforcement activity, and both actions serve as good reminders of the standards that review sites must observe to avoid similar actions.

The first of these actions is an FTC enforcement against LendEDU, which centered around the “objective,” “honest,” “accurate,” and “unbiased” rankings of financial products that LendEDU posted to its review site.  The FTC alleged that, far from being objective and honest, these rankings were in fact determined based on compensation from the companies being ranked.  In addition, the FTC alleged that over ninety percent of LendEDU’s “unbiased” positive reviews were in fact written by LendEDU employees and their friends and families.
Continue Reading FTC and NAD Actions Highlight Continued Scrutiny of Online Reviews