Last week, TRUSTe, Inc. (“TRUSTe”) settled Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) charges that it misrepresented its certification programs and non-profit status to consumers.  TRUSTe offers clients Certified Privacy Seals, representing to consumers that the website, software, data processing service, or mobile application is compliant with the relevant TRUSTe program.  These programs include specifications related to transparency of company practices, verification of privacy practices, and consumer choice regarding the collection and use of consumer personal information.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that TRUSTe represents that it annually recertifies all companies displaying the Certified Privacy Seal to ensure ongoing compliance with the program requirements, however, from 2006 until January 2013, TRUSTe did not do so in over 1,000 instances.  According to the complaint, prior to its transition to a for-profit entity in July 2008, TRUSTe required its clients’ privacy policies to include a statement that “TRUSTe is an independent, non-profit organization.”  The FTC also alleges that TRUSTe recertified clients who failed to update references to the company’s for-profit status.
Continue Reading FTC Alleges TRUSTe’s Certified Privacy Seals Misled Consumers

Two reports have recently been released that look at consumer perceptions of online privacy issues and examine user tracking practices on popular websites.

TRUSTe Privacy Index

TRUSTe released its Privacy Index for the second quarter of 2012, which measures consumer confidence in their online privacy.  The numbers show that consumers are concerned about web privacy issues and make decisions based on perceptions of companies’ privacy practices.

Consumer concern and mistrust about online privacy are up from Q1.  In the latest Privacy Index, 91% of U.S. adults say they worry about their privacy online (versus 90% in Q1), and 53% say they do not completely trust businesses with their information (versus 41% in Q1). 

The percent of adults that say privacy issues impact their buying decisions has remained steady.  88% of adults say they avoid companies that they believe do not protect their privacy.

Continue Reading Two Recent Privacy Reports on Consumer Confidence and Website Tracking Practices

In the face of calls by the FTC for improved mobile privacy protections, as well as interest by members of Congress, mobile advertising companies are actively working on privacy initiatives.  Yesterday, a group of companies in the mobile advertising industry announced that they are working to create an industry standard for anonymous mobile device identification.