Business Blog

Kids’ Apps Disclosures Revisited

What information are kids’ app developers collecting, who are they sharing it with, and what are they telling parents about their practices? The FTC staff first asked those questions in 2012. Fast forward three years, and how have things changed? According to the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation, the glass is both half-full and half-empty.

When buzz goes bad

It’s one thing to create buzz about a product. But fail to disclose a material connection between an endorser and an advertiser and that buzz can wind up stinging you. That’s the message of an FTC lawsuit against Machinima, a top entertainment network on YouTube that specializes in videogame culture and generates more than 3 billion (with a b) views each month.

Self-regulation and debt buying

Last year the FTC received 280,998 complaints about questionable debt collection practices. We think consumers and responsible members of the industry can agree that number is higher than it should be. The FTC is fighting that battle on three fronts. We’ve brought dozens of cases – both on our own and with state partners – to enforce the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Section 5.

Trip the light? Fantastic.

It doesn’t take much to convince us we need something new for the shoe closet – and our vintage high-tops and periwinkle platforms stand as a silent testament to that. But an ultraviolet light contraption advertised to kill germs, fungus, and bacteria, including MRSA, inside shoes? An FTC settlement with the marketers of shUVee gives the boot to those misleading claims.

RoboKill the robocall?

The search for the Death Star that will destroy illegal robocalls once and for all is still underway, but the solution is one step closer. The FTC just announced that judges have selected winners in Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back, a contest to come up with tech tools to further the fight against annoying pre-recorded calls. The winner: a mobile app that blocks and forwards robocalls to a crowd-sourced honeypot.

U.S.-EU Safe Harbor compliance: Don’t run aground

An app developer, a medical waste company, a skateboard event sponsor, a stock car racing school, and a bagel purveyor. That’s either the strangest answer to a Jeopardy! question – or a partial list of companies that just settled FTC charges that they falsely claimed they were certified members of the U.S.-EU or U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Framework.

A word about passwords

On the old game show “Password,” the host whispered a word to contestants, who then gave clues to celebrities. The first to guess correctly advanced to the Lighting Round. The loser went home with a year’s supply of car wax.

Leading questions?

It’s a common occurrence. People looking online for a product or service – say, a loan or an educational program – find themselves on a site that asks for their personal information. The idea is that consumers will be connected with a company in that business. That exchange of information might offer an easy way to put buyers and sellers together. But sometimes the data wends its way through multiple hands before reaching the business selling what the consumer is looking for.

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