In just a few years, the FTC’s PrivacyCon has become an Information All-Star Game, complete with panels as high-flying or power-hitting as the Slam Dunk Contest or Home Run Derby. (OK. High-flying and power-hitting if you’re a researcher, academic, or advocate interested in data security and consumer privacy.) The FTC just announced the agenda for the fourth annual PrivacyCon on June 27, 2019. Consult your calendar and save the date.
The domino principle. The ripple effect. The butterfly phenomenon. Apply the analogy of your choice to describe what happens when one software developer’s allegedly lax security practices result in the breach of confidential customer information maintained by multiple businesses that use the software.
The FTC and FDA just sent warning letters to four sellers of e-liquids, the nicotine-laced liquid used in vaping. But even if you don’t have clients in that industry, keep reading. The letters have a lot to say about social media marketing and influencers, regardless of the products they pitch.
Humphrey Bogart said it in “The African Queen” and it was a catchphrase popularized by Jon Lovitz on “Saturday Night Live.” But to the FTC, That’s the Ticket is the name of a June 11, 2019, workshop to explore consumer protection issues related to online ticket sales – and the agenda is out now.
Moon Unit Zappa’s 1982 song “Valley Girl” popularized the phrase “gag me with a spoon.” We doubt the lyric “gag me with a form contract clause” would have been a hit, but it’s among the tactics expressly outlawed by the Consumer Review Fairness Act. As two proposed settlements demonstrate, the FTC thinks gag clauses and similar non-disparagement provisions that violate the CRFA are – to quote Ms. Zappa – grody to the max.
June 1st marks the start of hurricane season, but weather emergencies can happen anytime. The FTC encourages businesses to have a plan in place to safeguard your facilities, products, and data. And we’ve just introduced new resources aimed at helping you protect your workforce.
The term “FinTech” covers a lot of topics central to the FTC’s consumer protection mission – lending, payment systems, data security, privacy, and truth in advertising, to name just a few. So where can businesses go for resources on how established consumer protection standards apply in this emerging marketplace? FinTech-related materials have a new home in the Business Center: a dedicated FinTech page.
Racing to finish your comment about proposed changes to the Safeguards Rule by the impending deadline? You can take a breather because the FTC has extended the deadline by 60 days.
Their lines of work are as different as can be: an HVAC and electrical contractor, a flooring seller, and a company that takes people on horseback rides. But according to the FTC, they have one thing in common. They all violated the Consumer Review Fairness Act. Read on for details about the FTC’s first cases solely enforcing the CRFA, the form contract provisions the FTC says contravened the law, and tips for keeping your contracts CRFA-compliant.
It’s time to get up to speed and down to business. Strictly Business: An FTC Forum on Small Business Financing begins at 8:30 ET today, Wednesday, May 8th. Just in time for National Small Business Week, the half-day workshop will focus on the online marketplace for small business financing.
It’s National Small Business Week, a time when we celebrate the businesses that make our communities thrive. For the FTC, it’s an opportunity to let business owners know that when it comes to protecting your business from cyber threats, you’re not alone. The federal government has resources to help you address common cyber threats and create a culture of cybersecurity at your company. The materials at FTC.gov/Cybersecurity were introduced last year in cooperation with DHS, NIST, and the SBA.
Where do entrepreneurs go if they’re long on ideas, but short on capital? In their short history, crowdfunding platforms have often been the financial sparkplug that ignites the engine of innovation. But some campaigners promote zealously and deliver zilch. According to the FTC, a company raised over $800,000 in four crowdfunding campaigns for a high-tech backpack and other items, but used a large portion of the money on personal expenses.
Kids love to play dress-up, but parents wouldn’t want them rummaging through the attic or climbing to the top shelf of the wardrobe without permission and proper supervision. The i-Dressup.com website offered users – including children – a virtual way to play dress-up and design clothes without those potential dangers.
Suppose a lunch companion says, “I think there’s something wrong with this tuna salad.” To determine if the problem is tuna not to their taste vs. tuna gone bad, would you scarf it down? Probably not. Now remove tuna salad from the example and substitute a web browser extension. (Stay with us here.) Let’s say you’ve been warned that an unknown extension could be used for fraud. Should you download it and let it marinate in your company’s network?
Whether you’re starting a business or trying to grow one, there’s one thing you need to take it to the next level: capital. Entrepreneurs look to traditional lenders, of course, but they’re also turning to the online marketplace to find small business financing. What types of products are available? What are the benefits and the consumer protection considerations?
When a company settles a case with the FTC, it’s not just water under the bridge. An FTC administrative order includes provisions designed to prevent similar deceptive or unfair practices in the future – and violations of those orders may result in civil penalties. The FTC just announced a proposed settlement with Georgia-based iSpring Water Systems for violating a 2017 order related to the company’s Made in USA claims.
“There is nothing new under the sun.” It’s from the Book of Ecclesiastes and who are we to disagree? So even when innovative products enter the market – for example, new platforms offering financial services – fundamental consumer protection principles remain constant. And as the FTC’s $3.85 million settlement with Avant, LLC, demonstrates, that includes representations and practices related to online lending.
“Viagra for the brain.” It’s a slogan designed to attract the attention of consumers concerned about cognition. Then there was a massive online ad campaign of “news” websites featuring supposed testimonials from people like Bill Gates and the now-late Dr. Stephen Hawking. It’s no wonder people forked over millions for supplements that went by names like Geniux, Xcel, EVO, and Ion-Z.
We do our best to keep the puffery in check. So when we say an event features a star-studded line-up of panelists, we think we can substantiate that claim. The FTC’s ongoing Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century have brought luminaries together to discuss the impact on the FTC’s mission of broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, and tech developments.