“Social distancing,” “shelter-in-place,” “virtual happy hour”— these are some of the new expressions on everyone’s lips the past few weeks. For many, add “remote learning” to the list. Because of school closures, millions of students are now using online, education technology (or “ed tech”) services to engage in remote learning from home. And while this fills a vital need, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these ed tech services collect and use student’s personal information.
Headlines tout rapid improvements in artificial intelligence technology. The use of AI technology – machines and algorithms – to make predictions, recommendations, or decisions has enormous potential to improve welfare and productivity. But it also presents risks, such as the potential for unfair or discriminatory outcomes or the perpetuation of existing socioeconomic disparities. Health AI offers a prime example of this tension.
If your business makes “smart” devices, you’ll want to read about Tapplock’s settlement with the FTC. It’s one more example of why businesses in the Internet of Things (IoT) space need to think about privacy and security when designing connected products.
Consumers hate illegal robocalls. And as the thousands of reports pouring into the FTC indicate, they also hate robocalls that exploit concerns about Coronavirus. In recent months, the FTC has taken innovative steps to take on not only illegal robocallers, but also companies that “assist and facilitate” their conduct.
As a business owner, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small business owners to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. And that source, of course, is the Small Business Administration’s dedicated page, sba.gov/coronavirus.
Consumers have come to expect their devices to be portable, but what about their data? The FTC just announced Data to Go, a public workshop set for September 22, 2020, to take a closer look at the potential benefits and challenges to consumers and competition raised by data portability.
If your company has made misleading Made in USA claims and represents that the inaccuracies have been corrected, it’s unwise to put ongoing compliance on the back burner. Conduct like that can move an advertiser out of the frying pan and into the fire. Case in point: the FTC’s proposed complaint alleging that kitchen and home notable Williams-Sonoma falsely represented its signature bakeware line as Made in USA.
Years ago, the Australian group Men at Work asked the musical question “Who Can It Be Now?” In the ongoing battle against Coronavirus scams, FTC staff just sent warning letters to nine companies reminding them of the potential ramifications of behind-the-scenes involvement in illegal COVID-19 promotions.
It’s an unprecedented time. But even in the midst of monumental change, the FTC’s commitment to its consumer protection mission remains constant. Here’s a statement from Chairman Simons about the ongoing work of the Bureau of Consumer Protection:
We’ve warned consumers about Coronavirus-related scams, but businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19. In addition to sharing this information with your employees and social networks, read on for how you can report Coronavirus scams to the FTC.
If you say you’re better, you’d better be better – and you’d better have appropriate proof to back up that claim. That’s a takeaway tip for businesses from the FTC’s proposed settlement with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, LLC.
Even as we all adjust to day-to-day changes, your work – and the work of the FTC – continues. If you’re a technologist or academic interested in presenting your latest research at the FTC’s PrivacyCon 2020, please let us know by April 10, 2020. Check out the Call for Presentations and respond by the deadline.
It’s a disturbing trend. Companies are targeting older consumers, claiming to have easy answers for serious diseases for which there may not be a proven cure. That’s one allegation in the FTC’s action against Nevada-based telemarketer Health Center, Inc. Another count challenges what we call “own-dorsements.”
If your business sells online, the price of the product is only one comparative calculation that consumers consider. Shipping matters, too. Does your business deliver to their location? How much will it cost? When will they get their stuff? Here are some practical principles to apply – and some myths to bust – about shipping products to customers from sea to shining sea.
The practice is called piggybacking, but it’s not child’s play. It’s where a person with iffy credit pays a credit repair company to be listed as an authorized user on the account of someone with good credit – even though they don’t actually have access. The idea is that the person with bad credit can inflate their own credit score and get the money-saving benefits of better credit by “piggybacking” on the credit of a stranger. That’s how a Denver-based business pitched its services to cash-strapped consumers.
When public health concerns hit the headlines, some companies rush to the market with products advertised to prevent or treat the problem. We’re seeing the same thing with the Coronavirus. But do those businesses have proof for their advertising claims, as the FTC requires? And have their products been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA? The FTC and FDA just sent warning letters to seven companies raising concerns about their Coronavirus-related products.
The “what” of the FTC’s settlement with Teami, LLC, shouldn’t come as a surprise. The complaint alleges the defendants took in more than $15 million by deceptively claiming their array of teas could cause rapid and substantial weight loss, “fight against cancerous cells,” decrease migraines, unclog arteries, and prevent colds and flu. What’s different is the “how.” The defendants advertised primarily through a massive social media campaign.
Real estate professionals say it’s all about “location, location, location.” For health-related claims, the FTC says it’s all about “substantiation, substantiation, substantiation.” Marketers of an electric device called Quell claimed their product could treat chronic and severe pain throughout the body caused by conditions as diverse as arthritis, nerve damage, sciatica, shingles, and fibromyalgia. And they said all that could be accomplished by placing their product on one single location below the knee.
Turning eighteen was a momentous birthday for most of us and the same could be said for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule. Finalized in 2002 and in effect since 2003, the Safeguards Rule requires “financial institutions” to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program for handling customer information.
As an essential engine of the American economy, small business has a big impact. But where can small business owners turn for the capital they need to grow? Traditional lenders are one option, but the “It’s a Wonderful Life” image of George Bailey at the Building & Loan may not reflect reality. New online options may broaden the availability of credit, but they also raise some consumer protection concerns.