If you work in the telecommunications field, you’ll want to follow the FTC’s pending lawsuit against Millennium Telecard. But even if telecom isn’t your line, the case illustrates a key principle of FTC advertising law: “What the headline giveth, the fine print cannot taketh away.”
You run a successful business or maybe you work with some of the top companies in the country. A friend or relative is struggling to climb out of a financial hole. They ask for advice about a can’t-miss “wealth-building program.” Do them a favor and suggest they apply the brakes before shelling out a penny.
We’re still waiting for George Jetson’s promised jetpacks, but car buyers have started to see transportation options not available just a few years ago. That’s one reason the FTC has begun a review the Alternative Fuels Rule and seeks your input about the rule’s costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact.
Where were you in 2000? Tooling around on your scooter listening to CDs by Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, and Creed? Joining the 50 million Americans who watched the latest TV sensation “Survivor”? Grateful the Y2K bug didn’t send us back to the Stone Age? Reading Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising, the FTC’s first guidance document on how federal advertising laws apply to advertising and sales on the Internet?
You can swim freestyle. You can work freelance. And there are those among us who still hold up lighters and yell “Play Free Bird.” But for marketers, one thing you can’t do is advertise a product as free and then bill customers’ credit cards — not once and certainly not over and over and over again.
But wait! There's more! In addition to the myths about the rulemaking process in the last post, others have suggested misconceptions to include on the list.
“Let the lawyers handle the comments.” Not necessarily. Legal perspectives add to the conversation, of course, but just about every FTC staffer who’s worked on a rulemaking has a story to tell about a practical point raised by a business person or consumer that led to a change in the final rule.
You’ve seen the sentence when the FTC announces that it’s thinking about putting a new rule in place or changing what’s already on the books: “Interested parties are invited to submit comments. . . .”. The alphabet soup of the administrative process can be a bit daunting at first: ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), FRN (Federal Register Notice), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), SBP (Statement of Basis and Purpose). When it comes to the rulemaking process at the FTC, here are six common myths — and the straight scoop.
For some businesses, virtual worlds aren’t on their radar screen. They have their hands full with this one, thanks. But for more and more people — including kids — online virtual worlds have become a central place for gaming and other activities. As the FTC’s recent $3 million settlement with Playdom and Howard Marks demonstrates, companies with an online presence need to take care to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the
By now, you’ve had a chance to read the proposed voluntary principles published on April 28, 2011, by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children. Made up of representatives from the FTC, FDA, USDA, and CDC, the group issued a draft calling on the food industry voluntarily to step up its efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods they market directly to kids ages 2 to 17. The proposal — which isn’t a regulation — suggests ways to strengthen the voluntary efforts that are already underway.
With a corporate name like Lookout, it pays to — well — look out. Unfortunately, according to the FTC’s complaint against Lookout Services, Inc., the company’s questionable security practices left the door open for an employee of one of Lookout’s customers to access sensitive information, including Social Security numbers, of thousands of people.
The French movie classic “The Wages of Fear” — remade in 1977 as “The Sorcerer” by American director William Friedkin — was a taut thriller about a team of toughs transporting a payload of volatile nitroglycerine to a remote location in South America. They meet with hazards along the way: a rope bridge hanging by a thread over a flood-swollen river, a boulder blocking a twisted mountain path, and a stretch of road so pot-holed it’s called “The Washboard.”
Busy business executives and the attorneys who represent them need to unwind now and then. If PlayStation is your diversion-of-choice — or the choice of family members — you’ve probably heard the news that Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity service were hacked and that user data may have been compromised. It’s not clear right now what info was stolen, but the services held user IDs and passwords, email addresses, birth dates, street addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and payment histories. Are you taking steps to reduce the risk of ID theft as a result of the hack? H
When browsing for a riveting read at the local bookstore, you might pick up a John Grisham or dive into a Stieg Larsson. Unlike those best sellers, one author’s name that might not jump off the jacket is “Interagency Working Group.” But in the case of the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children’s hot-off-the-presses Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts (try tweeting that) you really can’t judge a book by its cover.
Cell phones, email, social media, auto-dialers, databases, and payment portals. This ain’t your Father’s debt collection business. That’s why an April 28, 2011, FTC workshop, Debt Collection 2.0: Protecting Consumers as Technologies Change, will focus on the impact developments like these are having on the consumer debt collection system. As the agenda shows, the conversation will center on how technologies affect debt collectors’ compliance with the law and the consumer protection concerns these new methods
If you haven’t seen the ads, you’ve probably been too busy listening to eight-tracks and playing Pong because billions — with a capital B — have been served up online. They look like news investigations about acai berry weight loss products conducted by independent journalists for reputable news outlets featuring the logos of national media and follow-up comments by satisfied consumers.
Science, studies, and statistics. There’s a reason advertisers feature them so prominently. When used accurately, they can be powerful tools for distinguishing your product from the competitors. But scientific claims — especially health-related ones — need solid proof. That was the cause of the recent legal dust-up between the FTC and Oreck Corporation involving the Oreck Halo vacuum and the Oreck ProShield Plus portable room air cleaner.
Those were the allegations in the FTC’s complaint against Google. What changes will the agency’s proposed settlement bring about at the company?
It may have happened to an employee, one of your customers, or a member of your family. Someone calls to report “You’re a winner!” of a foreign lottery. To collect, all they have to do is wire money to cover the taxes and fees. Or the caller impersonates a grandchild or other friend-in-need and says they’re desperate to have money wired now. Both are examples of the elaborate schemes scam artists have come up with to try to convince people to wire cash to someone they don’t know.
As any business knows, it is indeed a small world after all. And the FTC’s recent settlement with Google related to the launch of its Google Buzz social network demonstrates why it’s important for companies to think about the global ramifications of their privacy practices.
According to the FTC’s recent settlement with Google, when people declined to sign up for Google Buzz, the company’s new social network, Google nonetheless enrolled them in certain features without their consent.
But what about people who clicked the link that said “Sweet! Check out Buzz”? The FTC’s complaint alleged that they, too, weren’t adequately informed that certain information that had been private — including the people they chatted with or emailed most often — would be shared publicly by default.