Business Blog

Less than meets the eye?

When an ad purports to show a “right before your eyes” demonstration of a product in action, the visual must be a truthful representation of what it can do.  If that’s not the case, both the advertiser and the ad agency can find themselves in law enforcement quicksand.  That may have been news to Don Draper and his colleagues at Sterling Cooper in the early 60s, but it’s been a well-established legal tenet since then.  The FTC’s complaint against Nissan North Amer

FTC says diaper claims didn't pass the smell test

What do dirty diapers and deceptive ads have in common?  (We’ll pause a moment so you can add your own punch line.)  Now that’s out of the way, the action against Portland-based Down to Earth Designs – consumers know them as gDiapers – is the FTC's latest effort to ensure the accuracy of environmental marketing claims.  But even if green isn't your game, the case also offers insights into what the FTC calls "unqualified claims."

8 advertising potholes auto dealers should avoid

In a drive to encourage truth in auto advertising, the FTC has announced Operation Steer Clear – a coast-to-coast law enforcement sweep focusing on deceptive TV, newspaper, and online claims about sales, financing, and leasing.  If you have clients in the auto industry, the lessons of Operation Steer Clear can help keep them on the right track.

FTC to advertisers: 7 New Year's resolutions

Sprinkle it on food.  Slather it on skin.  Place drops under the tongue.  Regardless of how consumers use your product, if you make weight loss claims, here’s a New Year’s resolution to consider:  Make sure you have sound science to support what you say.  That’s just one message marketers can take from FTC actions against Sensa, L’Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa, settlements that will return big money back to consumers – including $26.5 million to peop

When a data oops becomes an uh-oh

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:  Glitch Happens.  In the case of Accretive Health, Inc., it was a laptop taken from the passenger compartment of an employee’s car.  What transformed this oops into a full-fledged uh-oh was that the laptop contained files with 20 million pieces of data about 23,000 patients, including sensitive health information.  And according to the FTC’s lawsuit, the employee in question didn’t need all that

COPPA crowdsourcing. Yeah, really.

We got an interesting suggestion recently.  “With how fast technology changes, how about building in a process so companies can see if newer methods meet the requirements of existing rules?”  A related recommendation:  Crowdsourcing.  “The FTC could publicize an idea and get feedback from people.”  We’re fans of innovation, too, which is why the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule includes a procedure for companies to ask if methods of getting parental consent not listed in COPPA nonetheless meet the Rule’s standards.  As for crowdsourcing, we call it a notice and request for public

Risky business

No one is sliding across the living room floor in shades lip synching to Bob Seger, but violating the FTC’s Risk-Based Pricing Rule is risky business nonetheless. That’s the message of the FTC’s $1.9 million settlement with telecom company Time Warner Cable, Inc., the first case brought under the Risk-Based Pricing Rule.

Shedding light on what your app is up to: 3 lessons for developers

Goldenshores Technologies’ “Brightest Flashlight Free” is an incredibly popular Android app downloaded by tens of millions of consumers.  But did those people know that when they used the app, it would transmit their precise location and unique device identifier to third parties, including ad networks?  According to a lawsuit filed by the FTC, Goldenshores didn’t give people the straight story about how their information would be used and then compounded the problem by making them think they could exercise a choice about it – a “ch

And now for something completely different

Take out your mobile device where you input all that personal information and make note of three upcoming FTC events where the topic of conversation will be, well, the collection and use of all that personal information.  But this time we're switching things up a bit.  The FTC's Spring Privacy Series will consist of three two-hour seminars focused on emerging issues that consumers, industry groups, consumer advocates, and academics are starting to talk about.

After the cameras stop rolling

Every so often, the FTC announces a law enforcement sweep targeting a particular kind of deceptive practice.  Sometimes there’s a press conference featuring federal agencies and state AGs.  Blue suits and official seals abound.  A typical headline:  “More Than 70 Actions Brought By FTC and Its Law Enforcement Partners.”  But do you ever wonder what happens after the cameras stop rolling?

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