At the FTC, we consider policy developments or proposed rule changes one rung at a time. An integral step in that process is the public comment period. If you have clients interested in two matters pending at the FTC, they have more time to put pen to paper.
A. This company just settled a case with the FTC for Do Not Call violations and deceptive promises that its purported educational products would improve kids’ grades and standardized test scores.
Q. What is WordSmart?
We’re not saying it’s the most important phone message since “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” But the FTC hopes a $105 million settlement with AT&T Mobility stemming from unauthorized charges on consumers’ mobile phone bills will motivate industry members to listen up.
A box of light bulbs. A case of cleaner. Another box of light bulbs. Ordinary supplies that businesses and nonprofits of all sizes use every day. If these things arrive at your office doorstep, someone in your company or organization must have ordered them, right? And when the bill comes, you have to pay it, right? Well, not necessarily.
We can’t vouch for the accuracy of Shakira’s representation that “Hips Don’t Lie.” But the FTC says anti-cellulite and slimming claims for caffeine-embedded underwear sold by lingerie company Wacoal and catalog retailer Norm Thompson were deceptive. As for Norm Thompson's statement that Dr. Oz endorsed its products, the complaint challenges that as false.
One hundred years ago today, the New York Times’ news pages were filled with coverage of the outbreak of World War I in Europe. There were stories about the newly opened Panama Canal and the growing movement for women’s suffrage. For $200, an ad in the paper offered readers the chance to purchase a Victrola phonograph.
If the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent an ad from being deceptive, the disclosure has to be clear and conspicuous. That shouldn’t be news to any advertiser and certainly not to the 60+ companies – including 20 of the 100 biggest advertisers in the U.S. – that received warning letters as a part of the FTC’s Operation Full Disclosure.
History buffs – and fans of the series “Deadwood” – know that promises of riches lured many prospectors west. Now imagine if the general store in Deadwood advertised state-of-the-art shovels, pans, and pick axes necessary for mining, but never delivered the gear or delivered it long after others had mined the prime parcels. That’s pretty much what the FTC says Kansas City-based Butterfly Labs is up to, except that what today’s prospectors are mining are bitcoins.
An online high school that bypasses the pep rallies, proms, and the principal’s office? Under the right circumstances, that might be an innovation in education. But what if it skips the classes and coursework while falsely promising a valid sheepskin from an accredited institution?
Some things you can do in 3 minutes: Drink a glass of water. Send a short email. Feed the dog. According to ICON Health and Fitness, in just 3 short minutes a day, consumers could drop pounds, inches, and clothing sizes by using its Pro-Form ab GLIDER line of exercise equipment.
Say a consumer is thinking about buying something. They give a company information that would be necessary if they ultimately decide to make the purchase. Now suppose the company auctions off that data to the highest bidder, who completes the transaction without ever getting the consumer’s consent to the terms.
Fans of Tiny Pets, Tiny Zoo, Tiny Village, Tiny Monsters, and Mermaid Resort will be relieved to know that adorable Sully the Dog and arch-nemesis Duke Spendington haven’t been named in their individual capacities. But the developer of those kid-directed apps – San-Francisco-based TinyCo, Inc. – just settled an FTC lawsuit alleging the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.
This is a post about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. Some readers already have a finger poised over the DELETE button since their business isn’t child-related. But as the FTC’s settlement with Yelp suggests, that would be a mistake.
Big Data is a big deal for businesses, consumers, academics, and policymakers. There's no doubt it opens the door to more powerful analytical techniques that can advance medical research, education, transportation, etc. But some have voiced concerns about whether it may be used to categorize consumers in ways that may affect them unfairly, or even unlawfully. That's the topic on the table at an FTC workshop, Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?, and it's happening today,
Companies that sign settlements with the FTC need to know that those documents contain consumer protection provisions enforceable in court. That’s the message of a motion for contempt just filed against Bayer Corporation by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, with the assistance of the FTC.
“Get High School Skinny!” That was one pitch Georgia-based HealthyLife Sciences made for its Healthe Trim line of diet products. The company’s radio ads, TV commercials, and website promised it all. Just a couple of capsules in the morning would burn fat, boost metabolism, and suppress the appetite, leading to the fast and easy loss of as much as 19 pounds the first week. But according to a proposed FTC settlement, the real result was the fast and easy loss of
There's an abundant natural resource that’s underused in the U.S. – and unleashing its power could make a major contribution to economic independence.
It’s the expertise and experience of America’s older consumers.
Just as Helen of Troy has gone down in history as The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships, a seriously flawed study purporting to show that green coffee bean extract is scientifically proven to cause weight loss may be remembered as The Fake that Launched a Thousand Slips. An FTC settlement with Applied Food Sciences, Inc. – whose ingredient has been promoted everywhere from diet pill ads to The Dr.
The polar bears and penguins sold within kids’ apps offered in the Google Play Store may have been virtual, but the unauthorized charges Moms and Dads got stuck with were all too real. A proposed FTC settlement will refund at least $19 million to parents whose accounts were charged illegally, according to the complaint, and will implement enforceable changes in how Google handles in-app purchases. Of course, the order applies just to Google, but the case o
If it were a 50s scifi movie, we’d call it “Invasion of the Serenity Snatchers” – illegal and annoying robocalls that disturb consumers’ peace and quiet. The battle continues, of course, but we’re happy to announce the winners of the FTC’s “Zapping Rachel” contest held just a few weeks ago at DEF CON 22.
The contest challenged participants to design a robocall honeypot, a system for attracting robocallers. It’s a critical tool for helping law enforcers, researchers, and others enhance our understanding of robocallers’ tricky tactics.