Business Blog

New privacy system for movement of consumer data between US & Asia-Pacific economies

If your company does business in the Asia-Pacific region — or if you work with clients from that part of the global economy — you’ll want to follow recent developments in the privacy arena. This week, the FTC welcomed the approval by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) of a new initiative to harmonize cross-border data privacy protection among members of APEC.

Is it insurance? Putting a premium on truth

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s self-employed, healthcare costs remain a concern.  So a phone call pitching what sounds like comprehensive health insurance coverage might attract your interest.  Except that according to the FTC and the Tennessee Attorney General, what United States Benefits LLC was selling wasn’t really health insurance.

What businesses can do to support the troops on Veterans Day

You might do business with members of the military community — or they could be your employees, neighbors, family and friends.  On this Veterans Day, you may be considering a donation to a charity that assists veterans, active-duty personnel, or military families.  But not all “charities” are legitimate:  Some are sham operators whose only purpose is to make money for themselves.  Others use paid fundraisers whose fees eat up most of a donation, so very little of it is shared with those in need.

COPPA: All skidding aside

It billed itself as “Facebook and Myspace for kids,” but according to a settlement with the FTC, the Skid-e-Kids website failed to meet critical compliance obligations under COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  As a result, the FTC says the site collected personal information from about 5,600 kids without their parents’ consent.

Flash in the pan?

Businesses have wised up that their customers are concerned about privacy. That’s why privacy promises, like any other claim you convey, have to be truthful. So when you describe how you use — and don’t use — people’s information, be sure to give them the straight story, avoiding steps that would undermine their privacy choices. That’s the nuts-and-bolts conclusion companies should draw from the FTC’s settlement with ScanScout, the first agency action addressing Flash cookies.

CSI: B2B

Most marketers follow FTC happenings to get the latest on legal compliance. But while you’re visiting the Business Center, check out what BCP is doing to protect small businesses in their role as consumers. Getting the inside scoop on how B2B scams work will help you shield your company from fraudsters in the future.

The eyes of textiles

The FTC’s 100th birthday is looming (and it doesn’t look a day over 85, if we do say so ourselves).  Ever wonder what the FTC’s very first published law enforcement action — 1 F.T.C. 1 — involved?  It dealt with a company that sold thread deceptively labeled as “cilk.”  Fast forward a century and people still want to know for certain that the cotton shirt they’re buying is made of cotton.

Quoth the Maven

In celebration of Halloween — and with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe — here’s our take on what companies can do to make sure spooky business practices don’t come back to haunt them.

Once upon a midnight lawful
Pondering practices, good and awful,
Reading through the U.S. Code
For dos and don’ts I parse and claw.

Mark your calendar

If you use the BCP Business Center, you know it’s a great source of practical compliance tips on advertising, telemarketing, online privacy, data security, and other topics. If you’re reading our blog, you know it’s a quick — and original — take on the latest developments in BCP enforcement, policy development, research, and education.

Strike a pose?

Usually it’s the process server who uses a disguise — pretending to be a delivery man or repair person to catch someone off guard. But in a

Auto-biography: The next chapter

The FTC’s motor vehicle roundtables are rolling along.  The next stop for The Road Ahead: Selling, Financing and Leasing Motor Vehicles is Washington, D.C., on November 17th.  The Roundtable — which will take place in the FTC’s New Jersey Avenue Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. — will focus on leasing, a look back at what the FTC has learned throughout the course of the roundtables, and where the FTC should go from here.

Remembering Virginia Knauer

Next time you’re at the grocery store and flip around a package to check out the ingredients or calorie count, take the opportunity to remember the contribution of Virginia Knauer, who served Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan in high-level consumer affairs positions.

Ms. Knauer held some pretty daring opinions in her day.  At a time when sellers of dog food — but not people food — had to disclose what was inside the package, she advocated for detailed product labeling.

Stars, stripes – and scams

Between the picture of the President and Vice-President standing in front of the American flag and the references to government funds to stabilize the economy, it’s understandable that people who signed up for the service advertised on the Grant Connect website thought they were on their way to landing a grant.  Promoters even described Grant Connect as “a unique, consumer-friendly US government grant program that delivers all of the tools for the consumer to search multiple databases, write grant proposals, and deliver polished plans. . .”

Reader discretion advised

It’s unusual for an FTC court document to come with a warning label, but the allegations contained in a recent debt collection case against an outfit doing business as Rumson, Bolling & Associates aren’t for the faint of heart.  According to the FTC, the defendants harassed debtors with abusive and profane language, including threats to harm their family members, kill their pets, and desecrate the bodies of their deceased loved ones.  And that’s just for starters.

(De)fault lines

When people get the latest software, app, or gizmo, it comes with default settings configured by the company responsible for the product. The FTC’s settlement with Frostwire, a developer of free peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software, raises interesting issues for industry. When can a company’s choice of default settings amount to an unfair practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act? And when can a company’s representations about default settings be considered deceptive?

Our favorite things

Like Maria in The Sound of Music, brown paper packages tied up with strings are a few of our favorite things. So it's no surprise that catalog and online shopping has become a time saving essential for millions of Americans.

FTC 86s LOAN MOD TXTS

FTC watchers will remember Phillip A. Flora.  In the first case of its kind, the FTC alleged that Mr. Flora was a One-Man Message Machine, churning out a “mind-boggling” number of unsolicited commercial text messages pitching mortgage modification services.  How many did he send?  According to the FTC, <Carl Sagan voice> millions and millions </Carl Sagan voice>.

Pages