Business Blog

Present perfect

This time of year retailers look forward to the sweet harmony of silver bells, laughing voices, and the cha-ching of registers. Here are some steps you can take to ensure a happier holiday for your business — and your customers.

Cite for sore eyes

Visiting the BCP Business Center for the latest dos ‘n’ don’ts about making those peepers of yours positively pop? We didn’t think so. But there’s a makeover lesson nonetheless in three FTC law enforcement settlements with online retailers who sold “circle contacts” without a prescription, in violation of the Contact Lens Rule.

Lessons from the Facebook settlement (even if you’re not Facebook)

The terms of the FTC’s proposed settlement apply only to Facebook. But to paraphrase noted legal scholar Bob Dylan, companies that want to stay off the law enforcement radar don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. What practical pointers can your business take from the Facebook case and other recent FTC actions dealing with consumer privacy?

Facebook’s future: What the FTC order means for consumer privacy

The FTC’s complaint against Facebook outlines eight separate areas where the FTC says Facebook’s privacy practices were deceptive or unfair. What provisions does the proposed order put in place to protect people in the future?

One key provision is a broad ban on deception. Facebook can’t misrepresent the privacy or security protections that apply to any “covered information.” The order defines that as information “from or about” an individual consumer like:

The name game

“Shirley, Shirley, Bo Birley, Banana Fana Fo Firley.” When Shirley Ellis sang the song back in the 60s, it was called “The Name Game.” But when people buy products containing fur, the name is no game.

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.

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