Business Blog

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Protecting Privacy in Transatlantic Data Flows: The EU–U.S. Privacy Shield

Commercial cross-border data flows continue to grow in our internet-enabled economy. These data flows, often involving personal data, support innovative new business services and consumer products. At the same time, they raise questions of how to protect privacy across borders. Various mechanisms help both businesses and consumers with this challenge. One in which the FTC plays a key role is the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.

BOTS Act: That’s the ticket!

It used to be a rite of passage: spending the night in a line outside the box office to score tickets to the Stones, Springsteen, or [insert your favorite group here]. The convenience of internet ticket sales ended the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk ritual. But online ticket sales raised another concern: Were prospective buyers losing out to computer programs that scooped up the best seats only to resell them at inflated prices?

Connected, collected, protected? FTC-NHTSA event explores drive toward connected cars

In the 80s, the appropriately-named group The Cars asked the musical question, “Who’s gonna drive you home?” The FTC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are hosting a workshop on June 28, 2017, to examine the consumer privacy and security implications of automated and connected motor vehicles. The questions won’t be of the musical variety, but we have a list of them and welcome your input.

Annual highlights shed light on FTC year in review

On the first day of law school, students learn the Latin maxim Res ipsa loquitor – “The thing speaks for itself.” Pardon the inaccurate translation, but in the case of the FTC’s Annual Highlights, we think Tabula crustum ipsa loquitor – “The pie chart speaks for itself.” In other words, the statistical recap of the past year tells an important story about what the FTC is doing to protect consumers and promote competition.

FTC alleges deceptive “free” offers teed off golfers and left home chefs feeling burned

When websites prominently advertised “FREE!” golf balls and other gear, duffers and low-handicappers alike swung for the deal. But according to the FTC, 10 related defendants drove consumers into the rough with poorly disclosed terms and conditions, deceptive negative options, and misleading upsells, in violation of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

Upromise?

If you make promises to consumers, you must honor them – and if you sign an FTC order, you must comply with it. That’s the lesson learned by Upromise, a college savings website, which must pay $500,000 for violating its existing FTC order.

Not familiar with Upromise? It offers free memberships that allow consumers to earn cash-back rewards on certain purchases. Members can direct those rewards to a college savings plan or to pay down student loans.

FTC alleges company’s practices are “patently” deceptive

Threats of imprisonment, warnings about extortion, and a security team allegedly comprised of ex-Israeli Special Ops trained in Krav Maga? It sounds like an action-packed movie plot, but it’s all related to a complaint filed by the FTC. And you’ll never guess the nature of the defendants’ business.

They sell patent and invention promotion services – or at least that’s what defendants World Patent Marketing, Desa Industries, and CEO Scott Cooper claim.

New video on the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and the FTC

Businesses often ask: “If I comply with the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, am I complying with what the FTC requires?” Maybe you read our blog explaining how the NIST Cybersecurity Framework relates to the FTC’s work on data security? Now, check out this related video featuring Andrea Arias, an attorney in the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.

FinTech Forum: A closer look at peer-to-peer payment systems and crowdfunding platforms

Financial technology remains a hot topic for consumers, offering the possibilities of increased convenience and access to financial services at a lower cost. As part of its FinTech Forum series, the FTC continues to promote public discussion of the ways in which innovative FinTech services – many provided by non-banks and technology companies within the FTC’s jurisdiction – can benefit consumers and the potential issues for stakeholders to keep in mind.

Celebrating small business during National Consumer Protection Week

Today kicks off National Consumer Protection Week, but what the FTC does to protect consumers is only part of the story. We also work hard to help small business get down to business. Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing to protect your business from deceptive practices.

Has a phishing scam hooked your company’s good name?

When internet fraudsters mimic a legitimate business to trick consumers into giving out their personal information, it’s called phishing. It’s not just a problem for consumers, but for the companies the scammers are impersonating too. The FTC has long provided advice to consumers about steps they can take to avoid phishing scams. But what should you do if customers contact your company upset that they responded to a phishing email from a scammer impersonating your legitimate business?

Third FinTech Forum to discuss artificial intelligence and blockchain

Artificial intelligence and blockchain. If those terms relate to your company’s work, you might want to mark March 9, 2017, on your calendar. If you have financial services clients and you’re not up to speed on how either artificial intelligence or blockchain relates to their business, you’ll definitely want to reserve March 9th for the FTC’s third FinTech Forum.

FTC and NASCO to explore consumer protection and charitable solicitations

Americans are among the most generous people in the world, contributing more than $373 billion to charity in 2015, according to The Giving Institute. Not only are Americans giving more to charity, but evolving marketing practices and new technologies have introduced different ways for organizations to accept donations and new challenges for consumer protection law enforcement and education.

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