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Order compliance: A behind-the-scenes look

If the Commission is to attain the objectives Congress envisioned, it cannot be required to confine its road block to the narrow lane the transgressor has traveled; it must be allowed effectively to close all roads to the prohibited goal, so that its order may not be bypassed with impunity.

That’s from the Supreme Court’s 1952 decision in FTC v. Ruberoid, but it also outlines part of the job description of the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Enforcement Division. 

FTC calls Sprint on $2.9 million risk-based pricing violation

Two people walk into a deli and both order a pastrami on rye. When the check arrives, one is charged $8. The other is surprised to get a bill for $15.99. That’s not the start of an old Henny Youngman joke. It’s an analogy that raises some of the issues in the FTC’s proposed $2.95 million settlement with Sprint for allegedly charging customers with lower credit scores a monthly fee without giving them the proper up-front notice required by law.

Matchmaker, matchmaker?

What do lead generators do? They typically identify consumers interested in a particular product or service, collect information from them, and then sell it to third parties. The idea is to match interested buyers and available sellers. But in the meantime, that information – which sometimes includes sensitive personal or financial data – may travel through a long marketing pipeline before reaching the desired business. What are the consumer protection implications?

Start with Security goes on the road again

Austin used to be known for Armadillo World Headquarters and the Stallion Drive-In on North Lamar that served a $4.99 chicken fried steak the size of a manhole cover. But the talk now is tech with a burgeoning industry that manages to keep the city both weird and wired. That’s why the FTC’s Start with Security program is on the road again on November 5th – this time to Austin.

Plans for tonight?

If you have new research you’d like to present at PrivacyCon – the FTC’s January 14, 2016, national conference to explore trends in data security and consumer privacy – we need to hear from you by midnight tonight.

Gagging rights? FTC case challenges diet claims and company’s use of consumer gag clauses

The FTC has gone to court hundreds of times to stop allegedly misleading weight loss claims and Roca Labs’ “gastric bypass alternative” promises are no exception. But other parts of the complaint – including a count challenging the defendants’ use of consumer gag clauses as an unfair practice – warrant a careful reading.

No runs, no hits, three errors

Baseball lore has it that Hall of Famer Ted Williams’ eyesight was so acute he could see the seams on a fastball. Developers of an app called Ultimeyes claimed that using their product “gives baseball players superhuman vision.” For some of us though, a daily task like reading a menu in a dimly lit restaurant is a swing and a miss. No problem, said the company. “25 minutes on this app will improve your vision by 31%” – results supposedly verified by a published university study.

Are you OK with the F-C-R-A?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act isn’t just about credit. If your company uses background checks in making personnel decisions, the FTC reminds you of your obligations under the FCRA. In honor of Throwback Thursday, here’s an unconventional old-school summary of key requirements under federal law. Spin the mirrored disco ball and join us on the dance floor for “F-C-R-A.”

Performing seals

You don’t need to go to a water park to see performing seals. You can spot them on websites where they perform the function of conveying information about the purported environmental benefits of products. But do the groups offering those seals – and the companies that display them – have appropriate proof for the claims consumers take from them? If your clients use environmental seals or certifications, you’ll want to see the latest from the FTC staff.

Mything the point: 6 (OK, maybe 7) myths about endorsements

If there’s a material connection between a marketer and an endorser, disclose it. That’s been the FTC standard for decades and it didn't change when marketing moved to social media. The FTC’s proposed settlement with online entertainment network Machinima illustrates missteps that could land advertisers, ad agencies, and PR firms in testimonial turmoil. But what about endorsers, affiliates, influencers, brand ambassadors, etc.?

Starting soon: Start with Security

The FTC’s first Start with Security conference – the latest in a line of initiatives emphasizing the importance of data security – kicks off on Wednesday, September 9th, in San Francisco in cooperation with UC Hastings College of the Law. Not able to be there in person? Don’t worry. You won’t be left sitting on the dock of the bay. You can watch the webcast from your desk. In addition, the FTC has a new resource for companies interested in starting with security.

Kids’ Apps Disclosures Revisited

What information are kids’ app developers collecting, who are they sharing it with, and what are they telling parents about their practices? The FTC staff first asked those questions in 2012. Fast forward three years, and how have things changed? According to the FTC’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation, the glass is both half-full and half-empty.

When buzz goes bad

It’s one thing to create buzz about a product. But fail to disclose a material connection between an endorser and an advertiser and that buzz can wind up stinging you. That’s the message of an FTC lawsuit against Machinima, a top entertainment network on YouTube that specializes in videogame culture and generates more than 3 billion (with a b) views each month.

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