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Looking at the VW case in the rearview mirror

The FTC’s actions against Volkswagen for false “clean diesel” claims were record-setting in size, scope, and seriousness. The defendants spent millions to pitch their cars to environmentally conscious consumers. But behind those low emissions numbers was a dirty little secret – and we do mean dirty: The defendants had cheated on the test. The cases made headlines in 2016 and 2017 and for many people, that was the end of the road.

Contact lens prescription renewals: Prescribers still need to release that Rx

Your patient calls you panicked because she’s on her last pair of contact lenses. Perhaps due to COVID-19, she isn’t able to (or doesn’t want to) come into the office. You may determine, in your medical judgment, that it’s appropriate to renew or extend that prescription. How do the Contact Lens Consumer Act and the Contact Lens Rule apply to that interaction?

Tidying up: Decluttering the COPPA FAQs

Maybe it’s the influence of that best-selling book on home organization or perhaps the silos of stuff in our makeshift home offices are becoming more noticeable. Either way, people are in a decluttering mood – and we are, too. Our recent project: updating and streamlining Complying with COPPA: Frequently Asked Questions, known as the COPPA FAQs. But not to worry. The revisions don’t raise new policy issues and our COPPA Rule review continues.

PrivacyCon 2020: This time it’s virtual

“Curtain up. Light the lights.” The FTC’s fifth PrivacyCon begins tomorrow, July 21, 2020, at 9:00 AM Eastern Time. Set a reminder now to join in from wherever you are. The virtual event will bring together global experts to share their latest research on consumer privacy and security, including topics like health apps, bias in AI algorithms, the Internet of Things, international privacy, and so much more.

Company claimed “Ships Tomorrow,” but where were the masks and respirators?

An online company advertising consumer goods, including personal protective equipment like masks and respirators, does business under the name SuperGoodDeals.com. But based on the illegal conduct alleged in a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, maybe it’s because the URL SuperDeceptivePractices.com was already taken.

FTC releases agenda for Safeguards Rule virtual workshop

Financial institutions collect personal information from customers every day, from names and addresses to bank account and Social Security numbers. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule requires those institutions to develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive information security program. As part of its regulatory review process, the FTC has proposed changes to the Rule.

Lights out on unsubstantiated pain relief claims and deceptive native advertising

For consumers struggling with severe or chronic pain, ads for a product called Willow Curve appeared to offer light at the end of the tunnel. But the FTC alleges the marketers made false and unsubstantiated claims for the product, a device that applied low-level light and mild heat to the site of pain – and set people back between $599 and $799 in the process. The proposed settlement also sheds light on the FTC’s ongoing concern with deceptive native advertising.

FTC-SBA warning letters caution against misleading loan program claims

In the face of COVID-19, many small businesses are looking for help from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. They may apply for PPP loans through Small Business Administration-authorized lenders and others the SBA has determined to be eligible. But there are concerns that some companies have falsely claimed an affiliation with the SBA or approved PPP lenders, or have represented untruthfully that people can get PPP or other SBA loans by applying on their sites.

Care Labeling Rule: Should it be repealed?

FTC rules can have a substantial impact on businesses and on the everyday lives of consumers. As part of its ongoing review of existing rules, the FTC periodically seeks your input on whether a particular one still performs its desired function or if it’s been overtaken by changes in technology or the marketplace. Next in the review queue is a rule that’s been around for almost 50 years and the FTC is asking if it should be repealed.

Privacy during coronavirus

During this pandemic, preserving public health has, rightly, been our nation’s top concern. But a lively debate has arisen during this time about whether that top priority necessarily means that other values – such as privacy – need to give way. If tracking people’s location will facilitate contact tracing and enforcement of shelter-in-place mandates, do we give governments and commercial partners carte blanche to track our whereabouts? Will enforcing longstanding privacy requirements impede the flow of life-saving public health information?

New FTC COVID-19 warning letters take total to 250

Saunas, IV vitamins, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) devices, and licorice – yes, licorice – are among the subjects of the latest round of FTC staff warning letters sent to 30 companies promoting their products and services with COVID-19 prevention or treatment claims. Who got the latest letters and what representations raised concerns?

They use a COVID-19 pitch to sell WHAT?!

The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.

Six steps toward more secure cloud computing

For businesses, cloud services are kind of like clouds. At their best, they can be soothing and expansive. But for companies that fail to appreciate the security implications, their ethereal presence may hide dangerous storms within. As cloud computing has become business as usual for many businesses, frequent news reports about data breaches and other missteps should make companies think carefully about how they secure their data.

FTC says Kohl’s didn’t honor rights of identity theft victims

An FTC complaint against Kohl’s Department Stores alleges the retailer violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by refusing to provide victims of identity theft with complete records of questionable transactions – a right the FCRA guarantees to victimized consumers. The $220,000 settlement is a reminder to other companies to rethink their approach to that provision of the law.

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