Set a reminder now for Tuesday, July 27, 2021, to make sure you’re up on the latest research about privacy and data security. That’s the date of the FTC’s sixth annual PrivacyCon and you’re invited to participate virtually.
Blog Posts Tagged with Privacy and Security
No one can top Waylon Jennings’ invitation to Luckenbach, Texas, where people can get “Back to the Basics of Love.” But we can offer the next best thing for business executives, advertising professionals, and attorneys: a virtual invitation to Dallas, Texas, on June 24, 2021, to get back to the basics of law.
As many companies shift to an in-person workplace, you and your employees face the opportunities and challenges of the new new normal. Today is the first in a five-part Back to Business blog series to help ease the transition back to the office, including steps you can take to reduce the risk that COVID scammers, data thieves, and financial fraudsters will follow you there. One consideration for companies: assuring you’re in control of sensitive information.
Even for people who work on the most arcane frontiers of technology, there is a line of questioning that leaves them scratching their heads wondering where to begin. It’s when a colleague, friend, or family member asks “OK, Mr. or Ms. Tech Guru. I read a scary article about online privacy. What should I do to protect myself?” or “I just bought this nifty smart device. How can I use it safely?” The FTC has a new resource to help you answer those questions.
When it comes to consumer privacy and data security, your clients and colleagues want the word on what’s been happening at the FTC – and they want it in an accessible, to-the-point format. The agency’s 2020 Privacy and Data Security Update is ready for you to read, post, and share.
Building on decades of experience in consumer privacy and data security enforcement, the FTC announced a number of notable cases in 2020. Here are a few highlights:
The FTC takes a practical approach to its mission of protecting America’s consumers. That typically means law enforcement actions to challenge companies’ unfair or deceptive acts or practices. But depending on the facts, we may supplement law enforcement with other methods, including consumer education, business guidance, warning letters, national workshops, reports, and – in limited circumstances – staff closing letters.
There’s a certain irony in the FTC’s record-setting $20 million settlement with Vivint Smart Home, a national seller of smart home technology platforms, including security devices and monitoring services. One purpose of the company’s products is to help residents ensure that people at their front door are who they say they are. But according to the FTC, Vivint engaged in some identity deception of its own.
For businesses in the middle of a global pandemic, there’s no such thing as “business as usual.” The percentage of Americans working remotely has grown substantially, now reportedly up to 33% of the U.S. workforce. Accompanying that seismic shift have been increased security threats to data, with one analysis reporting that over 36 billion online records were exposed in the first half of 2020 alone. Consumers whose lives have been upended by identity theft are paying close attention to how corporations are responding.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology promise to revolutionize our approach to medicine, finance, business operations, media, and more. But research has highlighted how apparently “neutral” technology can produce troubling outcomes – including discrimination by race or other legally protected classes. For example, COVID-19 prediction models can help health systems combat the virus through efficient allocation of ICU beds, ventilators, and other resources.
Have you marked your calendar for April 29, 2021, to attend Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop? The virtual event will examine digital “dark patterns,” potentially deceptive or unfair user interfaces on websites and mobile apps. In addition to your participation, the FTC is asking for research and public comments on topics related to the workshop.
This time last year, we all were adjusting to a new normal. As the pandemic took hold, the FTC kicked into high gear on COVID-19-related issues, while continuing its work on other fronts, too. The just-announced 2020 Annual Highlights reflect important enforcement actions, policy initiatives, and outreach efforts undertaken in the past year.
It’s like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Our hero enters a cave in search of treasure and every labyrinthine turn poses another unexpected hazard – trip-wired blades, runaway boulders, and snakes (“I hate snakes”). But we’re not talking about a rollicking adventure flick. We’re describing the experience of many online shoppers as they navigate some companies’ websites to avoid digital danger – for example, extra items showing up in a consumer’s cart, unauthorized charges, or the unintended disclosure of personal information.
How many reports did the Consumer Sentinel Network receive in 2020? What percentage of those related to fraud? And what was the most common scam that people reported? The answers: 4.7 million, 46%, and imposter scams.
Among the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, add a higher risk of identity theft to the mix. In the past year, we had about 1.4 million reports of identity theft, double the number from 2019. Repeatedly, identity thieves targeted government funds earmarked to help individuals and small businesses hard hit financially by the pandemic. Find out about identity theft in the age of COVID-19.
Today we are announcing another enforcement action seeking to hold companies responsible for consumer injury caused by others or in which they directly participated in the misconduct. In this action against Seed Consulting, we allege, among other things, that Seed assisted and facilitated several deceptive schemes that cheated consumers out of thousands of dollars.
Flo Health pitched its Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker as a way for millions of women to “take full control of [their] health.” But according to the FTC, despite express privacy claims, the company took control of users’ sensitive fertility data and shared it with third parties – a broken promise that left consumers feeling “outraged,” “victimized,” and “violated.” Read on for details, including a notable feature in the proposed settlement.
Aside from obligatory shots of the Grand Canyon or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, many photos that consumers want to keep feature the faces of friends and family. Using a service like Everalbum’s Ever app to store photos and videos in the cloud is one way to free up space on consumers’ devices. But what was Everalbum doing behind the scenes after consumers entrusted the company with those images?
To meet the needs of consumers who are injured or face a medical emergency while traveling, Scottsdale-based SkyMed International sells air evacuation plans and other services. The FTC’s action against SkyMed also involves consumer injury, but not of the fractured-femur-in-France variety. According to the FTC, SkyMed put consumers’ sensitive information at risk of compromise by failing to employ a robust data security program.