Blog Posts Tagged with Consumer Privacy

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NIST workshop considers improvements to labeling for Internet of Things products and consumer software

The Nilsson song “Everybody’s Talking” has withstood the test of time and now could refer to the host of smart household products that communicate with consumers – and often with each other. But are companies protecting the security of consumer information they collect or maintain?

FTC action against stalkerware app SpyFone and CEO Scott Zuckerman underscores threats of surveillance businesses

By installing an app called SpyFone onto the device of an unsuspecting person, a user could stealthily track their target’s email, photos, contacts, calendars, web history, and even location. Support King, LLC, and CEO Scott Zuckerman marketed SpyFone as a way to monitor the activities of children and employees, neglecting to take action to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from using the illegal secret surveillance effectuated by the company’s products.

Helping you answer consumers’ privacy questions

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.

Updating you on FTC privacy and data security initiatives

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.

Enforcement

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:

Aiming for truth, fairness, and equity in your company’s use of AI

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.

Asking for your insights into digital dark patterns

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.

Bringing Dark Patterns to Light

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.

Health app broke its privacy promises by disclosing intimate details about users

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.

Facing the facts about facial recognition

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?

FTC issues 6(b) orders to social media and video streaming services

One digit can make a lot of difference. Would the Proclaimers have walked 501 miles? How effective was Love Potion #10? Did the Beatles ask would you still need me, would you still feed me when I’m 65? With so much attention on Section 5 of the FTC Act, some may overlook another important provision of the statute: Section 6(b).

Zooming in on Zoom’s unfair and deceptive security practices: More about the FTC settlement

This time last year, “zoom” was just a word related to speed. But the pandemic has made video conferencing platform Zoom a daily fixture for business people conferring about trade secrets, doctors and mental health professionals discussing sensitive patient information, kids keeping up with school work, and the rest of us sharing everything from the details of day-to-day life to confidential family matters.

FTC releases agenda for Data To Go virtual workshop

“Take out” takes on a whole new meaning when it involves your data. Consumers and industry members are giving more thought to the issue of data portability – the ability of consumers to move data (such as emails, contacts, calendars, financial information, health information, favorites, friends, or content posted on social media) from one service to another or to their own files. That’s the topic of a September 22, 2020, virtual event, Data To Go: An FTC Workshop on Data Portability.

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.

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?

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