Blog Posts Tagged with Consumer Privacy

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Weeding out deceptive and unfair data practices

Ask any gardener and they’ll tell you it’s a fool’s errand to lop weeds off at the surface. You also have to target the root system that allows them to propagate in the first place. That’s one of the messages to take from a judgment in the FTC’s case against Ideal Financial Solutions, Inc., and previous actions against data brokers and others who lent their green thumbs to Ideal’s large-scale consumer scam.

Dealing in personal data? Seller beware.

If your company is in the business of pretzels or pitchforks, what you’re selling and who you’re selling to may not be a big deal. But if your stock-in-trade is personal information – sensitive stuff like people’s Social Security and bank account numbers – what’s reasonable under the circumstances may be different. That’s the message companies can take from the FTC’s settlement of a pending complaint against data broker LeapLab.

IdentityTheft.gov means business!

Why is it your business if identity theft victims can get free personal recovery plans and other help that makes it easier for them to report and recover from identity theft?  Here’s an answer: Because it’s good business – for you, your customers, your employees, and your community.

PrivacyCon set to convene

Experts from around the world have gathered today at PrivacyCon, the FTC’s first-ever confab to discuss the latest in consumer privacy and data security. And it’s much more than just talk. Leading academics and other experts will present new research on five key topics: the state of online privacy, consumer expectations, big data, the economics of privacy and security, and security and usability.

Why big data is a big deal

For a while now, pundits have been talking about the three V’s of big data: Volume – the vast quantity of information that can be gathered and analyzed; Velocity – the speed with which companies can accumulate, analyze, and use new data; and Variety – the breadth of data companies can analyze effectively.

Making tracks

Interested business people are making tracks to the FTC’s workshop today on cross-device tracking. Can’t make it to Washington? Then watch the webcast.

Across the tracks? FTC explores cross-device tracking

Quick:  How many connected devices do your customers have within arm’s reach right now? For a lot of them, the answer is (at minimum) a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, a connected TV, and a wearable gadget. What are the consumer protection implications when companies collect data through – and across – those devices for the purpose of advertising and marketing?

Following Follow the Lead

If you couldn’t make it to Washington to attend the FTC workshop Follow the Lead, watching the webcast is the next best thing – and it starts at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, October 30, 2015. We’re bringing together industry members, consumer advocates, researchers, law enforcers – and you – to discuss the consumer protection implications of online lead generation.

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. 

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.

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.

Leading questions?

It’s a common occurrence. People looking online for a product or service – say, a loan or an educational program – find themselves on a site that asks for their personal information. The idea is that consumers will be connected with a company in that business. That exchange of information might offer an easy way to put buyers and sellers together. But sometimes the data wends its way through multiple hands before reaching the business selling what the consumer is looking for.

A new model for auto dealers?

There are three letters every auto dealer should know about. GTO? XKE? Good guesses, but not what we had in mind.

We’re talking about GLB.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial institutions to give their customers initial and annual notices about their privacy policies. If the company shares certain customer information with particular types of third parties, they also have to give customers the opportunity to opt out of sharing. The FTC’s Privacy of Consumer Financial Information Rule – friends call it the GLB Privacy Rule – explains the specifics.

If the FTC comes to call

It’s a question we’re asked a lot. “What happens if I’m the target of an FTC investigation involving data security?” We understand – no one wants to get that call. But we hope we can shed some light on what a company can expect.

First things first. All of our investigations are nonpublic. That means we can’t disclose whether anyone is the subject of an investigation. The sources of a data security investigation can be news reports, complaints from consumers or other companies, requests from Congress or other government agencies, or our own initiative.

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