Blog Posts Tagged with Consumer Privacy

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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.

Privacy promises and bankruptcy: The latest letter

In the immortal words of renowned legal scholar Yogi Berra, it’s “déjà vu all over again.” A national company is in bankruptcy court and an issue has arisen regarding the possible sale of consumers’ personal information, at least some of which was collected with the express promise, “We will not sell or rent your personally identifiable information to anyone at any time.”

Using consumer health data?

With the help of innovative businesses, consumers are taking a more active role in managing their health information. How? Maybe it’s an app that monitors their exercise habits, a device that lets diabetics track glucose levels, or a site where patients with the same condition share information. In addition, people are starting to download their information into personal health records, partially because of regulatory initiatives promoting secure online access to medical data.

Mergers and privacy promises

Every company takes a different approach to how it collects, maintains, and shares consumers’ personal information. Companies that want to do right by their customers are careful to explain how they handle that data. That way, consumers will know how their data will be treated.

But what happens when a company changes owners or merges with another entity? Do the representations the company made to consumers before a merger about how their information will be used apply after the merger? Are there limits on how it can be used and shared?

BCP’s Office of Technology Research and Investigation: The next generation in consumer protection

The FTC keeps its finger on the pulse of markets, channeling its resources to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair practices involving new technologies. A few years ago, we created the Mobile Technology Unit to help bring consumer protection into the mobile era. Staffers assist the Bureau of Consumer Protection and FTC regions with law enforcement investigations and lend their expertise to the development of consumer protection policy.

Location, location, location

Does your app collect users’ locations? Is that happening even when they’re not using the app?  Savvy developers understand the importance of giving consumers a clear picture of what’s going on. The FTC has advice on making your practices more transparent.

Mess ipsa loquitor? Letting the facts speak for themselves

This post about the FTC’s law enforcement action against Craig Brittain will be a little different. No bullet points parsing the nuances of complaint allegations. No tips and takeaways for savvy marketers. No admonitions about industry best practices. Given that the “industry” in question is revenge porn, the facts pretty much speak for themselves.

A pain in the privacy

From a patient’s perspective, it was one of those “It seemed like a good idea at the time” innovations: a free online portal that lets people view their billing history with a number of different healthcare providers. But according to the FTC, Atlanta-based PaymentsMD, LLC and former CEO Michael C. Hughes signed consumers up for their service and then went on a medical information scavenger hunt without their permission.

The FTC's TRUSTe case: When seals help seal the deal

People who aren’t into marketing jargon might not know a “credence claim” from a Creedence Clearwater Revival, but experts tell us it’s a representation about a product that consumers aren’t in a position to evaluate for themselves. One example is what websites say about their privacy practices. Because consumers can’t test the accuracy of those claims, they often rely on third-party seals trusted for their expertise and independence.

Today’s the day for Big Data

Big Data is a big deal for businesses, consumers, academics, and policymakers.  There's no doubt it opens the door to more powerful analytical techniques that can advance medical research, education, transportation, etc.  But some have voiced concerns about whether it may be used to categorize consumers in ways that may affect them unfairly, or even unlawfully.  That's the topic on the table at an FTC workshop, Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?, and it's happening today,

Big Data: What’s on the agenda?

Whether it’s advances in medical research, making sure buses are where they need to be during rush hour, or reducing how long consumers are stuck on hold listening to canned music, Big Data promises a lot for the future. But what are the risks it could be used to disadvantage some people?

What’s the Deal? Dealing with shopping apps

Whether by click, tap, swipe, or scan, apps now offer a variety of beneficial services that can enhance consumers’ shopping experience.  These services help consumers compare prices in-store, load the latest deals, and make purchases – all from the convenience of their phone. To better understand the consumer protection implications of this ever-changing environment, FTC staff recently issued a report, What’s the Deal?

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