Blog Posts Tagged with Consumer Privacy

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Flash in the pan?

Businesses have wised up that their customers are concerned about privacy. That’s why privacy promises, like any other claim you convey, have to be truthful. So when you describe how you use — and don’t use — people’s information, be sure to give them the straight story, avoiding steps that would undermine their privacy choices. That’s the nuts-and-bolts conclusion companies should draw from the FTC’s settlement with ScanScout, the first agency action addressing Flash cookies.

Quoth the Maven

In celebration of Halloween — and with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe — here’s our take on what companies can do to make sure spooky business practices don’t come back to haunt them.




Once upon a midnight lawful
Pondering practices, good and awful,
Reading through the U.S. Code
For dos and don’ts I parse and claw.

I came upon the Trade Commission’s
Section 5 with all revisions.

(De)fault lines

When people get the latest software, app, or gizmo, it comes with default settings configured by the company responsible for the product. The FTC’s settlement with Frostwire, a developer of free peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software, raises interesting issues for industry. When can a company’s choice of default settings amount to an unfair practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act? And when can a company’s representations about default settings be considered deceptive?

New tool for back-to-school

It used to be that the biggest issues at back-to-school time were finding everything on the school supplies list and remembering who likes the crusts cut off the brown bag PB&J.  But nowadays, responsible adults need to consider the risks if children’s personal information — like a Social Security number on a registration form, permission slip, or health document — winds up in the wrong hands. When kids are victims of identity theft, the crime may go undetected for years.  But by the time they’re old enough to get a job or apply for a student loan, the damage has been done.

Linking, liking, and loading

Logo for BCP Business Center - Your link to the law

OK, now that it’s just us, here’s a reminder that most resources in the BCP Business Center are in the public domain. Thus, according to 17 U.S.C. § 105, they’re not subject to copyright restrictions. (Sorry for the citation. Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.)  So you’re free to download, link, paste, tweet, like, dislike, and otherwise use FTC materials.

Closed encounters of the third kind

Savvy executives like to stay in the loop on FTC activities that could affect their industry.   They make it a habit to scan the headlines or check for relevant workshops or reports.  But there’s a third category of information a bit less understood: closing letters from BCP staff.

In the spirit of transparency, the agency posts them online.  Here in the BCP Business Center, recent letters appear in the Compliance Documents section of each topic area.

Gauge your app-titude

Today, tech-savvy entrepreneurs use mobile apps to build buzz, save money, and stay in touch on the go.  But how can you make sure all those apps you buy protect your privacy, keep your data secure, and wind up costing you exactly the advertised price?  OnGuardOnline, the federal government’s online safety and security site, has some questions to consider before you click DOWNLOAD.

The FTC's settlement with Google: Part 4

Business practices at odds with promises in the company’s privacy policy. The failure to disclose adequately that the contacts with whom users emailed and chatted the most would become public by default. Confusing and hard-to-find controls to limit the sharing of personal info. False claims about adherence to the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor privacy framework.

Those were the allegations in the FTC’s complaint against Google. What changes will the agency’s proposed settlement bring about at the company?

The FTC’s settlement with Google: Part 2

According to the FTC’s recent settlement with Google, when people declined to sign up for Google Buzz, the company’s new social network, Google nonetheless enrolled them in certain features without their consent.

But what about people who clicked the link that said “Sweet! Check out Buzz”?  The FTC’s complaint alleged that they, too, weren’t adequately informed that certain information that had been private — including the people they chatted with or emailed most often — would be shared publicly by default.

NCP Double-YOU

Break out the bubbly and raise a toast:  It's National Consumer Protection Week.  NCPW is an annual campaign sponsored by the FTC and nearly 30 other federal agencies, consumer groups, and advocacy organizations, in conjunction with state, county, and local government offices that are sponsoring events nationwide.  The goal?  To encourage consumers to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.

New compliance resource for health care providers and health plans

If you work in the health care or HR field or have clients who do, you’ve probably run across it. A patient complains about a bill for medical services they didn’t receive. An employee who rarely goes to the doctor gets told they’ve reached the limit on their health benefits. Someone gets denied coverage because their medical records show a condition they don’t have.

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