The Federal Trade Commission, along with privacy law enforcement agencies in Australia and Canada, has received a global data protection award for its cross-border investigation of the massive AshleyMadison.com data breach in July 2015, which affected consumers in nearly 50 countries.
The FTC charged the dating website’s operators with deceiving consumers and failing to protect customer information in 36 million users’ accounts. In 2016, a court settlement required the defendants to implement a comprehensive data-security program and pay a total of $1.6 million to settle FTC and state actions.
The Grand Award for Innovation was presented on Tuesday in Hong Kong by the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), the premier global forum for privacy authorities, representing 119 data protection entities. The three agencies also received the top award for “Dispute Resolution, Compliance and Enforcement.”
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner contributed to the FTC’s investigation and reached their own settlements with the company. The FTC relied on key provisions of the U.S. SAFE WEB Act that allow it to share information with foreign counterparts to combat deceptive and unfair practices that cross national borders.
In presenting the award to the FTC, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, ICDPPC Chair John Edwards called the agencies’ work “a model on how to achieve cross-border cooperation in privacy enforcement.” The FTC’s efforts were led by its Division of Privacy and Identity Protection and Office of International Affairs.
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