Hand-Held Vaporizer Company Settles FTC Charges It Deceived Consumers About Participation in International Privacy Program

Case Is FTC’s First Related to Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Cross-Border Privacy Rules System

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A manufacturer of hand-held vaporizers has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers about its participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that Very Incognito Technologies, Inc., doing business as Vipvape, represented on its website that it was a participant in the APEC CBPR system. Companies that seek to participate in the APEC CBPR system must undergo a review by an APEC-recognized accountability agent, which certifies companies that meet the standards. The company, according to the complaint, was not actually certified.

“We are committed to vigorously enforcing cross-border privacy commitments,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “Consumers should be able to rely on a company’s claim that it is a certified participant in an international program designed to protect their personal information.”

The APEC CBPR system facilitates privacy-respecting data transfers between APEC member economies through a voluntary, enforceable mechanism which certifies companies as being compliant with APEC CBPR program requirements. The APEC CBPR system is based on nine data privacy principles: preventing harm, notice, collection limitation, use choice, integrity, security safeguards, access and correction, and accountability.

The complaint alleges that Vipvape’s deceptive statement was a violation of the FTC Act.

Under the terms of its settlement with the FTC, Vipvape is prohibited from misrepresenting its participation, membership or certification in any privacy or security program sponsored by a government or self-regulatory or standard-setting organization.

The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint and to accept the consent agreement was 3-0. The FTC will publish a description of the consent agreement package in the Federal Register shortly. The agreement will be subject to public comment for 30 days, beginning today and continuing through June 3, 2016, after which the Commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final. Interested parties can submit comments electronically.

NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $16,000.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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STAFF CONTACT:

Monique Einhorn
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-2575