On February 22, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had reached settlement agreements (“the Proposed Agreements”) with three U.S. companies charged with deceiving consumers about their participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Cross-Border Privacy Rules (“APEC CBPR”) system. The three companies are Sentinel Labs, Inc. (which provides endpoint protection software), SpyChatter, Inc. (which markets a private messaging app) and Vir2us, Inc. (which distributes cybersecurity software). In separate complaints, the FTC alleged that each company falsely represented in its online privacy policy that it participated in the APEC CBPR program (“the Program”), when in fact none of the companies have ever been certified as required by the Program. The Program requires participants to undergo a review by an APEC-recognized accountability agent, whose review certifies that participants meet the Program’s standards. The Program is based on nine data privacy principles: preventing harm, notice, collection limitation, use choice, integrity, security safeguards, access and correction, and accountability.

The Proposed Agreements prohibit each company from misrepresenting their participation, membership or certification in any privacy or security program sponsored by a government or self-regulatory or standard-setting organization. The Proposed Agreements will be open for public comment until March 24, 2017, after which point the FTC will vote on whether to finalize them.