On February 5, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced its most recent Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) case against Explore Talent, an online service marketed to aspiring actors and models. According to the FTC’s complaint, Explore Talent provided a free platform for consumers to find information about upcoming auditions, casting calls and other opportunities. The company also offered a monthly fee-based “pro” service that promised to provide consumers with access to specific opportunities. Users who registered online were asked to input a host of personal information including full name, email, telephone number, mailing address and photo; they also were asked to provide their eye color, hair color, body type, measurements, gender, ethnicity, age range and birth date. Continue Reading FTC Brings Its Thirtieth COPPA Case, Against Online Talent Agency

On January 8, 2018, the FTC announced an agreement with electronic toy manufacturer, VTech Electronics Limited and its U.S. subsidiary, settling charges that VTech violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) by collecting personal information from hundreds of thousands of children without providing direct notice or obtaining their parent’s consent, and failing to take reasonable steps to secure the data it collected. Under the agreement, VTech will (1) pay a $650,000 civil penalty; (2) implement a comprehensive data security program, subject to independent audits for 20 years; and (3) comply with COPPA. This is the FTC’s first COPPA case involving connected toys and the Internet of Things.

On June 21, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission updated its guidance, Six-Step Compliance Plan for Your Business, for complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The FTC enforces the COPPA Rule, which sets requirements regarding children’s privacy and safety online. The updated guidance adds new information on situations where COPPA applies and steps to take for compliance. Continue Reading FTC Releases Guidance on COPPA Compliance

On April 19, 2017, the FTC announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed changes to TRUSTe, Inc.’s safe harbor program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (the “Proposed Changes”). As we previously reported, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that TRUSTe agreed to settle allegations that it failed to properly verify that customer websites aimed at children did not run third-party software to track users. The Proposed Changes are a result of the settlement agreement between TRUSTe and the New York Attorney General. Continue Reading FTC Seeks Comment on Proposed Changes to TRUSTe’s COPPA Safe Harbor Program

On April 6, 2017, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that privacy compliance company TRUSTe, Inc., agreed to settle allegations that it failed to properly verify that customer websites aimed at children did not run third-party software to track users. According to Attorney General Schneiderman, the enforcement action taken by the NY AG is the first to target a privacy compliance company over children’s privacy. Continue Reading Privacy Compliance Company Agrees to a Settlement with the New York Attorney General

On October 3, 2016, the Texas Attorney General announced a $30,000 settlement with mobile app developer Juxta Labs, Inc. (“Juxta”) stemming from allegations that the company violated Texas consumer protection law by engaging in false, deceptive or misleading acts or practices regarding the collection of personal information from children. Continue Reading Texas AG Settles Suit with Messaging App Over Children’s Data Practices

On June 22, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Singaporean-based mobile advertising network, InMobi, resolving charges that the company deceptively tracked hundreds of millions of consumers’ locations, including children, without their knowledge or consent. Among other requirements, the settlement orders the company to pay $950,000 in civil penalties.  Continue Reading Ad Network to Pay Nearly 1 Million in Civil Penalties to Settle FTC Charges That It Geo-Tracked Consumers Without Permission

On December 17, 2015, the FTC announced a pair of COPPA settlements against operators of child-directed mobile apps available for download in the major app stores. These cases are the FTC’s first COPPA actions involving the collection of persistent identifiers, and no other personal information, from children since the FTC’s updated COPPA Rule went into effect in 2013. The FTC levied civil penalties, totaling $360,000, in both cases.

Continue Reading FTC Issues COPPA Settlements Against Mobile App Operators

Hunton & Williams welcomes Phyllis H. Marcus as counsel to the firm’s privacy and competition teams. Phyllis joins the firm from the Federal Trade Commission, where she held a number of leadership positions, most recently as Chief of Staff of the Division of Advertising Practices. Phyllis led the FTC’s children’s online privacy program, including bringing a number of enforcement actions and overhauling the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule. She offers the privacy team a keen understanding of the complexities of the revised regulations, as well as broader issues relating to student privacy, mobile applications and the Internet of Things.

Continue Reading FTC Advertising Practices Division Chief of Staff Phyllis Marcus Joins Hunton