Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has modified its 2017 settlement with Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) after learning of an additional breach that was not taken into consideration during its earlier negotiations with the company. The modifications are based on the fact that Uber failed to notify the FTC of a November 2016 breach, which took place during the time that the FTC was investigating an earlier, 2014 breach. The 2016 breach occurred when intruders used an access key that an Uber engineer had posted on GitHub to download more than 47 million user names, including related email addresses or phone numbers, as well as more than 600,000 drivers’ names and license numbers. The FTC alleged that after Uber learned of the breach, it paid the intruders a $100,000 ransom through its “bug bounty” program. The bug bounty program is intended to reward responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities. Continue Reading FTC Revises Its Security Settlement with Uber

On March 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce posted an update on the actions it has taken between January 2017 and March 2018 to support the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks (collectively, the “Privacy Shield”). The update details measures taken in support of commercial and national security issues relating to the Privacy Shield. Continue Reading U.S. Department of Commerce Posts Update of Actions to Support the Privacy Shield Frameworks

On February 28, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission issued a report, titled Mobile Security Updates: Understanding the Issues (the “Report”), that analyzes the process by which mobile devices sold in the U.S. receive security updates and provides recommendations for improvement. The Report is based on information the FTC obtained from eight mobile device manufacturers, and from information the Federal Communications Commission collected from six wireless carriers. Continue Reading FTC Recommends Steps to Improve Mobile Device Security Update Practices

On February 26, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in an en banc decision that the “common carrier” exception in the Federal Trade Commission Act is “activity-based,” and therefore applies only to the extent a common carrier is engaging in common carrier services. The decision has implications for FTC authority over Internet service providers, indicating that the FTC has authority to bring consumer protection actions against such providers to the extent they are engaging in non-common carrier activities. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has previously ruled that Internet access service is not a common carrier service subject to that agency’s jurisdiction. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Decision Bolsters FTC Authority over Internet Service Providers

On February 27, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an agreement with PayPal, Inc., to settle charges that its Venmo peer-to-peer payment service misled consumers regarding privacy and the extent to which consumers’ financial accounts were secured. This is the second significant FTC settlement in the past three months that addressed these issues, following the FTC’s action against TaxSlayer, Inc. and signals a renewed focus by the FTC on violations of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s (“GLBA’s”) Privacy and Safeguards Rules. Continue Reading FTC Announces Settlement for Venmo’s Alleged Violations of the GLBA’s Privacy and Safeguards Rules

On February 22, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) published a blog post that provides tips on how consumers can use Virtual Private Network (“VPN”) apps to protect their information while in transit over public networks. The FTC notes that some consumers are finding VPN apps helpful in protecting their mobile device traffic over Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops, airports and other locations. Through a VPN app, a user can browse websites and use apps on their mobile devices, still shielding the traffic from prying eyes as it transmits via public networks.

Continue Reading FTC Issues Tips on VPN Apps

On February 6, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released its agenda for PrivacyCon 2018, which will take place on February 28. Following recent FTC trends, PrivacyCon 2018 will focus on privacy and data security considerations associated with emerging technologies, including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and virtual reality. The event will feature four panel presentations by over 20 researchers, including (1) collection, exfiltration and leakage of private information; (2) consumer preferences, expectations and behaviors; (3) economics, markets and experiments and (4) tools and ratings for privacy management. The FTC’s press release emphasizes the event’s focus on the economics of privacy, including “how to quantify the harms that result when companies fail to secure consumer information, and how to balance the costs and benefits of privacy-protective technologies and practices.” Continue Reading FTC Releases PrivacyCon 2018 Agenda

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 18, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released its 2017 Privacy & Data Security Update (the “Report”). The annual Report, which summarizes the privacy and data security-related activities conducted by the FTC over the past year, is broken down into five key areas: (1) enforcement, (2) advocacy, (3) workshops, (4) reports and surveys, (5) consumer education and business guidance, and (6) international engagement.

Read the full Report.

On January 9, 2018, the FTC issued a paper recapping the key takeaways from the FTC’s and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s June 2017 workshop on privacy and security issues involving connected cars. The workshop featured representatives from consumer groups, industry, government and academia. Continue Reading FTC Recaps Connected Cars Privacy and Security Workshop