Federal Trade Commission

Effective September 21, 2018, Section 301 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) requires consumer reporting agencies to provide free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts to consumers throughout the country. Under the Act, consumer reporting agencies must each set up a webpage designed to enable consumers to request credit freezes, fraud alerts, extended fraud alerts and active duty fraud alerts. The webpage must also give consumers the ability to opt out of the use of information in a consumer report to send the consumer a solicitation of credit or insurance. Consumers may find links to these webpages on the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website.

The Act also enables parents and guardians to freeze their children’s credit if they are under age 16. Guardians or conservators of incapacitated persons may also request credit freezes on their behalf.

Section 302 of the Act provides additional protections for active duty military. Under this section, consumer reporting agencies must offer free electronic credit monitoring to all active duty military.

For more information, read the FTC’s blog post.

The Federal Trade Commission announced the opening dates of its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, a series of public hearings that will discuss whether broad-based changes in the economy, evolving business practices, new technologies or international developments might require adjustments to competition and consumer protection law, enforcement priorities and policy. The FTC and Georgetown University Law Center will co-sponsor two full-day sessions of hearings on September 13 and 14, 2018, to be held at the Georgetown University Law Center facility. Continue Reading FTC to Commence Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

On August 13, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission approved changes to the video game industry’s safe harbor guidelines under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule. COPPA’s “safe harbor” provision enables industry groups to propose self-regulatory guidelines regarding COPPA compliance for FTC approval.  Continue Reading FTC Approves Changes to Video Game Industry’s Safe Harbor Program Under COPPA

On August 6, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission published a notice seeking public comment on whether the FTC should expand its enforcement power over corporate privacy and data security practices. The notice, published in the Federal Register, follows FTC Chairman Joseph Simons’ declaration at a July 18 House subcommittee hearing that the FTC’s current authority to do so, under Section 5 of the FTC Act, is inadequate to deal with the privacy and security issues in today’s market. Continue Reading FTC Asks Whether to Expand Enforcement Power Over Corporate Privacy Practices

On July 12, 2018, two U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate the privacy policies and practices of smart TV manufacturers. In their letter, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) note that smart TVs can “compile detailed profiles about users’ preferences and characteristics” which can then allow companies to personalize ads to be sent to “customers’ computers, phones or any other device that shares the smart TV’s internet connection.” Continue Reading Senators Ask FTC to Investigate Smart TV Manufacturers

On July 5, 2018, the European Parliament issued a nonbinding resolution (“the Resolution”) that calls on the European Commission to suspend the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield unless U.S. authorities can “fully comply” with the framework by September 1, 2018. The Resolution states that the data transfer mechanism does not provide the adequate level of protection for personal data as required by EU data protection law. The Resolution takes particular aim at potential access to EU residents’ personal data by U.S. national security agencies and law enforcement, citing the passage of the CLOUD Act as having “serious implications for the EU, as it is far-reaching and creates a potential conflict with the EU data protection laws.” Continue Reading European Parliament Calls for Suspension of EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Unless U.S. Can “Fully Comply”

On July 2, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission announced that California company ReadyTech Corporation (“ReadyTech”) agreed to settle FTC allegations that ReadyTech misrepresented it was in the process of being certified as compliant with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield (“Privacy Shield”) framework for lawfully transferring consumer data from the European Union to the United States. The FTC finalized this settlement on October 17, 2018. Continue Reading California Corporation Settles FTC Complaint Regarding EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Compliance Claim

On June 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated a 2016 Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) order compelling LabMD to implement a “comprehensive information security program that is reasonably designed to protect the security, confidentiality, and integrity of personal information collected from or about consumers.” The Eleventh Circuit agreed with LabMD that the FTC order was unenforceable because it did not direct the company to stop any “unfair act or practice” within the meaning of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (the “FTC Act”). Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Vacates FTC Data Security Order

On May 24, 2018, the Federal Trade Commission granted final approval to a settlement (the “Final Settlement”) with PayPal, Inc., to resolve charges that PayPal’s peer-to-peer payment service, Venmo, misled consumers regarding certain restrictions on the use of its service, as well as the privacy of transactions. The proposed settlement was announced on February 27, 2018. In its complaint, the FTC alleged that Venmo misrepresented its information security practices by stating that it “uses bank-grade security systems and data encryption to protect your financial information.” Instead, the FTC alleged that Venmo violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s (“GLBA’s”) Safeguards Rule by failing to (1) have a written information security program; (2) assess the risks to the security, confidentiality and integrity of customer information; and (3) implement basic safeguards such as providing security notifications to users that their passwords were changed. The complaint also alleged that Venmo (1) misled consumers about their ability to transfer funds to external bank accounts, and (2) misrepresented the extent to which consumers could control the privacy of their transactions, in violation of the GLBA Privacy Rule. Continue Reading FTC Approves Settlement with PayPal Regarding Alleged Venmo Privacy Misrepresentations