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

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

Recently, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) issued its 2017 Global Privacy Enforcement Network Sweep results (the “Report”), which focused on certain privacy practices of online educational tools and services targeted at classrooms. The OPC examined the privacy practices of two dozen educational websites and apps used by K-12 students. The “sweep” sought to replicate the consumer experience by interacting with the websites and apps, and recording the privacy practices and controls in place. The overarching theme of the Report is “user controls over personal information,” which the OPC further refined into four subthemes: (1) transparency, (2) consent, (3) age-appropriate collection and disclosure, and (4) deletion of personal information. Continue Reading Canadian Privacy Commissioner Issues Report on Children’s Educational Apps

On October 14, 2016, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced the release of a publicly available online form that will enable consumers to report potential violations of the California Online Privacy Protection Act (“CalOPPA”). CalOPPA requires website and mobile app operators to post a privacy policy that contains certain specific content. Continue Reading California AG Announces Launch of Online CalOPPA Reporting Form

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 28, 2016, the State Internet Information Office of the People’s Republic of China published the Administrative Provisions on Information Services for Mobile Internet Applications (the “App Administrative Provisions”). This is the first regulation that expressly regulates mobile apps in the People’s Republic of China. Before the App Administrative Provisions were published, the P.R.C. Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had published a draft of the Interim Provisions on the Preinstallation and Management of the Distribution of Mobile Intelligent Terminal Applications (“Interim Provisions”). The comment period for the Interim Provisions draft expired six months ago and i’s still uncertain when it will become effective. According to unofficial statistics, domestic app stores have more than 4 million apps in inventory presently, and the number is growing. Those apps will now become highly regulated products under the App Administrative Provisions. Continue Reading China Publishes First Regulation Expressly Regulating Mobile Apps

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