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A Blog About FTC regulations and happenings

The bastard stepchild of online behavioral advertising – the supercookie – is in the hot seat. Two members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the FTC on September 27 calling on the commission to look into the usage and impact of supercookies on consumers. Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Tex.), co-chairmen of the bipartisan privacy caucus in the House, sent the letter in response to an August 18 Wall Street Journal article. The article reported on use of supercookies by major online presences like MSN.com and Hulu.com. Rep. Barton raised concerns that the existence of supercookies “eats away at consumer choice and privacy.” Like regular cookies, supercookies (aka “Flash cookies” and “zombie cookies”) are legal means to track a user’s online activity. But there are several differences that cause supercookies to pique the concerns of data privacy advocates. Unlike regular cookies, supercookies circumvent a user’s privacy settings and are hard to detect and remove. They are located in different files on the computer, like the Flash... Read more
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September 20, 2011

Payday Lenders Find Themselves in FTC’s Cross Hairs

By: Nicole Kardell

Like pawnbrokers, payday lenders cater to people in a tight squeeze. That means they can, in turn, put the squeeze on their customers, charging annual percentage interest rates above 300 percent for their short-term unsecured loans. That also means they are a popular target of federal regulators who are concerned about vulnerable consumers. The FTC… Read More

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September 12, 2011

Prepaid Phone Companies Dial a Wrong Number at the FCC

By: Nicole Kardell

Companies marketing prepaid phone cards should be on the lookout: the Federal Communications Commission is threatening more-severe penalties for deceptive advertising. The prepaid phone card business is pretty profitable, with the industry raking in billions every year. Plastering phone cards with names like “Africa Magic” and “Hola Amigo,” prepaid calling card companies target immigrant populations,… Read More

In an unusual and little-noticed recent settlement, Google Inc. has agreed to pay a forfeiture of $500 million because it permitted Canadian pharmacies to advertise to United States consumers on its site using Google AdWords, resulting in the illegal sale of prescription drugs through online channels into the United States between 2003 and 2009. The… Read More

If you advertise or sell over the Internet, be aware that changes are afoot at the FTC that will affect your business. The Commission is in the midst of revamping its Dot Com Disclosures, guidelines it prepared back in 2000 regarding online advertising. It issued a request for public comment on prospective revisions in late… Read More

The FTC recently issued the Mortgage Acts and Practices – Advertising Final Rule. This rule is the FTC’s response to a congressional directive to address unfair or deceptive acts in the mortgage loan industry. Briefly, the MAP Rule (1) gives the FTC and state authorities the ability to seek civil penalties for deceptive mortgage advertising,… Read More

The companies behind the ubiquitous “1 Tip for a Tiny Belly” ads are the most recent targets of a new FTC crackdown on online weight-loss ads that have conned millions of people. The ad seems innocent enough; it promises “1 Tip” to a svelte stomach. But this ad is actually the tip of something much… Read More

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities is taking on the Department of Education. The organization, which represents some 1500 for-profit education institutions, filed its second lawsuit this year to contest the agency’s new regulations aimed at career colleges. The ASPCU won one and lost two in the first suit, and is currently appealing… Read More

There’s been a lot of talk of late about the cost to industry of government regulation. The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, asserted at a job summit on Monday that recent government initiatives are “unjustified and uncalled for in a free society and a free economy” and are “killing American jobs.”… Read More

Business is booming at America’s for-profit colleges. With steady high unemployment rates, many of the job-hungry have opted to pursue higher or specialized degrees in an effort to make themselves more marketable. Pricy for-profit institutions, like the 400,000 strong University of Phoenix, are flourishing with this increased demand as students flock to their courses to… Read More

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