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Once again using its administrative litigation process, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced settlements with twelve large businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos football teams, the Baker Tilly accounting firm, BitTorrent, Inc., a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, Level 3 Communications (one of the largest Internet service providers in the world), and Reynolds Consumer Products, all relating to alleged deceptive claims of U.S.-E.U Safe harbor certifications. The “Safe Harbor” certification, overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce, is a voluntary privacy certification; however, it requires an annual reaffirmation to maintain “current” certification status.  The FTC filed complaints against these companies alleging that the organizations made statements in their privacy policies or displayed the Safe Harbor certification mark indicating that they held current Safe Harbor certifications, even though these companies had allowed their certifications to lapse.  The European Commission has recently criticized what it views as lax enforcement of the Safe Harbor process in the U.S., and issued a report with recommendations for improvements.   ... Read more

As the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) continues to flex its consumer protection muscles by bringing numerous administrative lawsuits, industry and members of Congress are questioning whether there is a level playing field that allows companies to properly defend themselves against FTC charges.  Or, as some say, does the FTC have the “home court advantage” in… Read More

New year, new resolutions.  Yesterday, the FTC announced a resolution of its own: to undertake a nationwide enforcement effort to protect consumers against deceptive weight loss claims.  Dubbed “Operation Failed Resolution,” the FTC’s latest enforcement effort seeks to protect consumers who face a barrage of “opportunistic marketers” promising quick ways to shed pounds. According to… Read More

ZeroAccess is one of the world’s largest botnets – a network of computers infected with malware to trigger online fraud.  Recently, after having eluded investigators for months, ZeroAccess was disrupted by Microsoft and law enforcement agencies. Earlier this month, armed with a court order and law enforcement help overseas, Microsoft took steps to cut off… Read More

The FTC held a workshop on Wednesday to examine the blurring lines of advertisements and content in digital media today. Executives from a myriad of professions gathered to discuss how sponsored content in digital publications takes form and affects the consumer. Native advertising, or sponsored content, is the practice of masking advertising to look like… Read More

On November 12, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), in a 4-0 vote, denied AssertID’s application for approval of a proposed verifiable parental consent (“VPC”) method under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”).  Under the FTC’s COPPA rule, covered online websites and services must obtain “verifiable parental consent” (“VPC”) before collecting personal information from… Read More

For-profit education needs rebranding. With the recent appointment of Michael Dakduk as key advisor to the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the sector has made a step in the right direction. The onslaught of negative news against for-profit educators has severely impacted industry growth. Recent reports on drops in enrollment (and thus earnings)… Read More

A lawsuit filed in Massachusetts state court recently raised the issue of whether a former employee’s LinkedIn post announcing a new job could violate an anti-solicitation clause of a non-compete contract with the former employer. In KNF&T Inc. v. Muller, staffing company KNF&T filed suit against its former vice president, Charlotte Muller, for violating a… Read More

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