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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 its role as investigator and prosecutor, armed with very broad authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act --leaving many companies to decide simply to settle rather than face the Goliath FTC.  However, some companies have been bucking that trend recently and challenging the FTC’s authority (particularly in the area of regulating data security and FTC officials’ impartiality. As background, the FTC may begin an enforcement action if it has “reason” to believe that the FTC Act is being or has been violated. Section 5(a) of the FTC Act prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”  The FTC also enforces several other consumer protection statutes, including the Fair Credit... 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

Last week, a federal judge in California declined to grant a summary judgment motion to LegalZoom.com, Inc., in its lawsuit accusing rival Rocket Lawyer, Inc. over claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false and misleading advertising that focus on the use of the word “free” in advertisements by Rocket Lawyer. LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer… Read More

In September, 40 state attorneys general wrote to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency to take all available measures to issue regulations on the advertising, ingredients, and sale to minors of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs. The full text of the letter is available here. The FDA has set… Read More

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