Blog Entry November 2011

The FTC’s settlement with Facebook: Where Facebook went wrong

When it comes to privacy promises, what you say you do with people’s personal information has to line up with your day-to-day practices. That’s the message of the FTC’s proposed settlement announced today with Facebook.

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“What are robocalls and hoodia, Alex?”

In its pending action against Sonkei Communications and two of its officers, the FTC has charged that the defendants sold robocall services to telemarketers who pitched things like home security systems, grant procurement programs, and credit card services.

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Correcting your COPPA calendar

This Thanksgiving, enjoy an extra slice of pie, take a longer nap, and watch the parades and games for a few more hours because that COPPA comment that was due on November 28th now has to be filed by December 23rd.

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The name game

“Shirley, Shirley, Bo Birley, Banana Fana Fo Firley.” When Shirley Ellis sang the song back in the 60s, it was called “The Name Game.” But when people buy products containing fur, the name is no game.

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New privacy system for movement of consumer data between US & Asia-Pacific economies

If your company does business in the Asia-Pacific region — or if you work with clients from that part of the global economy — you’ll want to follow recent developments in the privacy arena. This week, the FTC welcomed the approval by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) of a new initiative to harmonize cross-border data privacy protection among members of APEC.

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Court holds defendants in contempt

When a federal court tells a business to stop a certain course of conduct, here’s a handy tip for those who want to avoid even more serious legal trouble:  Stop already.

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Is it insurance? Putting a premium on truth

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s self-employed, healthcare costs remain a concern.  So a phone call pitching what sounds like comprehensive health insurance coverage might attract your interest.  Except that according to the FTC and the Tennessee Attorney General, what United States Benefits LLC was selling wasn’t really health insurance.

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What businesses can do to support the troops on Veterans Day

You might do business with members of the military community — or they could be your employees, neighbors, family and friends.  On this Veterans Day, you may be considering a donation to a charity that assists veterans, active-duty personnel, or military families.  But not all “charities” are legitimate:  Some are sham operators whose only purpose is to make money for themselves.  Others use paid fundraisers whose fees eat up most of a donation, so very little of it is shared with those in need.

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COPPA: All skidding aside

It billed itself as “Facebook and Myspace for kids,” but according to a settlement with the FTC, the Skid-e-Kids website failed to meet critical compliance obligations under COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  As a result, the FTC says the site collected personal information from about 5,600 kids without their parents’ consent.

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Flash in the pan?

Businesses have wised up that their customers are concerned about privacy. That’s why privacy promises, like any other claim you convey, have to be truthful. So when you describe how you use — and don’t use — people’s information, be sure to give them the straight story, avoiding steps that would undermine their privacy choices. That’s the nuts-and-bolts conclusion companies should draw from the FTC’s settlement with ScanScout, the first agency action addressing Flash cookies.

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CSI: B2B

Most marketers follow FTC happenings to get the latest on legal compliance. But while you’re visiting the Business Center, check out what BCP is doing to protect small businesses in their role as consumers. Getting the inside scoop on how B2B scams work will help you shield your company from fraudsters in the future.

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The eyes of textiles

The FTC’s 100th birthday is looming (and it doesn’t look a day over 85, if we do say so ourselves).  Ever wonder what the FTC’s very first published law enforcement action — 1 F.T.C. 1 — involved?  It dealt with a company that sold thread deceptively labeled as “cilk.”  Fast forward a century and people still want to know for certain that the cotton shirt they’re buying is made of cotton.

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