Privacy and Security
For many companies, collecting sensitive consumer and employee information is an essential part of doing business. It’s your legal responsibility to take steps to properly secure or dispose of it. Financial data, personal information from kids, and material derived from credit reports may raise additional compliance considerations. In addition, you may have legal responsibilities to victims of identity theft. Regardless of the size of your company or your line of work, the FTC has compliance resources for you.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids. The COPPA Rule — revised in December 2012 with provisions that go into effect on July 1, 2013 — puts additional protections in place and streamlines other procedures that companies covered by the rule need to follow. If you run a website designed for kids or have a website geared to a general audience but collect information from someone you know is under 13, you must comply with COPPA’s requirements. Questions? Send them to CoppaHotLine@ftc.gov.
Does your business use consumer reports or credit reports to evaluate customers’ creditworthiness? Do you consult reports when evaluating applications for jobs, leases, or insurance? Here's information about your responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other laws when using, reporting, and disposing of information in those reports.
Many companies keep sensitive personal information about customers or employees in their files or on their network. Having a sound security plan in place to collect only what you need, keep it safe, and dispose of it securely can help you meet your legal obligations to protect that sensitive data. The FTC has free resources for businesses of any size.
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires financial institutions – companies that offer consumers financial products or services like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance – to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard sensitive data.
The U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework provides a method for U.S. companies to transfer personal data outside the European Union in a way that's consistent with the EU Data Protection Directive. To join the Safe Harbor, a company must self-certify to the Department of Commerce that it complies with EU standards. The FTC enforces the promise that companies make when they certify that they participate in the Safe Harbor Framework.