FTC Says FCC Action an Important Step to Restore Its Position as Privacy Enforcement Leader

May 3rd, 2017

Earlier this week, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined a broad sweeping plan to loosen regulations over high-speed internet providers, a step back from FCC’s 2015 decision that was designed to ensure that all online content is treated similarly.

Following the announcement, Acting Federal Trade Commission Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen stated, “I welcome Chairman Pai’s announcement as an important step toward restoring the FTC’s ability to protect broadband subscribers from unfair and deceptive practices, including violations of their privacy. Those consumer protections were an unfortunate casualty of the FCC’s 2015 decision to subject broadband to utility-style regulation. I look forward to working with Chairman Pai and other stakeholders to return to broadband subscribers the consumer protections they deserve.”

The FTC is the nation’s primary consumer protection agency and the most active consumer privacy and data security enforcer in the world.

The Commission work, in part, focuses upon the enforcement of laws and rules designed to protect the privacy of certain health, credit and financial data. It also enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the COPPA Rule to ensure that companies do not collect personal information from children online without their parents’ permission.

The FTC’s jurisdiction reaches various sectors, including, retail, advertising, credit reporting, health, financial, tech hardware, software, mobile, and social media.

In a recent press release, the FTC announced that, to date, it has initiated over 130 spam and spyware cases, over 120 Do Not Call cases targeting illegal telemarketing, over 100 Fair Credit Reporting Act actions, approximately 60 data security cases, more than 50 consumer privacy actions, almost 30 cases for violations of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and over 20 actions enforcing COPPA. Many of these matters have been brought large Internet companies, including social networks, search engines, ad networks, online retailers, mobile apps, device manufacturers, and participants in the Internet of Things marketplace.

The FTC’s broad ban on unfair and deceptive practices has allowed it to challenge many harmful privacy and security-related violations. Businesses have found themselves in the cross-hairs for making deceptive claims about how they collect, use and share consumer data. The Commission has also challenged companies that have failed to provide reasonable security for people’s personal information and devices.

Businesses that have spammed consumers, deceptively tracked them online, installed spyware or other malware on their computers, publicly posted sensitive data online without consumers’ knowledge or consent, and invaded consumers’ privacy by violating Do Not Call and other telemarketing provisions, have also been targeted.

FTC enforcement actions are intended to send a clear message about the need to protect consumers’ privacy.

See here for the latest Privacy and Security Update.

Consult with an advertising compliance lawyer to discuss FTC investigation triggers, or if your company is the subject of a regulatory investigation or enforcement action.

Follow me on Twitter at FTC Privacy Lawyer.

ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result. Hinch Newman LLP | 40 Wall St., 35thFloor, New York, NY 10005 | (212) 756-8777.

Richard Newman

Richard B. Newman is an Internet marketing compliance and regulatory defense attorney at Hinch Newman LLP focusing on advertising and digital media matters. His practice includes conducting legal compliance reviews of advertising campaigns, representing clients in investigations and enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General, commercial litigation, advising clients on promotional marketing programs, and negotiating and drafting legal agreements.

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