A New Jersey-based company, Aromaflage, and its owners have agreed to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding the company’s sale of sprays and candles that claim to be insect-repelling. According to the complaint, the company made false or unsubstantiated insect repellency claims, false establishment claims, and deceptive endorsement claims, and deceptively failed to disclose material connections with endorsers.
Blog Posts by Sarah L. Bruno
The Federal Trade Commission recently reached a settlement agreement over charges against an online marketing operation accused of deceptively luring consumers into expensive subscriptions by offering “free trials” of teeth-whiteners and related products. According to FTC, the defendants obtained consumers’ billing information under the pretense of a nominal fee before unexpectedly charging them up to $200 per month. The order imposes a judgment of over $92 million on the defendants and bans them from engaging in negative option sales in the future.
Negative option marketing refers to the practice of billing a consumer on a periodic, recurring basis for a product or service until the consumer affirmatively opts out of the subscription. While negative option marketing is legal when conducted appropriately, regulators are willing to pursue companies that abuse this practice.
Got blockchain? For many, the answer to this question is “no” but the technology and the medium of exchange built on it have arrived and many platforms and industries are looking to see how it can help facilitate transactions and allow for more efficiencies. Enter cryptocurrency, which relies upon blockchain technology, and is a secure, non-cash digital currency that is being considered in many industries as a form of payment or exchange for value. And, as often the case with newly implemented and much hyped technology, especially one that facilitates a financial transaction, the Federal Trade Commission is now paying attention.
San Francisco — Arent Fox LLP is pleased to announce the selection of Partner Sarah L. Bruno to the Daily Journal's inaugural list of the "Top Cyber/Artificial Intelligence Lawyers" in California. As noted by the Daily Journal, this ranking honors 20 attorneys who help thwart cyber threats by advising companies on best practices, navigating legal and regulatory mandates on privacy and data security, and responding to data incidents and breaches.
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Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the State of Hawaii are looking into the lawfulness of “loot boxes” in mobile games. “Loot boxes” are virtual prize packages that may be purchased in mobile games where the player is unaware of what virtual items are inside the package until following the purchase. It is important to note that while several regulatory bodies have expressed some concern with this form of prizing, none have taken any formal action to ban them.
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Take out the microphone and get ready to record! Just don’t ask any personal questions and make sure that you’re prepared to then dump it all. This sums up the guidance provided by the Federal Trade Commission in a recently released Enforcement Policy. The Policy was released in response to frequently raised concerns from industry members regarding the need for developers of voice commanded technologies to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, particularly where such technologies are designed for home use and may record the voices of children. Under the Policy, the FTC has stated that it will not take action against companies that offer devices that can record the voice of children if several requirements are met:
Last month, the SEC announced the creation of a new “Cyber Unit” within the Enforcement Division to target misconduct related to cybersecurity. The unit is being created in conjunction with internal SEC initiatives to strengthen cybersecurity in the wake of the agency’s infamous data breach last year.
The latest question in privacy law is not what’s in a name (or IP address, PHI, TV viewing activity, etc.), but what’s on a face. Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with how companies are using their biometric information such as facial, fingerprint, and iris information. In one closely watched case, photo sharing website Shutterfly faces allegations that it violated consumer privacy by collecting facial scans without consent.
Just as the Sword in the Stone could only be used by its rightful owner, the Privacy Shield can only be claimed by the rightfully certified entities. If not, false representations may stir Federal Trade Commission action. The FTC recently announced their first enforcement actions involving the EU-US Privacy Shield framework, settling complaints with three US companies.
Calling all #influencers: that promotional post may attract more attention than you bargained for with your brand if you fail to use required disclosures. With several enforcement actions against companies, assistance from Instagram’s new paid partnerships tool, and the first ever complaint directly against social media influencers, the Federal Trade Commission has made it clear that they are fed up with deceptive endorsements.
Instagram has a message for social media Influencers: the Wild West is coming to an end. The popular photo-sharing platform is rolling out a new tool that will make it easier to tag and track paid commercial content. The tool offers a potential replacement for the much loathed “#ad” disclosure, but it also signals a coming crackdown on Influencer posts.
Major regulatory changes in data governance recently went into effect in Japan and China that are likely to impact organizations doing business in these Asian markets. While the regulations are long-awaited, their implementation follows on the heels of the global Wannacry ransomware data scare and at the same time as companies attempt to prepare for the European General Data Protection Regulation. Both countries’ changes warrant reviews of company policies and procedures, but they are also quite different: Japan’s straightforward amendments focus on consumer information and data protection, while China turned a controversial focus to network operators managing data.
Arent Fox LLP is pleased to announce that Privacy, Cybersecurity & Data Protection partner Sarah L. Bruno and Labor & Employment partner Jennifer C. Terry have been named among the “Top Women Lawyers” in California by the Daily Journal as a result of their impressive track record of successes on behalf of clients, their role as mentors within the firm, and their impact on the overall legal profession.
Ransomware is old news, as we had previously written here. Its latest iteration, the currently circulating WannaCry ransomware, is no laughing matter. The WannaCry vulnerability was reportedly first uncovered by the National Security Agency (NSA) but kept under wraps as a potential tool for possible surveillance. It was subsequently found by hackers who released a cache of stolen NSA documents on the internet, including details about WannaCry.
Last week, numerous hospitals operated by Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) suffered a ransomware event in which hospital computer systems were encrypted, phone lines became inoperable, patients were diverted, and a Bitcoin ransom was demanded. Hospitals across Britain shut down their computer systems in order to protect patient data and prevent further spread and advised people to stay home unless there was an emergency. NHS Digital, Britain’s national hospital cybersecurity overseer, stated that 16 NHS organizations across Britain had reported an incident, but that the attack did not appear to be specifically targeting NHS hospitals. At this time, there is no indication that the ransomware has exfiltrated any personal data from the NHS.
The Federal Trade Commission recently sent more than 90 letters to celebrities, athletes, and other influencers reminding them that brand endorsements made in social media posts must comply with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides. The letters reminded social media influencers – individuals or groups recruited to promote a brand’s products or services – that social media endorsements must clearly and conspicuously disclose “material connections” between the influencer and the brand, and focused on the need to disclose such connection in Instagram posts.
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The Federal Trade Commission is asking “who’s watching who?” in a recent settlement with Vizio over the consumer electronics brand’s smart TVs. Vizio’s settlement with the FTC and the New Jersey Attorney General comes in at $2.2 million after a complaint that Vizio tracked consumer viewing data on 11 million smart TVs since 2014 without their knowledge and sold it to third parties. Vizio must also delete all data collected up until March 2016, disclose its data practices, and improve its privacy policies.
In December 2016, the EU’s Article 29 Working Party (A29WP)—a group comprised of EU national data protection authorities (DPAs) that advises the EU Commission on EU data protection law—issued a number of GDPR guidance documents, including explanations for the mandatory DPO role, new individual right to data portability, and how to identify a “lead authority” for the GDPR’s one-stop shop enforcement mechanism.
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Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.