New Requirements for FTC Data Security Settlements

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Two of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) most recent data security settlements include new requirements that go beyond previous data security settlements. The new provisions (1) require that a senior corporate officer provide to the FTC annual certifications of compliance and (2) specifically prohibit making misrepresentations to the third parties conducting required assessments. A statement accompanying these settlements noted that the FTC has instructed staff to examine whether its privacy and data security orders could be strengthened and improved.

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FTC: “Illegal Robocallers, You’re Out”

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In an active week of FTC announcements, the agency on March 26, 2019, announced four major settlements with entities that were responsible for billions of illegal robocalls made to consumers nationwide. The entities targeted by the agency initiated illegal robocalls across a number of industries – they pitched auto warranties, debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, and Google search results services. These settlements resolved FTC allegations that the defendants had violated the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule.

In Veterans of America, the FTC’s complaint against Travis Deloy Peterson alleged that he “created and used a series of corporate entities and fictitious business names that sound like veterans’ charities to operate a telemarketing scheme that used robocalls to trick generous Americans into giving their vehicles or other valuable property to him” since at least 2012. The settlement includes a monetary judgment of $541,032.10 and would permanently ban defendant Peterson or his employees or contractors from soliciting charitable contributions, making misrepresentation in advertising or promoting any good or service, initiating robocalls, and engaging in deceptive and abusive telemarketing.

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FTC Seeks Information from Platform-Based ISPs about Their Privacy Practices

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Following congressional hearings last month on potential federal data privacy legislation − Hearing on Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Hearing on Improving Data Security at Consumer Reporting Agencies before the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy − the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on March 26, 2019, announced the initiation of a study concerning the privacy policies, procedures, and practices of seven internet service providers (ISPs). The FTC has used this process in other industries or areas of focus to gather information that it may later share in a public report.

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The FTC’s Approach to Consumer Privacy

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As part of the FTC’s Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century, the Commission will hold a two-day hearing on April 9–10 at the Constitution Center (400 7th Street SW in Washington D.C.). The FTC has received 40 comments already and will continue receiving comments until May 31, 2019.

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FTC Settlement with Video Social Networking App Largest Civil Penalty in a Children’s Privacy Case

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a settlement with Musical.ly, a Cayman Islands corporation with its principal place of business in Shanghai, China, resolving allegations that the defendants violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule.

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FTC Commissioners Call for Federal Privacy Legislation and Highlight Lack of Civil Penalty Enforcement in Senate Hearing

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In their first congressional testimony together as a full commission, the Federal Trade Commissioners expressed support for comprehensive federal privacy legislation before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security on November 27. While the focus of the hearing was primarily on privacy and data security, the Commission’s written testimony provided updates regarding other consumer protection and competition matters.

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