The FTC recently settled with a surveillance app operator over allegations that the company facilitated the secret harvesting of personal information. According to the FTC, the main users of Support King, LLC’s “SpyFone” app were bad actors who used the tool to remotely monitor users’ physical and digital activities. The FTC dismissed the company’s argument that the users were employers and parents as a “pretext.” It felt neither group would want to use the product, which to install required minimizing the device’s security settings and potentially voiding the device warranty.

Continue Reading FTC Surveillance App Settlement Signals Concern Over Deceptive Tracking

The use of apps, wearables, and other devices used to track health and wellness data have continued to rise. The FTC again signaled its focus on this growing industry in a statement on the scope of the Health Breach Notification Rule. In the statement, the FTC called out specific types of apps and trackers that it views as having notification obligations under this rule.

Continue Reading FTC Warns Digital Health Industry to Comply with its Breach Notification Rule

The FTC recently announced the removal of Aristotle International, Inc. from the list of seven approved safe harbor programs under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Programs that are approved by the FTC must place requirements on participating organizations that are the same -or greater- than the requirements of COPPA. (As we have reported in the past, COPPA requires, inter alia, getting verified parental consent before collecting personal information from children online.) Companies that participate in those approved COPPA safe harbor programs are deemed in compliance with COPPA. Such protection can be valuable with a law, like COPPA, that has been found to be confusing to operationalize.

Continue Reading A COPPA First: Safe Harbor Program Removed From Approved List

The FTC recently voted to authorize the use of compulsory processes—the FTC’s primary investigatory tools—on what it calls “key law enforcement priorities.” The resolutions allow investigators to take actions like issuing subpoenas and civil investigations demands (commonly referred to as “CIDs”) in a variety of areas. Of note is the inclusion of both healthcare markets and technology platforms, signaling a potential FTC interest in those sectors.

Continue Reading FTC Signals Focus on Healthcare and Technology Platforms, Among Others

MoviePass, a movie subscription service, has agreed to a proposed settlement with the FTC over alleged deception and lack of security allegations. The now-defunct company not only allegedly marketed its service as a “one movie per day” service – yet took steps to actively deny subscribers such access – it also failed, according to the FTC, to secure subscriber’s personal data. The company also was alleged to have violated the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confident Act, which impacts the offering of “negative option” (subscription) services.
Continue Reading FTC Settles Security Claims With Both MoviePass and Its Owners

The new acting FTC chair, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, recently signaled that the FTC may increase enforcement and penalties in the privacy and data security realm. Slaughter pointed to several areas of focus for the FTC this year, which companies will want to keep in mind:
Continue Reading What Is FTC’s Course Under Biden?

The FTC recently settled with Flo Health, Inc., a popular fertility-tracking app, based on promises made about how health data would be shared.  In its complaint, the FTC alleged that while Flo promised to keep users’ health data private and only use it to provide the app’s services to users, in fact, health information of over 100 million users was being shared with popular third party companies. Namely, third parties who provided marketing and analytics services to the app.
Continue Reading FTC Settles with Fertility Tracking App For Alleged Deceptive Data Sharing Practices

The Federal Trade Commission recently entered the biometric fray. It settled with a now-defunct photo-storage app over its use of facial recognition technology. According to the FTC, the company engaged in a variety of deceptive and unfair acts, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.
Continue Reading Defunct Photo App Agrees to Erase Biometric Data in FTC Settlement

Alleging unfair and deceptive practices in violation of the FTC Act, the FTC recently entered into a settlement agreement with SkyMed International, Inc. The company sells travel emergency plans to individuals who sustain medical emergencies or injuries while traveling internationally, and has signed up -according to the FTC- thousands of consumers. During the sign-up process individuals provided the company with sensitive health information.
Continue Reading FTC Settles with Travel Services Provider Over Security Issues

HyperBeard, the makers of several children’s mobile apps (including KleptoCats), recently settled with the FTC over failure to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting children’s personal information online, in violation of COPPA. In its complaint, the FTC argued that the HyperBeard apps were clearly directed to children. The apps contained brightly-colored animated characters, kid-friendly language, games that were easy to play, and were promoted on kids’ websites and publications.
Continue Reading KleptoCats Maker Settles with FTC Over Failure to Get Parental Consent