Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Advertising and Marketing & Privacy and Security

  • The FTC approved a settlement with the operators of MoviePass over allegations that they took steps to block subscribers from using the service as advertised, while also failing to secure subscribers’ personal data. The FTC alleged that MoviePass Inc.—along with CEO Mitchell Lowe, and MoviePass’ parent company and its CEO, deceptively marketed its “one movie per day” service, then deployed deceptive tactics aimed at preventing subscribers from using the service as advertised —actions the FTC alleged violated both the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. The FTC also alleged MoviePass’s operators left a database containing large amounts of subscribers’ personal information unencrypted and exposed, leading to unauthorized access.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Made in USA

  • The FTC announced that mattress company, Resident Home LLC, and its owner, Ran Reske, will pay $753,000 to settle FTC charges that they made false, misleading, or unsupported advertising claims that their imported DreamCloud mattresses were made from 100% USA-made materials. The FTC says all DreamCloud mattresses are finished overseas and, in some cases, are wholly imported or use significant imported materials.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Endorsements, Influencers, and Reviews

  • The FTC sent a clear message to 700 companies explaining that, if they use endorsements to deceive consumers, the FTC will be ready to hold them responsible with every tool at its disposal. The rise of social media has made it more difficult to determine what is authentic content and advertising and what is not.  Consequently, the FTC is now using its Penalty Offense Authority to remind advertisers of the law and deter them from breaking it. By sending a Notice of Penalty Offenses to more than 700 companies, the agency is placing them on notice they could incur significant civil penalties—up to $43,792 per violation—if they use endorsements in ways that run counter to prior FTC administrative cases. Companies receiving the notice represent an array of large companies, top advertisers, leading retailers, top consumer product companies, and major advertising agencies.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Fair Credit Reporting Act & Bureau of Consumer Protection

  • Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina M. Khan issued a joint statement with Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on an amicus brief the two agencies and the North Carolina Department of Justice filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit urging the court to overturn a lower court decision in Henderson v. The Source for Public Data, L.P. In their statement, Chair Khan and Director Chopra argued that the lower court’s decision in Henderson would undermine the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by granting immunity to consumer reporting agencies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. According to the joint statement, “Henderson involves a background check company that obtains and assembles publicly available information including criminal records into background check reports that it sells to employers and others. Companies like these have long been considered consumer reporting agencies governed by the FCRA, and the fact that a company offers its products through a website or delivers data online does not change that.”

FTC Operations & Privacy and Security

  • The FTC released the following tentative meeting agenda item for the October 21 Commission meeting: Presentation on the Privacy Practices of Six Major Internet Service Providers. Staff will present some findings from evidence gathered pursuant to the 2019 6(b) orders issued to six Internet service providers and three of their advertising affiliates. The public release of the report is subject to commission vote. Click here for information on ways to attend the meeting and submit comments.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Bureau of Consumer Protection

  • A new staff report, “Serving Communities of Color”, released by the Federal Trade Commission shows a number of key differences in the way that fraud and other consumer problems affect communities of color, from the types of problems reported to the methods used to pay scammers. The research found those living in majority Black and Latino communities more often reported losing money through means that have few, if any, fraud protections ― for example, cash or debit cards. Those living in majority White communities, by contrast, filed the largest share of their reports about paying with credit cards, which offer more robust fraud protection.  The research also found that people living in majority Black and Latino communities were more likely to report issues with car buying, banks and lenders, credit issues, and debt collection than those in majority White communities.  The new report also highlights the FTC’s law enforcement and outreach efforts addressing consumer protection issues facing communities of color.