Mobile advertising company InMobi, whose advertising network reaches more than one billion devices worldwide through thousands of apps, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that it “deceptively tracked” the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers without their knowledge or consent, in a deal announced June 22. Central to the case is an alleged Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, violation, resulting in $950,000 in civil penalties and required implementation of a comprehensive privacy program.
Consumer advocate groups--Public Knowledge, Consumer Watchdog, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, TURN-The Utility Reform Network and Consumer Federation of America—recently filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and a petition with the Federal Communications Commission against AT&T, Cablevision, and Comcast, citing privacy-related offenses. The FTC complaint notes the companies’ failure to adequately disclose the extent of their consumer data use and sharing, arguing that their use of customer data without appropriate disclosures and without opt-in consent amounts to an “unfair and deceptive” practice in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The FCC petition, on the other hand, asserts that the cable and satellite providers fail to adequately obtain customer consent prior to collection and use of such data, in violation of federal law.
If you attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, you probably noticed many concepts applied to the one item that many Americans use every day: the automobile. Over the past few years technology developers and manufacturers have set their sights on the automotive industry, which is one of the largest industries in the United States. From automated cars, syncing software, to wearable devices that interact with a vehicle, it is clear that our time in the car is under an era of rapid change.
A German data protection regulator reportedly fined 3 companies—Adobe Systems, Punica, and Unilever—a total of 28,000 euros ($32,000) for continuing to rely on the Safe Harbor framework and failing to set up alternative legal channels for cross-border data transfers quickly enough, following Safe Harbor’s demise in October of last year. Adobe was fined 8,000 euros, Punica 9,000 euros, and Unilever 11,000 euros.
Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection, Johannes Caspar, stated that, “The fact that the companies have eventually implemented a legal basis for the transfer had to be taken into account in a favourable way for the calculation of the fines.”
Organizations that need to transfer personal data from the EU to the US have relied on the Safe Harbour framework for 15 years, which allowed them to store data about EU citizens on US servers, by certifying that they complied with EU data protection standards.
Last week, Sarah Bruno and Lourdes Turrecha joined International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) Privacy Advisor editor Angelique Carson to discuss their experiences in the privacy field.
Sarah and Lourdes chat about how they got into the privacy field, how they stay tech savvy when their job is to keep top innovators compliant in industries spanning from fashion retail to big tech, and the big issues for privacy pros. From data flowing across the globe and mitigating data incidents to FTC regulations and PR risks, tune in for this episode of The Privacy Advisor Podcast here.
On May 25, 2016, the White House released its much anticipated Data Security Policy Principles and Framework (Security Framework) for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). The PMI is aimed at pioneering a new model of patient-powered research to improve health and treat disease, which takes into account individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles.
Under a proposed EU regulation, online retail companies in Europe may no longer be able to use geo-tracking in online shopping. The European Commission released a draft regulation on May 25, 2016 that proposes the removal of geo-blocking for online shopping, stating that it wants to ensure that consumers seeking to buy products and services in an EU country, be it online or in person, are not discriminated against in terms of access to prices, sales, or payment conditions.
In July 2010, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that would explicitly include websites as “places of public accommodation” under the ADA, and sought public comment regarding proposed rules intended to ensure that websites will be fully accessible to individuals with a wide variety of disabilities. Since that time, owners and operators of e-commerce websites have been anxiously awaiting the promulgation of new rules governing website accessibility, only to see the DOJ repeatedly delay issuance. In September 2015, we published an alert warning retailers of the impending promulgation of the new rules, only to see the DOJ delay issuance until April 2016.
What’s the News?
Walgreens recently settled with the state of New York over allegations that the drug retail chain misled consumers with its pricing, including value and clearance prices. According to the New York attorney general’s office, an undercover investigation showed that Walgreens was overcharging customers compared to the prices displayed in print advertising and on-shelf tags. Walgreens agreed to pay $500,000 to settle the dispute and has agreed to review and correct the allegedly misleading pricing practices. This should serve as a reminder to retailers in all industries of the need to exercise care in product pricing, as this area has become a common target for regulators and the plaintiff’s bar.
On Monday, the US Supreme Court sent a potential class action case back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration, marking an intermediary win for Spokeo Inc., which uses a “people search engine” to find, compile, and sell publicly available personal information. The company came under fire for publishing inaccurate personal information about plaintiff Thomas Robins in a case that was expected to have major implications on US privacy and consumer protection law.
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