The Week in FTC Online Business News: Spammers, Big Data & Borders

Obamacare Spammers Agree To Settlement

Obamacare spammer FTC settlement
An Obamacare spammer buckled and now owes the FTC a few hundred thousand dollars.

Right before the Affordable Care Act launched, an email marketer launched a campaign that made it seem like people had to pick a new health care provider immediately or they’d be in violation of the law. The email included affiliate links to several insurance companies.

In the end, the email marketers settled with the FTC for $350,000 and a promise to never “misrepresent facts about any product or service, including health insurance.”

The Center for Digital Democracy Wants The FTC To Go After Big Business

Image source: http://www.democraticmedia.org/
Image source: http://www.democraticmedia.org/

The Center for Digital Democracy isn’t happy with the FTC. The non-profit believes the commission has been way too lenient when it comes to the U.S./E.U. online privacy safe harbor program. Specifically, the CDD thinks that data brokers and online marketers are “failing to keep its privacy promise to Europe.” The CDD’s main gripe:

“The commercial surveillance of EU consumers by U.S. companies, without consumer awareness or meaningful consent, contradicts the fundamental rights of EU citizens and European data protection laws, and also violates the intention of the Safe Harbor mechanism to adequately protect EU consumers’ personal information.”

Tldr; The standoff between folks interested in monetizing user data and people who are sticklers for Internet privacy, continues.

Canada & the U.S. Are Teaming Up For A Cross-Border Marketing Investigation

cross-border FTC investigation
Canada and the U.S. are teaming up for a cross-border FTC investigation.

Both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Competition Bureau of Canada have their sights set on Aegis Mobile. Apparently, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) hired Aegis to do some analysis and marketing work.

The cross-border collaboration caught the eye of the Competition Bureau of Canada, which launched an investigation into whether or not Aegis’ and CWTA’s advertising efforts were “false and misleading.” As part of the inquiry, the Competition Bureau, evoking the SAFE WEB Act, enlisted the FTC to seek and gather information about Aegis’ work with CTWA.

Aegis tried to quash the case, arguing that Aegis was a “common carrier” not subject to the SAFE WEB Act. But, the judge disagreed and the U.S.-Canadian FTC online marketing investigation will move forward.

FTC Green Lights New COPPA Safe Harbor Program

COPPA and FTC news
The FTC approved another parental approval COPPA program.

The Federal Trade Commission approved another “self-regulatory safe harbor oversight” alternative — the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe).

Remember, if you have an app or a website that collects information from minors, then you must adhere to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Including a line in your terms and conditions that kids under the age of 13 can’t use your website won’t ward off an FTC censure.

Click here to read more about COPPA restrictions (that were recently made stricter) and here to speak with a COPPA lawyer.

Big Data Assured That Congress Will Not Pass A Marketing Online Privacy Law Anytime Soon

This week, a bunch of data bigwigs gathered in Aspen and talked about, amongst other things, Congress’ current temperature regarding a universal online privacy law. Attendee and Experian’s senior vice president for government affairs, Tony Hadley, gave a speech in which he said that only a handful of congresspeople truly wants to regulate online marketing data.

In other words, things will remain the same for the foreseeable future.

Other FTC Internet-Related Tid Bytes

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