News from the Federal Trade Commission - July 2013

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Penn Corner - July 2013

Coping with COPPA

a child

The FTC’s revised Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule, which took effect July 1, widens the definition of children’s personal information to include persistent identifiers such as cookies that track a child’s activity online, geolocation information, photos, videos, and audio recordings. The FTC also has released guidance for small businesses and a video to help businesses comply with the rule.

Do Not Call Birthday Suit

birthday cake with candles

Mortgage Investors Corporation has agreed to pay a record $7.5 million to settle charges that its telemarketers called more than 5.4 million U.S. servicemembers and veterans whose phone numbers were on the National Do Not Call Registry. According to the FTC, the telemarketers pretended to be affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and pitched low-interest, fixed-rate mortgages at no cost. In reality, they offered only adjustable-rate mortgages, and payments would go up as interest rates increase. Check out our new infographic that marks the Registry’s 10-year history.

Merger Challenged

glass beer bottles

The FTC charged that Ardagh Group’s proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of Saint-Gobain Containers would violate U.S. antitrust law and lead to higher prices for consumers by creating a firm controlling over 75 percent of the glass containers sold to brewers and distillers. According to the FTC, the combination would eliminate beneficial competition that has led to lower prices for beer and spirits bottles. The Commission authorized staff to seek preliminary relief in federal court to stop the merger pending trial.  

No Relief

mortgage statement

The Commission sued to stop a mortgage relief scheme that allegedly deceived distressed homeowners. Ratan Baid, Madhulika Baid, and William D. Goodrich – and 7 affiliated companies – allegedly falsely claimed they would provide legal help to save homeowners from foreclosure, then charged them thousands in up-front fees in violation of federal law. They delivered little or no help, and drove their customers deeper into debt. The court’s temporary restraining order shuts down the defendants’ websites, freezes their assets, and appoints a receiver pending trial.


“At the FTC, protecting children’s privacy is a top priority. The updated COPPA rule helps put parents in charge of their children’s personal information as it keeps pace with changing technologies.”

— FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez

Search Results – the Real Deal?

FTC staff has sent letters to search engine companies to update guidance published in 2002 on distinguishing paid search results from natural search results. The letters note that in recent years, paid search results have become more difficult to identify as advertising. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to distinguish advertisements and avoid misleading consumers.

Credit Card Rate Scam

The FTC filed an amended complaint against eight new defendants behind the firm Treasure Your Success in a credit card rate reduction case the agency brought last year. The scheme involved deceptive “cardholder services” robocalls, promising to lower cardholders’ credit card rates in exchange for an up-front fee as high as $1,593.93.

Internet of Things Workshop – Date Change

The FTC will hold its workshop on the privacy and security of the Internet of Things on a new date, November 19. The event will address the implications of everyday devices – like appliances, cars, and even things you wear – being connected by the internet.

Cab Competition

The FTC has commented on the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission’s (DCTC) proposed rulemakings regarding passenger motor vehicle transportation service. Staff recommended that any regulations should be no broader than necessary to address legitimate public safety and consumer protection concerns and that DCTC allow for flexibility and experimentation in how passengers can summon taxis.


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