FTC issues warning about companies that make false claims regarding protecting personal information

The Federal Trade Commission warns that corporations who make falsified claims regarding how they protect personal information of consumers will be prosecuted.

FTC Acting Associate Director Kristin Cochran said that unprecedented data collection by American companies is no longer “the stuff dystopian fiction .”

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“False claims regarding anonymization are welcome to the FTC,” Ms. Cohen posted on the regulator’s blog. Companies that misuse consumer data are subject to disciplinary action by the FTC. Recent cases show that the FTC doesn’t tolerate businesses who over-collect, retain indefinitely, or misuse consumer information .

Ms. Cohen cited as an example a 2021 Settlement with Flo Health. This was a woman’s fertility and period tracking app that the FTC claimed shared user’s health information with third parties including Facebook and Google despite promises to keep it private. In January 2021, the FTC made public this settlement just prior to President Biden’s election.

Although Ms. Cohen did not name specific targets, the agency listed some sensitive data that could be misused including health and location information. Ms. Cohen noted also that many devices can collect such data including phones, cars and wearable fitness trackers, as well as internet browsers.

” The commission is determined to use the entire scope of its legal powers to protect consumers privacy,” Ms. Cohen stated. If we find illegal activity that exploits Americans’ location, health, or any other sensitive data .”

, we will enforce the law vigorously.

Ms. Cohen stated that criminals could use compromised data to scams and identity theft and information regarding reproductive health can subject individuals to discrimination, stigmatization, or other serious harms.

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Last Week, three Democrats representing the House Committee on Oversight and Reform stated that they are investigating whether personal data relating to women who seek abortions were sold.

Data privacy issues aren’t limited to domestic criminals. Christopher Balding, an American researcher, stated last month that evidence was found that China had collected data from smart coffee machines made in China that were then exported to other countries.

Mr. Balding shared his report with New Kite Data Labs. It focused on internet-connected coffeemakers manufactured by Kalerm in China. However, other Web-linked devices could pose privacy risks. Robotic vacuums, thermostats that use machine learning and other home appliances are just a few of the items that can generate information potentially useful to criminals or others seeking to exploit vulnerable individuals.

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