Two online marketers of acai berry products recently settled the FTC's charges that the marketers engaged in deceptive practices by operating "fake news" sites directly and through affiliates to promote acai berry products. Although these cases are extreme examples of deceptive practices, they should serve as an important reminder for companies engaging in affiliate marketing that the FTC actively enforces in this area using the FTC Act, and that companies marketing through affiliates and affiliate marketers must understand and address the FTC's Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which were updated in 2009 ("Guides"). As discussed further below, this can pose a challenge for companies of all types advertising through affiliate marketing programs
On May 3, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced that Ceridian Corporation and Lookout Services, Inc. agreed to settle the FTC's allegations that the companies failed to safeguard their business customers' employee personal information. Ceridian's services include payroll processing, payroll-related tax filing, benefits administration and other human resource services for business customers. Lookout provides a web-based computer product that is designed to help employers comply with their obligations under federal law to complete and maintain a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9 about each employee in order to verify that the employee is eligible to work in the United States.
The Google Buzz settlement that the Federal Trade Commission announced on March 30, 2011 is the latest in the line of the Commission's numerous Section 5 actions related to privacy and data security violations. The Google Buzz settlement, however, is unique in several important ways. The settlement represents (i) the first FTC settlement order has requires a company to implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect the privacy of consumers' information, and (ii) the Commission's first substantive U.S.-EU Safe Harbor framework enforcement action. Let's dive in (make sure to read the "Action Item" at the conclusion of the post!).
As we have previously reported on our blog, 2011 has seen a whirlwind of privacy enforcement activity. The FTC, NLRB, EEOC, HHS and FINRA have all taken privacy enforcement actions this year. This March, the FTC has announced privacy settlements with Chitika and Twitter.