The charges outlined in the FTC’s recent lawsuits against one software business and seven rent-to-own companies are surprising — some might even say creepy. These companies installed software on rented computers that gave them the ability to hit the “kill switch” if people were behind on their payments. But according to the FTC, it also let them collect sensitive personal information, grab screen shots, and take webcam photos of people in their homes.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a recent twist in so-called scareware schemes, where scammers send alarming messages to try to convince you that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Then, they try to sell you software to fix the problem. At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a massive international scam that tricked tens of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem.
Every year, the FTC Chairman highlights the work the agency has done to protect consumers and promote business competition. This year, for the first time, these highlights are online with interactive, multimedia features.
The social networking site RockYou has agreed to settle FTC charges that its security flaws allowed hackers to access the personal information of 32 million users. The FTC complaint also alleges that the company collected info from more than 100,000 kids in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). RockYou will pay a $250,000 civil penalty for the alleged COPPA violations.
Yesterday, we featured the FTC’s newly released privacy report, which outlines a framework for protecting privacy in the 21st Century. Among other recommendations, the report strongly supports Do Not Track, a mechanism that would allow you to choose what information is collected about your online activities and how it’s used.
In today’s world of smart phones, smart grids, and smart cars, companies are collecting, storing, and sharing more and more information about you. In fact, as illustrated by the FTC’s new video, you might not realize just how often companies do so.
Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC
When it comes to privacy promises, what businesses say about the personal information they collect from you has to line up with their day-to-day procedures. That’s the message of the FTC’s proposed settlement announced today with Facebook. Where did the company go wrong? The agency’s 8-count complaint boils down to this: Facebook’s privacy practices often flew in the face of its stated policies and, as one count alleges, the company made significant retroactive changes to its privacy practices, without getting users’ consent.
Chairman Jon Leibowitz today gave the keynote speech at an online privacy event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. He explained that the overall common privacy goal is to protect consumer privacy while ensuring a cyberspace that generates the free content we have all come to expect and enjoy. Chairman Leibowitz likened the paparazzi, who expose private moments, to invisible online data collection practices, which he called “cyberazzi.” He also highlighted FTC staff’s proposed framework for safeguarding consumers’ personal data and recent FTC privacy enforcement actions.