On November 23, 2010, a coalition of consumer advocacy groups consisting of the Center for Digital Democracy, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog, and the World Privacy Forum filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation and public accounting of how pharmaceutical and online health services gather and use consumer data. The coalition alleges that “privacy policies on health and pharmaceutical sites fail to meaningfully inform consumers of how the data collected … is used” and that “health consumers are the subject of unfair and deceptive practices as they visit medical information sites.” In the complaint, the advocacy groups call upon the FTC, among other things, to: (1) examine data collection and usage practices of pharmaceutical advertisers; (2) review the privacy policy pages on health and pharmaceutical websites and services; and (3) investigate whether there is a violation of the FTC’s endorsement guidelines when advice is given to patients or consumers from seemingly independent health bloggers who fail to disclose that they are sponsored by pharmaceutical or other companies.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.