• On October 25, 2011, the FTC finalized settlements with the marketers of two smartphone applications, AcneApp and Acne Pwner, that claimed the apps cure acne. (See September 12 edition of This Week in Telecom.) According to an agency press release, the settlements prohibit the entities from making acne-related claims about their apps and from misrepresenting “research, tests, or studies.” More information is available here.
  • On October 24, 2011, the FTC finalized a settlement with Google involving social network site Google Buzz. The FTC had alleged that Google Buzz infringed user privacy. In a March 2011 press release announcing the settlement, the FTC stated “Although Google led Gmail users to believe that they could choose whether or not they wanted to join the network, the options for declining or leaving the social network were ineffective.” The settlement prohibits Google from making further privacy-related representations, and requires it to implement a privacy program and to submit to independent privacy audits for the next 20 years. The FTC press release about the settlement is available here.
  • The FTC seeks comment on proposed changes to its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule promulgated under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The proposed changes include updating the definition of “personal information” to include geolocation information and other types of persistent identifiers, such as tracking cookies used for behavioral advertising. The FTC also proposes adding new methods for obtaining verifiable parental consent, including electronic scans of signed parental consent forms and video-conferencing, and eliminating “e-mail plus” verification of parent consent which is considered less reliable. The FTC also proposes to strengthen oversight of self-regulatory “safe harbor programs” by implementing reporting and auditing requirements. Comments are due November 28, 2011. The FTC press release about the proceeding is available here. The text of the Federal Register notice is available here.