• On March 11, 2011, the FTC announced its settlement agreement with social networking site Twitter to resolve charges that Twitter deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information. Under the settlement, Twitter will be barred for 20 years from misleading consumers about the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, and confidentiality of nonpublic consumer information. The company also must establish and maintain a comprehensive information security program, which must be audited independently every other year for 10 years. The FTC’s investigation stemmed from two high-profile hackings in 2009 of Twitter administrative accounts which were then used to access other accounts. In the Matter of Twitter, Inc., FTC File No. 092-3093.

A copy of the FTC’s press release can be found here.

  • On March 14, 2011, the FTC announced its settlement with online advertising company Chitika, Inc., which was accused of falsely indicating that consumers could “opt out” of receiving cookies or targeted ads, but actually only excluded those consumers from such practices for ten days. The FTC drafted a federal complaint against Chitika on the basis of its investigation, alleging that Chitika’s “opt-out mechanism was deceptive and violated federal law.” The settlement bars Chitika from making misleading statements about the extent of data collection and the extent to which consumers can control that collection. It also requires that every targeted ad include a link to a mechanism that allows a consumer to opt out of Chitika’s tracking for at least five years. Chitika is required to destroy all identifiable user information that it collected when the defective opt-out was in place. In the Matter of Chitika, Inc., FTC File No. 1023087.

A copy of the FTC’s press release can be found here.

  • The FTC will host a forum on May 11, 2011, in Washington, DC to examine how the government, businesses, and consumer protection organizations can work together to prevent consumers from receiving unauthorized third-party charges on their phone bills — a practice known as “cramming”. The forum, which will be held at the FTC’s satellite building conference center, will be open to the public. The FTC invites interested parties to submit comments on cramming prevention through the FTC’s online comment form no later than April 27, 2011. The FTC’s Press Release on the Cramming Forum can be found here. Comments can be submitted to the FTC here.