Accountability in the case of a deceptive merchant

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking an action against a payment processor which processed payments for deceptive merchants. The FTC based its claim on the argument that the processor knew or had to know that he served deceptive merchants. This development indicates that companies in the chain may be found liable for the actions of deceptive merchants and the importance of taking adequate measures to ensure that they are not working with deceptive merchants.

Settlement of FTC action against "support scheme" participants

According to a complaint filed by the FTC against various foreigners individuals in September 2012, the defendants placed ads with Google, which appeared when consumers searched for their computer company’s tech support telephone number. After ensuring that the consumers were on the phone, the defendants’ telemarketers allegedly claimed they were affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton, and informed consumers they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat to their computers. The scammers then offered to rid the computer of the non-existent malware for fees ranging from $139 to $360. Last week, one of the defendants in an alleged tech support scheme, has agreed to settle the FTC  complaint against him and to forfeit the money he made from the scheme.

Google to pay $17,000,000 after hacking a cookie setting in Safari

Google has settled a case brought against the company after hacking Safari's cookie settings. The company has agreed to pay $17m to 37 US states and the District of Columbia as compensation for tracking on millions of people by subverting Apple's web browser in 2011 and 2012.

Apple's default settings ban sites which users have not visited from setting "cookie", and Google admitted in 2012 that it had circumvented protections built into Apple's Safari browser on the iPhone, iPad and Mac to track users via its DoubleClick advertising network.

The settlement, announced on Monday, follows a record $22.5m fine handed out to Google in August 2012 over the same complaint by the FTC.

Google admitted that it had carried out the hacking of the Safari browser in February 2012, but did not admit liability, the same position that it adopted with the FTC.

FTC workshop on "native advertising” or “sponsored content"

The FTC is planning to host a one-day workshop next Wednesday (December 4, 2013) to examine the blending of advertisements with news, entertainment, and other editorial content in digital media, referred to as “native advertising” or “sponsored content." This workshop may eventually lead to new guidelines on this subject.

We will update regarding any further conclusions and guidelines published by the FTC with respect to this issue.