Federal Trade Commission

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FTC Is Now on Ashley Madison's Case

New CEO says they're 'truly sorry' for the site messing up people's lives

(Newser) - Two new executives at cheaters dating site Ashley Madison are offering up a mega-mea culpa for last year's hack -and- leak of user information, but that's likely not going to stem the flow of issues its parent company is now facing, including class-action lawsuits and an investigation by... More »

Staples to Pay Office Depot $250M Breakup Fee

Merger is off after judge's ruling

(Newser) - Staples and Office Depot are scrapping their planned $6.3 billion merger after a federal judge blocked the deal, saying the government had made the case that the combination would likely hurt competition in office supplies, reports the AP . The Federal Trade Commission had sought to block the merger of... More »

Feds Looking Into the University of Phoenix

Online college under the microscope by the FTC

(Newser) - The University of Phoenix, which runs an online college popular among military veterans, is under federal investigation for possible deceptive or unfair business practices, its parent company the Apollo Education Group told shareholders yesterday. In an SEC filing, the company disclosed that it had received a "civil investigative demand"... More »

Lawsuits: Firms Scamming Folks WIth Student Loans

Illinois attorney general warns consumers about 'predatory' offers

(Newser) - Debt-settlement companies have long targeted people saddled with mortgages or credit card debt, promising more manageable monthly payments, settlements, or even complete loan forgiveness—but now these companies are targeting individuals bogged down with student loans, reports the New York Times . And these companies' tactics may not be on the... More »

The FTC Has Gotten 2K Complaints About Yelp

Site is locked in legal battle over users' anonymity

(Newser) - How much do some small businesses hate Yelp? So much that the Federal Trade Commission has gotten more than 2,046 complaints about the company since 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports. Most are from small businesses saying they've been hit with unfair or fraudulent reviews—sometimes right after... More »

Weight-Loss Companies Are Full Of It, Say Feds

One even used fake news sites to tout its products, says FTC

(Newser) - The Federal Trade Commission has settled fraud charges against four companies accused of selling products backed by dubious claims. Sensa Products, L'Occitane, HCG Diet Direct, and LeanSpa haven't admitted or denied wrongdoing, but will pay $34 million in refunds to customers, the New York Times reports. The move... More »

Under FTC's Microscope: Facebook Privacy, Again

Feds looking into proposed new rules

(Newser) - Two weeks after Facebook's privacy policies were given yet another edit, the feds are taking a closer look. The Federal Trade Commission is deciding whether the proposed policies violate a 2011 agreement that forces the social network to get the explicit consent of users before it dishes out their... More »

Time for Fine Print on Social Media Ads: FTC

The old advertising rules still apply

(Newser) - Just because an ad's on Twitter doesn't mean it can get away with being misleading. The FTC today unveiled new guidelines for social media advertising, saying that it must adhere to the same essential rules as traditional advertising. For instance, ads must make clear the fact that they... More »

Obama to Promote Edith Ramirez to Chair FTC

Move opens space for another Democrat on commission

(Newser) - President Obama will promote Federal Trade Commission member Edith Ramirez to chair the agency, a White House official tells Politico , opening the door for a third Democrat to join the commission. Ramirez has been at the FTC since 2010, and "has been instrumental in ensuring there is robust competition... More »

FTC Tightening Web Privacy Rules for Kids

Biggest revamp in decade requires more consent from parents

(Newser) - A lot has changed online since 1998, when the FTC set up a privacy protection law for children online—and the federal organization believes it's time for an update. New rules expected within weeks would require companies to get parental consent for a wider range of data collection on... More »

Complaints Surge Over Telemarketing

Illegal robocalls have customers fuming

(Newser) - Americans have had it up to here with telemarketers—particularly the robot variety. April saw 212,000 complaints about robocalls, up from just 65,000 in October 2010, the government says. Over the same span, complaints seeking a stop to telemarketers' calls rose from 71,000 to 182,000, the... More »

Critics Say Kids' Websites Gather Data Illegally

McDonald's, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network among those named

(Newser) - Are McDonald's, Nickelodeon, Subway, and other major companies illegally collecting data from children online? A group of 20 public interest groups believes so, and it has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission to halt the behavior, reports the New York Times . The complaints assert that six popular websites,... More »

Google Whacked With Record $22.5M Privacy Fine

Firm used loophole to get past Safari privacy controls

(Newser) - Tracking Internet users who had a "do not track" privacy setting switched on has cost Google $22.5 million. The fine, the largest the Federal Trade Commission has ever levied against a company, came after investigators found that the search firm had bypassed privacy settings in Apple's Safari... More »

FTC Inquiry May Delay Facebook's Instagram Deal

Second-quarter date sounds 'terrifically optimistic,' anti-trust lawyer says

(Newser) - Facebook and Instagram aren't likely to finish tying the knot by the second quarter as they'd originally intended, because the Federal Trade Commission has launched a competition probe into the deal. Investigators are already collecting information from competitors like Google and Twitter, sources tell the Financial Times . Competition... More »

Feds Hire Heavyweight Lawyer in Google Probe

Beth Wilkinson's selection points to likely court case

(Newser) - As its investigation into Google's search practices continues, the Federal Trade Commission has hired a top outside lawyer for the case. The choice of an outside litigator is a rare one for the FTC—it's happened only twice in 10 years, the New York Times notes—and it... More »

FTC to Ad Firms: Get a Real 'Do Not Track' Option Online

Consumers need to be able to opt out of being monitored, watchdog says

(Newser) - When consumers say they don't want their online activity monitored by companies mining data out of their every click they mean it, the Federal Trade Commission warned yesterday. The consumer protection agency said that if technology and advertising companies can't voluntarily create an effective and easy to use... More »

US, EU Launch New Google Privacy Probes

FTC investigates breach of Safari browser settings

(Newser) - Last month, it emerged that Google was skirting privacy settings on Apple's Safari browser; now federal, state, and European Union officials are investigating the since-halted practice, which centers on the installation of tracking files. Google faces a $16,000 fine per violation per day—which could add up to... More »

FTC May Require Facebook Privacy Features Be Opt-In

Settlement also reportedly calls for 20 years of privacy audits

(Newser) - Facebook and the FTC are apparently near a settlement over allegations that the social network misled users when it altered privacy settings in 2009. Under the settlement, Facebook would need “express affirmative consent” to make “material retroactive changes,” insiders tell the Wall Street Journal . Translation from Business ... More »

Reebok to Refund $25M for Bogus Toning Shoes

In order to settle FTC's false advertising complaint

(Newser) - Reebok has agreed to dole out up to $25 million in refunds for people who bought its EasyTone and RunTone shoes, in the mistaken belief that they’d actually help them tone their lower body as advertised. The move settles an FTC complaint that Reebok’s various claims about the... More »

Ashton Kutcher Could Face Federal Probe

'Guest editor' actor invested in companies touted by Details ; who knew?

(Newser) - A guest editorship may land Ashton Kutcher in trouble with the feds. An online-only "Social Issue" of Details touted several tech start-ups and failed to clearly note that guest editor Kutcher is an investor in several of them, discovered Gawker . He may have even run afoul of the law.... More »

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