FTC Approves Children's Online Privacy Compliance Program

By Jenny Paul

The Federal Trade Commission has approved a new safe harbor program, called the iKeepSafe Safe Harbor Program, that websites and other online services may use to comply with its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act rule. 

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COPPA Parental Consent Expanded by FTC

By Debbie Wong* and Nickolas Milonas

The Federal Trade Commission recently expanded the options for obtaining verifiable parental consent (“VPC”) under recent revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.  COPPA requires covered websites and online services to obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting information on children under 13.  The VPC method must be reasonably calculated to ensure that the person giving consent is the child’s parent.  While the rule enumerates several acceptable methods for obtaining parental consent, changes to the rule that took effect last July allow for FTC approval of new VPC methods.  As we previously reported, the FTC has already approved and rejected new VPC methods under the revised rule.

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FCC Requires Closed Captioning for Online Video Clips from Televised Programming

By Jenny Paul and Marty Stern 

The Federal Communications Commission adopted an
order at its July meeting that extends its closed captioning requirements to online video clips from previously televised programming.

The new online closed captioning requirements will apply to video clips that a video programming distributor posts on its website or app and that it had previously televised in the United States with captions.  The requirements will not apply to the extent that a video clip posted online contains an audio track that is substantially different from that aired on television.  The requirements also do not currently apply to situations where a third-party programming provider, such as Hulu, posts clips from programming televised by a third party, although the FCC also asks for comment in a companion notice of proposed rulemaking whether the online video closed captioning requirements should be extended to those third-party providers as well.

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California Attorney General Offers Online and Mobile 'Do Not Track' Privacy Policy Recommendations

 By Jonathan D. Jaffe and Jeremy M. McLaughlin

California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently issued guidance to help companies provide more “meaningful” privacy policies. Entitled “Making Your Privacy Practices Public,” the recommendations consolidate previously issued guidance and provide new information regarding online tracking and Do Not Track signals. As the guidance document indicates, the recommendations “are not regulations, mandates or legal opinions” and offer greater protections than those required under existing law. Clearly, though, they reflect the attorney general’s preferences and what she believes are privacy best practices.

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Police Need Warrant to Search Cell Phones, Supreme Court Says

By Elyse Schoenfeld* and Nickolas Milonas

In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court held last week that police generally must have a warrant to search digital information on a cell phone seized during an arrest.  The decision in the case, Riley v. California, reflects the pervasive role of cell phones in everyday life and the intimate details they contain, and suggests that in future decisions the Court will treat data searches differently from searches of physical objects. 

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Aereo Grounded by Recent Supreme Court Opinion

By Krista Consiglio* and Nickolas Milonas

On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that Aereo violates television broadcasters’ exclusive public performance rights under the 1976 Copyright Act.  Aereo offered streaming broadcast TV programming over the Internet to customers in ten U.S. cities for a monthly fee, without paying retransmission fees to broadcasters that cable companies are required to pay for carrying broadcast programming.  

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Frequently Asked Questions About Net Neutrality

By Marc MartinJenny Paul, and Elyse Schoenfeld*

Net neutrality has been a contentious policy issue for many years. Like many such issues, it is subject to political spin, conflicting academic analyses, and industry and consumer group advocacy. As a result, much of the reporting on net neutrality leaves the underlying facts distorted and confusing. We have designed this FAQ as a handy resource to clarify the contested history of net neutrality, what net neutrality regulations are intended to accomplish, and what the FCC is considering in this sphere.  The FAQs begin after the jump.

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Connected Vehicles and Drones Get Boost From New Federal Research Programs

 By Tom DeCesar, Ed Fishman, Cliff Rothenstein and Marty Stern

Through the implementation of new pilot research programs, the U.S. Department of Transportation has placed itself in the middle of two of the transportation industry’s most significant innovations: connected vehicles and commercial drones.

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Mobile "Kill Switch" State Law Passed; Hackers Circumvent Mobile Lock

By Joy Tsai* and Nickolas Milonas

Minnesota recently became the first state to pass a “kill-switch” law, requiring all smartphones sold in the state after July 1, 2015 to include a security feature for owners to remotely disable their lost or stolen phones.  The “kill-switch” law aims to combat cell phone thefts, as the FCC estimates that nationally, one in three robberies involved a cell phone.  A Consumer Reports survey released last month found that 3.1 million Americans had cellphones stolen in 2013, which was almost double the 1.6 million thefts reported in 2012.  Allowing all smartphone owners to disable their devices after loss or theft is designed to deter theft in the first instance.  Some smartphone manufacturers already provide this security feature, and industry groups like CTIA note an industry-wide voluntary effort to combat theft, making Minnesota’s additional antitheft law unnecessary.  For example, Apple iPhones require user IDs and passwords for access, and include a remote lock and wipe feature to erase all content.

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Mobile App Privacy Class Action Suit Largely Defeated

By Mike Pfeifer* and Nickolas Milonas

In the latest development of ongoing concerns regarding mobile data privacy, Apple, major app developers, and social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Electronic Arts) recently succeeded in dismissing all but one of the claims in a data privacy class action lawsuit.  The suit centered on the apps’ alleged data harvesting of consumers’ address books and other mobile data.  The federal court for the Northern District of California tossed out all but one of the various claims in the lawsuit, which included alleged violations of both federal and state consumer protection laws, as well as violations of common law.  The class action combined four suits filed after it was discovered that a mobile photo sharing app, Path, secretly obtained information from consumers’ address books and calendars.  

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Broadcast Ownership Rules Undergo Scheduled FCC Review

By Krista Consiglio* and Nickolas Milonas

Every four years, the FCC reviews its broadcast ownership rules to keep them up to date with market trends.  The FCC began its statutorily required 2014 Quadrennial Regulatory Review of the Broadcast Media Ownership Rules by publishing a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in the Federal Register on May 20, 2014

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Snapchat Agrees to Settle FTC Allegations That It Deceived Users

 By Jenny Paul 

Snapchat, a mobile messaging app, recently agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that the company deceived consumers by making promises about the “disappearing nature” of the messages that it could not keep, the FTC announced last week.

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Eleventh Circuit Construes 'Called Party' Consent Provision of TCPA

 By Andrew Glass and Greg Blase 

Courts continue to weigh in on the evolving body of law under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit joined the conversation on the issue of who may be considered the “called party” under the TCPA for purposes of providing consent to receive auto-dialed and pre-recorded voice calls placed to a wireless number.  The TCPA prohibits such calls to wireless phones without the “prior express consent of the called party.”

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FTC Has Power to Regulate Data Security Practices, Court Rules

By Jenny Paul, Roberta Anderson and Marty Stern 

In a closely watched case, a federal district court judge last week ruled that the Federal Trade Commission has the authority to bring enforcement actions against companies for data security breaches as an unfair practice under the FTC Act. 
 

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ECJ Decision Broadens Protections For Database Creators

 By Tobias Bosch and Jenny Paul 

The European Court of Justice has issued a
decision that appears to broaden the legal protection accorded to databases, finding that data scraping by dedicated meta search engines infringes the rights of the database creator in certain circumstances.

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