Answering the centuries’ old question, it appears it is the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) that watches the watchmen. The FTC sent warning letters to a pair of foreign app developers cautioning them that their practices of collecting children’s geolocation data without parental consent may be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). The letters warned China-based Gator Group Co. Ltd. and recently-defunct Sweden-based Tinitell, Inc. that companies targeting U.S. children must comply with U.S. privacy laws regardless of where they are based. The FTC also sent copies of the warning letters to the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, which make the apps available to consumers. While the apps give parents peace of mind by enabling them to track their children’s location to ensure they are safe, that benefit is negated when parents are not aware that that information is being collected and stored in a way that enables others to access that same data.
Elana Safner is an Associate in the firm's Washington, DC office. She advises clients on public policy, regulatory issues, and disputes affecting the communications sector, as well as privacy and cybersecurity matters. Elana also has experience with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) procedures and rulemakings.
She has a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) (US Specialization) certification from the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) has agreed to an expansion of its initial August 2017 proposed consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), in light of revelations of an additional security breach in October 2016, which it knew about but did not disclose until November 2017, after it settled over its initial May 2014 breach. The second security breach occurred right in the middle of the FTC’s nonpublic investigation into Uber’s security practices from the initial breach; nevertheless, Uber failed to disclose the breach. Both breaches resulted from Uber’s lax security practices and Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen described them as “strikingly similar.” In light of the additional information, the FTC withdrew from the original proposed settlement it reached after the May 2014 breach, expanded the terms, and threatened to fine Uber for future incidents. In an attempt by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to set a new tone for the company, Uber agreed to the revised terms on April 12. Continue Reading Failure to Signal: Uber Forced to Accept Expanded Settlement after Concealing Security Breach from FTC