Federal Communications Commission

Consumer lawsuits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) have surged following a 2015 declaratory order from the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), which included an expansive interpretation from the FCC of what constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” (“ATDS”). The D.C. Circuit’s much-awaited decision in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, 885 F.3d 687 (D.C. Cir. 2018) earlier this year set aside much of the FCC’s prior interpretation of what qualifies as an ATDS. ACA International was widely seen as a win for businesses and advertisers, but the decision has done little thus far to stem the tide of TCPA lawsuits, especially as the scope of the decision continues to play out. Continue Reading Businesses Yet to See Major Relief from TCPA Lawsuits Following ACA International Decision

This past week, several consumer actions made headlines that affect the retail industry.

TA Sciences Prohibited from Making False and Unsubstantiated Health Claims

Telomerase Activation Sciences, Inc. (“TA Sciences”) has agreed to stop making certain claims as to the anti-aging and other health properties of two of its supplement products, in response to FTC allegations that it made false or unsubstantiated claims regarding the products’ health benefits. The FTC’s order prohibits TA Sciences from misrepresenting that its products are clinically proven to reverse human aging, prevent or repair DNA damage, restore aging immune systems or increase bone density, or misrepresenting that such evidence or studies exists. The order also prohibits the company from (1) representing that paid commercial advertising is independent programing; (2) failing to disclose material connections between a product endorser and the company; (3) representing that any endorser is an independent user of the product; or (4) helping anyone else make false or misleading health and efficacy claims about its products. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral argument in ACA International v. FCC, the appeal of the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC’s”) July 2015 declaratory order interpreting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Although scheduled to last 40 minutes, oral argument before the three-judge panel lasted almost three hours. The nature of the judges’ questioning suggests that the D.C. Circuit may soon clarify the TCPA’s restrictions on automated telephone dialing, a result many affected businesses throughout the country would welcome. Continue Reading Appeal of FCC’s TCPA Order May Provide Clarity to Affected Businesses

The following consumer protection actions made headlines this week:

Epson to Make Advertising Modifications Following NAD Recommendations

Epson America Inc. has agreed to make some modifications to its advertising after a challenge from HP. The NAD recommended Epson discontinue its “loaded and ready” claim as it may confuse consumers into thinking its EcoTank printers are pre-filled with ink and ready to print immediately. The NAD reviewed numerous other Epson claims, including: (1) EcoTank printers offer “an unbeatable combination of convenience and value”; (2) EcoTank printers will “save [consumers] a small fortune on ink”; and (3) implied claims that EcoTank printers provide environmental benefits versus other printers. While the NAD found that the EcoTank printer can save a consumer money in the long run, it recommended that Epson discontinue its “small fortune” claim. The NAD also found that Epson provided support for its implied comparative environmental claims. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

This past week, several consumer, self-regulatory and regulatory actions made headlines:

Starbucks’ Glass Half Full: Coffee Purveyor Wins Underfilling Dismissal

On August 22, 2016, a U.S. District Court Judge in the Central District of California dismissed with prejudice class plaintiffs’ claims that Starbucks defrauded customers by overfilling its cold beverages with ice and underfilling with the ordered beverage. The Court found that the reasonable customer understands that ice displaces liquid and that some portion of a customers’ iced beverage would, indeed, contain ice. The Court defended Starbucks’ practice, saying that transparent cups plus the lack of advertising that the cold beverages would contain a specific number of ounces of actual liquid precluded class plaintiffs’ claims. Despite the dismissal, Starbucks still faces several similar underfilling class suits nationwide. Continue Reading Consumer Protection in Retail: Weekly Roundup

As reported on the Privacy & Information Security Law blog, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) entered into a Consent Decree with cable operator Cox Communications to settle allegations that the company failed to properly protect customer information when the company’s electronic data systems were breached in August 2014 by a hacker. The FCC alleged that Cox failed to properly protect the confidentiality of its customers’ proprietary network information (“CPNI”) and personally identifiable information, and failed to promptly notify law enforcement authorities of security breaches involving CPNI in violation of the Communications Act of 1934 and FCC’s rules.

Continue Reading FCC Reaches Settlement with Cable Operator over Customer Data Breach

As reported on the Privacy & Information Security Law blog, the Federal Communications Commission announced a $25 million settlement with AT&T Services, Inc. (“AT&T”) stemming from allegations that AT&T failed to protect the confidentiality of consumers’ personal information, resulting in data breaches at AT&T call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines. The breaches, which took place over 168 days from November 2013 to April 2014, involved unauthorized access to customers’ names, full or partial Social Security numbers and certain protected account-related data, affecting almost 280,000 U.S. customers.

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As reported in the Privacy & Information Security Law blog, the Federal Communications Commission announced that Verizon has agreed to pay $7.4 million to settle an FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation into Verizon’s use of personal information for marketing. The investigation revealed that Verizon had used customers’ personal information for marketing purposes over a multiyear period before notifying the customers of their right to opt out of such marketing.

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