Home > Uncategorized > FTC continues to pursue false Safe-Harbor claims

FTC continues to pursue false Safe-Harbor claims


U.S.-EU-Safe-Harbor-Framework-certification-markTwo more U.S. companies this month alone agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (“FTC) allegations that they falsely claimed to be in compliance with the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework and the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Framework.

The FTC’s complaint against one company alleges that the company misled consumers about its dispute resolution procedures. Specifically, on the company’s website they misrepresented that U.S.-EU Safe Harbor disputes would be settled by an “arbitration administration agency” with the costs of such arbitration to be split evenly between the parties; however, its Safe Harbor certification stated that it would resolve disputes through the European Data Protection Authorities, which according to the Safe Harbor requirements is permitted and should not be at the cost to a consumer and does not require in-person hearings.

The complaint also alleged that the company falsely represented that it was a licensee of the TRUSTe Privacy program even though it was not a current licensee of the program.

These cases clearly demonstrate, the FTC has made a strong commitment to enforcing lapsed self-certifications as well as mis-leading or flat out violations of the Safe Harbor Agreement. It also serves as a reminder that these certifications must be renewed on an annual basis and finally organizations must employ privacy professionals who know and understand these requirements and how the impact their businesses. Further violations could result in both criminal and civil sanctions as well as debarment of exporting/transferring data out of the EU.

Aletheia Consulting Group provides expert cost-effective global advisory solutions for multinational organization human resource, compliance, privacy, and security risk management resource needs. Our primary focus is on companies that have overseas operations that seek to navigate the sometimes challenging sea of international risk management involving the people, processes, technology and organization.

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