There is no doubt that working from home has become a new normal for millions of employees worldwide, and for some, this may be the future of their employment. When the workforce made the shift to remote work and online meeting navigation, Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (“Zoom”) quickly became the frontrunning platform. Many companies flocked to Zoom because of its alleged higher levels of security and encryption capabilities. However, a recent lawsuit against Zoom, by nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, reveals that Zoom may not actually be as safe for users as it once claimed to be. Other lawsuits allege privacy concerns including Zoom sending user data to Facebook. Most recently, the FTC filed a suit against Zoom on November 9th for allegations of unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (“UDAAP”) related to encryption, cloud storage, third-party safeguards, and failure to disclose information to users. Though various privacy concerns arise, the platform’s popularity continues to increase given its newfound necessity.
Earlier this year, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (“ESRB”) assigned a new disclosure for their video game ratings system: “In-Game Purchases (includes Random Items).” The decision stems from public outcry and FTC concerns about gamers, mostly children, being able to easily spend real money for randomized in-game content. But is it enough?
There seems to be no end in sight to the various concerns associated with COVID-19, and experts are hesitant to say when and if life as we knew it will ever return to “normal.” As the pandemic persisted, companies large and small quickly realized that jobs we all assumed had to be done in an office, can in fact be done from the comfort of one’s home. #WFH is a trending social media hashtag standing for “work from home,” and posts using this hashtag range anywhere from how to dress comfortably while remaining professional when working from home to setting up the perfect home office. #WFH, however, is not just a social media trend, but a new normal for many Americans as employers were forced to allow their employees to work from home due to health concerns related to COVID-19. This gives rise to questions such as, what about safety and security concerns related to employer data? And, where do employees draw the line between work and home when working from home? While this may be uncharted territory, top researchers say that #WFH may be the next big thing for companies worldwide.
TikTok continues to rise in popularity, though their history of complaints and lawsuits paints a different picture. On February 27, 2019 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settled with TikTok for $5.7 million in response to a child privacy complaint. This settlement was the largest civil penalty obtained for a child privacy complaint, prompting TikTok to take corrective action by hiring compliance focused employees. Consumer groups now argue that TikTok has failed to make such changes and continues to “flout the law”. In response to national security concerns, President Trump signed an executive order on August 6, 2020 effectively banning the application in the U.S.
With changes to the regulations of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student-athlete model looming overhead, the role of athlete representation is significant in the conversation relating to name, image, and likeness (NIL) of the student athlete. The NCAA has a long-standing “no-agent” rule that forbids student-athletes from being represented by an agent or organization in the marketing of his or her athletic ability until after the completion of their last intercollegiate contest. The NCAA determines a student-athlete’s eligibility based partly on their amateurism status, a term which is not expressly defined by the NCAA, although guided by several factors. Among those factors that would remove an athlete’s eligibility from NCAA competition, is a binding agreement to be represented by an agent at any time before or during a student-athletes collegiate career, however, there are a few exceptions to this factor.The underlying purpose of the “no-agent” rule is to protect student athletes from exploitation in the open market. To further regulate potential issues, the NCAA adopted the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, which effectively criminalizes contact between agents and athletes before the athletes completion of their last intercollegiate contest.
As our society evolves over to a more digital world, it is important to take a step back and review what we are putting online. Recently, data breaches have become a common occurrence in our day-to-day lives. In 2016, personal information from about 25 million Uber customers and drivers in the United States. The notorious website for individuals seeking extra marital affairs, Ashley Madison, has itself fallen victim to a data breach. The hacker dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data into/onto the dark web. The data released in the Ashley Madison breach included names, passwords, addresses, and telephone numbers of users who created an account on the site. When data breaches like these happen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) steps in to protect the United States consumers by investigating the source of data breaches and prosecuting hackers.
On September 10, 2019 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent warning letters to three companies that sell oils, tinctures, capsules, “gummies,” and creams containing cannabidiol (CBD) regarding the companies’ false advertising practices. Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD does not cause intoxication like THC.
Thanks to the continued prominence of social media in people’s daily lives, it is no surprise that more familiar marketing strategies such as celebrity product endorsements would update for the current era. Recently, social media advertising has practically entered the realm of science fiction with the introduction of computer-generated influencers. These avatars are created to sell, but who is responsible if they fail to comply with advertising laws?
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) prohibits unfair or deceptive collection, use, and disclosure of the personal information of children on the internet. COPPA covers both website operators and app developers, and prevents collection of personal information without verified, written consent of parents. On February 27, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against TikTok, previously known as Music.ly. The complaint alleged that Music.ly knowingly violated COPPA when it collected data from children without written consent of parents. Music.ly settled for $5,700,000.00, the largest civil penalty obtained by the FTC for violations of COPPA.
Each year, approximately twelve million Americans resort to payday loans for quick money to pay off bills and cover emergency expenses. The small, short-term unsecured loans give borrowers a quick way to get money with little consideration of their creditworthiness. Borrowers are plagued with extremely high annual percentage rates to offset the seemingly substantial risk to the lender. However, many studies have shown that payday loans carry no more long-term risk to the lender than other forms of credit. Lenders are able to gain from the high interest rates that burden borrowers while simultaneously benefitting from the relatively low-stakes gamble of the nature of the loan. This illuminates a harrowing truth: the real victims of exploitative and predatory “cash advances” are the borrowers themselves who continue taking on more and more of these high-interest loans in a vicious cycle to repay small debts.