The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it has approved a decision and order (30 March 2015) barring Health Discovery Corporation from making misleading or deceptive representations that its consumer directed iOS or Android software application MelApp can assess or diagnose melanoma risk early by analysing digital images of skin lesions captured by smart phones. Health Discovery Corporation has also been ordered to pay US$17,963 and to refrain from "claiming that any device detects or diagnoses melanoma or its risk factors, or increases users' chances of early detection, unless the representation is not misleading and is supported by competent and scientific evidence".
FTC's media release (13 April 2015)
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court of Australia has ordered Coles Supermarkets Australia Pty Ltd (Coles) to pay penalties of [AU$2.5 million] for making false or misleading representations and engaging in misleading conduct in relation to its bread products.
ACCC alleged that Coles promoted some of its bread products as freshly baked and in some cases freshly baked on-site, when the products had actually been "partially baked and then frozen off site by a supplier, transported and 'finished' at in-store bakeries within Coles supermarkets".
According to ACCC chairperson Rod Sims, the ACCC brought the claim against Coles because it was concerned that the supermarket's claims about its bread would mislead consumers and place "independently-owned and franchised bakeries that entirely bake bread from scratch each day at a competitive disadvantage".
ACCC's media release (10 April 2015)
Affiliate Marketing Network and Parent Company to Pay US$16 Million for Deceptive Weight-loss Marketing Scheme06 Apr 2015 Written by World Watch
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that a US district court has made a summary judgment (6 March 2015) ordering affiliate marketing network LeadClick Media (LeadClick) and its parent company CoreLogic Inc (CoreLogic) to pay US$16 million, after the court found that affiliate marketers recruited by LeadClick on behalf of LeanSpa LLC (LeanSpa) developed fake news sites which "deceived consumers by using real news organization names and logos along with purported testimonials from users of LeanSpa's [weight loss] products".
The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that massive open online course platform provider edX Inc (edX) has agreed to settle allegations that it breached the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended. The DoJ alleged that the platform provided by edX was "not fully accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision, individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals who have physical disabilities affecting manual dexterity".
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has made available a final order (13 March 2015) against the operators of Jerk.com Jerk LLC and John Fanning (the defendants), after it found that the defendants "deceived users about the source of content on the website. The FTC also found that the defendants falsely claimed that consumers could access premium features and revise their online profiles by paying $30.
The United States Department of Labor (DoL) has announced that the Bank of New York Mellon has agreed to pay $84 million to settle allegations including that the bank:
- mislead clients into believing it was "pricing their transactions in a more favorable manner" while in fact "for most standing instruction foreign currency exchange transactions with customers, including retirement plans, the bank assigned nearly the worst prices at which currencies had traded in the market during all or part of a day";
- "misrepresented and failed to disclose to clients how it was pricing the transactions and that the bank had engaged in a deliberate, prolonged effort to conceal its pricing methods"; and
- breached its fiduciary duties and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (further information).
According to labor secretary Thomas Perez, "this case is a reminder that financial institutions charged with safeguarding retirement plan assets, sometimes put the institution's interests ahead of those of the investors they represent".
DoL's media release (19 March 2015)
(Source: DoL; Cornell University Law School)
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that AMP Ltd subsidiary Australian Financial Planning Solutions Pty Ltd has been fined (12 January 2015) A$10,200 for making false or misleading representations in an article that appeared on its website in 2014.
According to ASIC, the article, which was titled "Benefits of a self-managed super fund":
- "contained misleading and unsubstantiated claims that major retail and industry superannuation funds will experience payout difficulties"; and
- "misrepresented the taxation implications of self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF), by giving the impression that certain tax benefits only apply to SMSFs, when they actually apply to most superannuation funds".
ASIC's media release (12 March 2015)
New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has announced that Selling Source (MoneyMutual) has been penalised US$2.1 million for marketing "illegal, online payday loans" to consumers.
According to NYDFS, Money Mutual:
- used celebrity endorser Montel Williams to market loans to consumers with interest rates "sometimes in excess of [1,300%]";
- targeted customers who were "repeat clients", including those who had taken out a new loan to pay off an already existing loan;
- "sold 'leads' with the personal information of approximately 800,000 ... consumers; and
- "failed to adequately warn consumers that the interest rates, charges, and repayment schedules offered by 'its network of trusted lenders' often prevented customers from being able to repay those loans on a timely basis, and caused them to roll over their loans or take out additional loans to pay off prior loans".
NYDFS's media release (10 March 2015)
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it has fined the following financial services providers for making potentially misleading representations to consumers:
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) has released the press brief Facebook, Twitter & YouTube - What are you doing about Violence Against Women? (August 2014) which sets out APC-developed research into the corporate policies of the global social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to "analyse each platform's mechanism for identifying, reporting and rectifying incidents of harassment or [violence against women]".
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