Careful Communication and Proper Use of Computers

UK Office releases online and mail order retailers resource
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced the release of The Distance Selling Hub online resource to assist online and mail order retailers comply with their legal obligations. According to the OFT, many businesses are not fully complying with the Distance Selling Regulations , which include an unconditional cooling off period and a full refund if goods are not delivered within 30 days. The Hub provides regulation summaries, practical examples and training materials to assist businesses to review their sales and returns policies and ensure that they are compliant.
OFT’s media release (1 August 2011)
(Source: OFT)

FTC Halts Pay-Day Loan Deceit

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that a federal court has halted an online operation that debited consumers’ accounts without their knowledge when they signed up for online pay-day loans. According to the FTC, the operator’s websites asked for consumers’ personal and financial information in the pay-day loan application form, which included a discreet option to sign up for discount programs for US$59.90-$99.90 per month in direct debits. Many customers were unwittingly enrolled in these programs as a result. The complaint will be heard by the US District Court.
FTC’s media release (1 August 2011)
(Source: FTC)

Investigation into Unauthorised Data Collection

CNET reports that Google Street View acquired and publically displayed information including “the street addresses and unique identifiers of computers and other devices” from unsecured wi-fi networks without authorisation. The French Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) reportedly confirmed the extent of data collection following its investigation into the incident. According to CNET, a number of current lawsuits are concerned with companies allegedly collecting and using location data.
CNET: Street View cars grabbed locations of phones, PCs (25 July 2011)
(Source: CNET)

Facebook Facial Recognition Concerns Recognised

The Age reports that Facebook has made it easier for users to opt out of a facial recognition feature, after US Attorney General for Connecticut George Jepsen complained that consumers’ rights could be compromised. Privacy advocates had also reportedly expressed dismay that the feature had been rolled out with little notification to users. Since meeting with Mr Jepsen, Facebook has reportedly initiated a campaign to inform users about the feature and how they can opt out. Mr Jepsen reportedly said that Facebook has been “cooperative and diligent”.
The Age: Facebook tackles face-recognition privacy concern (27 July 2011)
(Source: The Age)

Tweets Lead to Broker Suspension by FINRA

The U.S. Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently suspended a broker for messages she sent via the social media website Twitter in which she praised some of her own investments without informing her firm of the messages. In addition to her suspension, which will last one year, the broker was also fined $10,000. According to FINRA, the twitter messages, limited to 140 characters, “failed to disclose material information” regarding the broker’s recommendations. Most notably, she failed to disclose the fact that she had large, personal stakes in the investments she was touting. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also now investigating the broker’s messages.
New York Times: Twitter Messages Land Broker in Trouble (15 July 2011)
(Source: New York Times)