Consumer Protection

Joint Antitrust Enforcement Policy for Health Care Providers

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has made available the DoJ and Federal Trade Commission’s joint Statement of Antitrust Enforcement Policy Regarding Accountable Care Organizations [ACOs] Participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (undated). The final policy statement provides “guidance [to] help health care providers form procompetitive ACOs that benefit both Medicare beneficiaries and patients with private health insurance while protecting health care consumers from higher prices and lower quality [medical services]“.
DoJ’s media release (20 October 2011)
(Source: DoJ)

SEC Commissioner’s Speech

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has made available Protecting the Financial System and Aligning the Interests of Banks and their Customers (12 October 2011), a speech delivered by SEC commissioner Luis Aguilar.
(Source: SEC)

Fine May Follow Facebook Data Protection Failures

The Guardian reports that Facebook is facing allegations that it has breached European data protection laws after Austrian law student Max Schrems “discovered the social networking site held 1,200 pages of personal data about him, much of which he had deleted”. Mr Schrems’ discovery reportedly precipitated a formal complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who is shortly to commence an audit of the site’s data protection practices. According to The Guardian, if the commissioner decides to prosecute, Facebook could face a penalty of €100,000.

Mr Schrems reportedly expressed concern at the retention of ostensibly deleted data, observing that harm could occur if Facebook’s servers are compromised internally or by hackers.
The Guardian: Facebook could face €100,000 fine for holding data that users have deleted (20 October 2011)
(Source: The Guardian)

Senate Urged to Pass Bill
Asia Pacific

 The Manila Times reports that the Philippines House of Representatives deputy majority leader Roman Romulo has urged his Senate counterparts to pass Senate Bill No. 2965: Data Privacy Act of 2011, in the wake of concerns that Stradcom Corporation (Stradcom) misused electronic files from the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Stradcom is reportedly alleged to have granted third parties access to the LTO database of all driver’s licences and vehicle registrations, without the consent of citizens or the government. Whilst the government is reportedly investigating whether Stradcom has breached contractual terms, the Bill would aim to prevent similar breaches by protecting all personal data held in information systems.
The Manila Times: Solon cites Stradcom debacle, asks Senate to pass data privacy bill (19 October 2011)
(Source: The Manila Times; Senate of the Philippines)

Lawyer’s Debt Collection Actions Declared Impermissible
Asia Pacific

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it has successfully taken legal action against a law firm which engaged in deceptive and misleading conduct. The Federal Court found that debt collection notices issued by Goddard Elliot Lawyers principal and registered owner Pippa Sampson made a number of false claims, including that the consequences of non-compliance were much more serious than they in fact were, that liability for legal costs of enforcement would fall with the debtor, and that a judgment could be made without a formal court order.

The ACCC stated that “[t]he scale and flagrant nature of this conduct” was of “great concern” as the law firm issued almost 250,000 debt collection notices on behalf of video rental stores in the twelve months prior to the commencement of legal proceedings. The Federal Court ordered Ms Sampson to desist from issuing such notices, pay AU$30,000 towards the ACCC’s legal costs, publish corrective notices and ensure that all staff receive appropriate training to prevent similar incidents in the future.
ACCC’s media release (19 October 2011)
(Source: ACCC)