On April 16, 2020, the European Commission (EC) published guidance (guidance) regarding mobile applications developed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19 mobile apps). As previously mentioned in our blog posts, the guidance follows the EC recommendation last week on the same topic, and takes into account a prior consultation with the European Data Protection Board (EDPB).

The guidance expands on the legal bases for data processing identified in the EC’s consultation with the EDPB and highlights key data protection requirements for certain COVID-19 mobile apps.
Continue Reading The European Commission Publishes Guidance on COVID-19 Mobile Apps

On May 22, 2019, a federal district court largely denied a facial challenge by Disney, Viacom, and several online advertising networks to claims alleging these defendants violated the privacy rights of children by collecting data through online gaming apps.

In McDonald v. Kiloo APS,[1] the defendants consisted of two groups: the developers who created the gaming apps and made them available for download, and the mobile advertising and app monetization companies who provided software code inserted into the gaming apps to collect user data for advertising purposes. The defendants allegedly collected a variety of data from the children’s devices without appropriate consent, including the IP address; the specific device name; IDs for Apple and Android devices; the device’s International Mobile Equipment Identity; the timestamp at which an advertising event was recorded; and device fingerprint data (the user’s language, time zone, country, and mobile network).Continue Reading Federal Court Allows Children’s Online Privacy Claims Against Disney, Viacom, and Online Ad Networks That Collected Data from Gaming Apps to Go Forward

California Signs the First IoT Security Bill into Law, and the FTC Submits Comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Regarding the IoT

California’s New IoT Law

On September 28, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a cybersecurity bill governing Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the first law of its kind in the nation. SB 327 requires manufacturers of internet-connected, or “smart” devices, to ensure the devices have “reasonable” security features by January 1, 2020.

The law applies to any “device, or other physical object that is capable of connecting to the Internet, directly or indirectly, and that is assigned an Internet Protocol address or Bluetooth address.” This definition is broad and includes not only smart TVs, smart speakers, and other smart home devices, but also computers (laptops and desktops), connected cars, smartphones, smartwatches, and many other modern electronics.

The law does not contemplate further rulemaking, and it is unclear whether revisions to the law will be sought.
Continue Reading Key Developments in Internet of Things Law

In February 2018, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report that explores the complexities of the mobile ecosystem and makes recommendations for industry to improve the mobile security update process for consumers.

The report is part of the FTC’s effort to address concerns that mobile devices are not receiving the operating system patches they need to defend against attacks. It begins by highlighting that even though three-quarters of Americans own smartphones and increasingly rely on them to store and transfer sensitive information, many devices are not receiving the updates they need to protect against critical security vulnerabilities. As a result, many consumers’ devices are vulnerable to malicious software attacks like spyware, phishing, and ransomware, all of which put consumers at risk of identity theft, fraudulent charges, and similar financial or other risk. As characterized by former Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Tom Pahl, “[c]onsumers use their mobile devices for a wide range of activities and want to have confidence that when they use them they will be secure,” but “significant differences in how the industry deploys security updates” must be addressed to “make it easier to ensure their devices are secure.”1Continue Reading New FTC Report Recommends Steps to Improve Mobile Security Updates

 On June 22, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has settled charges that InMobi, a Singapore-based mobile advertising company, deceptively tracked the locations of hundreds of millions of consumers, including children, to
Continue Reading WSGR Alert: FTC Brings First Privacy Enforcement Action Against a Mobile Ad Network

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits companies from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 without first providing notice to parents and obtaining their verifiable consent. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent settlements with Yelp and TinyCo serve as a reminder to mobile app developers that the failure to consider COPPA when developing and testing mobile apps can have serious consequences.
Continue Reading COPPA Looms Large for Mobile Apps

On July 28, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a staff report on “mobile cramming”—the unlawful practice of placing unauthorized third-party charges on mobile phone accounts. The report recommended five best practices primarily directed to mobile carriers but at times also directed to merchants and billing intermediaries. This report follows a number of FTC enforcement actions to combat mobile cramming, as well as a May 2013 mobile cramming roundtable convened by the FTC and attended by industry participants, consumer advocates, and regulators. Following the roundtable, the four largest mobile carriers said that they would discontinue most “Premium SMS” billing, in which a consumer purportedly authorizes a third-party charge by texting a five or six-digit number. Nonetheless, the report emphasized that the consumer protection principles embodied in its recommendations apply to any form of carrier billing (i.e., charging a good or service directly to a mobile phone account), including direct carrier billing.
Continue Reading FTC Issues Carrier Billing Recommendations to Protect Consumers Against Mobile Cramming