Consumer Protection Organization Petitions FTC To Enforce U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework

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On August 14, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) announced that it filed a complaint with the FTC claiming that 30 U.S. companies are compiling, using, and sharing EU consumers’ personal information without their awareness and meaningful consent, in violation the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework. The U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework established a self-certification program that allows a company to collect information from European consumers without strictly following the EU’s more stringent data protection standards, provided the company (i) provides clear notice of their data-collection practices and data uses; and (ii) allows consumers to “opt-out” of data collection practices to which they did not previously agree. According to its press release, the CDD wants the FTC to investigate the companies for “relying on exceedingly brief, vague, or obtuse descriptions of their data collection practices, even though [U.S.-EU] Safe Harbor requires meaningful transparency and candor.” The complaint identifies several broad concerns that the CDD claims illustrate the inadequacy of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, including: (i) the failure of U.S.-EU Safe Harbor declarations and required privacy policies to provide accurate and meaningful information to EU consumers; (ii) a lack of transparency by companies about their data collection; and (iii) the failure of companies to provide meaningful opt-out mechanisms. The FTC has already taken more than a dozen actions this year to enforce the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.


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