The Federal Trade Commission has taken its concerns about protecting Internet consumers from the growing threat of online fraud to the Hill.
Capitol Hill, that is.
The federal agency addressed Congress Thursday morning to describe what it’s doing to help Web users avoid becoming victims of online scammers.
Maneesha Mithal, the FTC‘s associate director for privacy and identity protection, testified to to a Senate subcommittee about the agency’s efforts, specifically on the issues of privacy, spyware, and data security.
Mithal testified that the agency had obtained financial settlements in 53 data security cases, including settlements with the IT outfits Snapchat, Credit Karma, Fandango, and home security maker TRENDnet, according to the FTC.
The emphasis at today’s hearing was companies operating in the online advertising space. Mithal broached the subject of the FTC’s settlement two years ago with Google. The Mountain View-based titans ponied up $22.5 million in civil penalties for using tracking cookies and targeted ads, which the FTC said violated federal online privacy laws.
According to the FTC:
The testimony also describes the FTC’s cases to combat spyware and other malware. These cases support three core principles: first, that a consumer’s computer belongs to him or her, and it must be the consumer’s choice whether to install software; second, that buried disclosures about material information necessary to correct an otherwise misleading impression are not sufficient in connection with software downloads; and third, that a consumer should be able to disable or uninstall any software they do not want on their computer.
The FTC hammered Snapchat May 8 for bogus claims about its purported disappearing ads and transmitting user locations and collecting address books from users without telling them. Over 4 million Snapchat users saw their phone numbers and users names pilfered during a hack attack. As a penalty, Snapchat must submit to 20 years of oversight from an independent privacy professional.
An FTC spokesperson did not return calls by press time.