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The following news feed provides an overview of the current activities and news from APPA members.

The articles on this page are updated regularly from members’ news and media pages. If you have any questions or concerns about the content contained in the articles, please contact the respective member. You can locate members’ details underneath each article or on our Contact us page.

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FTC Announces Agenda for May Forum on Small Business Financing

The Federal Trade Commission has released the agenda for its May 8 event, Strictly Business: An FTC Forum on Small Business Financing. The forum will explore trends and consumer protection issues in the small business financing marketplace, including the recent proliferation of online loans and alternative financing products.

Commissioner Rohit Chopra will give opening remarks at the forum, followed by three panel discussions. The first panel will provide an overview of the small business financing marketplace. The second panel will examine merchant cash advances. The last panel will explore consumer protection risks, applicable laws, and efforts to better protect consumers. Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, will deliver closing remarks.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Constitution Center, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, D.C. The event will be webcast live. A webcast link will be posted on the FTC homepage and on the event page on the day of the event.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Federal Trade Commission, United States
Source: Press Release Feed
22 Apr 2019, 10:00pm AEST

Privacy in the news (12-18 April 2019)

Welcome to our latest weekly round-up of privacy stories.

HTM-hell: Cyber-security threats on the rise

The number of cyber-security incidents reported in New Zealand last year more than tripled from those reported in 2017, with phishing and credential harvesting topping the list of breaches. The incidents were reported to CERT, or the Computer Emergency Response Team. Read more here.

All records erased, US doctor's office closes after ransomware attack

A computer virus recently injected itself into the electronic medical record system of a Michigan medical clinic and ruined the business. The two-doctor practice has apparently become the first health care provider in the United States to shut its doors for good because of a ransomware attack. Read more here.

Microsoft Outlook breach widens in scope, impacting MSN and Hotmail - report

A recently-disclosed Microsoft email-platform breach is reportedly much worse than previously thought, now impacting a large number of Outlook accounts as well as MSN and Hotmail email accounts. Read more here.

How to make your Amazon Echo and Google and Google Home as private as possible

If you use a smart speaker, you know the conveniences and delights that make it more than just a glorified paper weight. But, admit it, you've probably given it some privacy side-eye from time to time. Here's how to tighten the reins on what Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri can hear, when, and how it gets used. Read more here.

Amazon staff listen to customers' Alexa recordings - report

When Amazon customers speak to Alexa, the company’s AI-powered voice assistant, they may be heard by more people than they expect, according to a new report. Read more here.

We built an ‘unbelievable’ (but legal) facial recognition machine

To demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge, The New York Times collected public images of people who worked near a public park and ran one day of footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. Read more here.

Image credit: Foolish guillemot via John James Audubon's Birds of America

Office of the Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand
Source: Blog
18 Apr 2019, 1:05pm AEST

Working outside the office

We see it everywhere – people on buses working on their laptops, people sitting poolside reading personnel files – and we wonder if these conscientious people are aware that the information can be seen easily by those around them.

Two recently observed cases highlight how we all need to be careful when working in public places because it’s often easy for others to see what you’re doing, especially when jammed together on a crowded Wellington bus or on a flight to Auckland.

One colleague on her morning bus ride was surprised to see a young man next to her use his laptop to write a detailed work email in easy view of other commuters. Perhaps the information wasn’t sensitive, but the point is that it might have been.

In another case, an enquirer messaged us because the person sitting next to her on the benches at a public pool appeared to be going through a pile of personnel documents taken out of a government office. While there was no way of telling if these documents were about him (which he is entitled to read whenever and wherever he wants) or if he was an employee working with other people’s information as he sat through his daughter’s swimming lesson, there is a lesson to be learned.

Use discretion

In an enclosed public space, if you can read the information, then there’s a high likelihood that those around you can also. It is said discretion is the better part of valour. While you might not think that working with personal information in public is inappropriate, it might be contrary to your workplace’s confidentiality and security policies.

Working in public can also give rise to other kinds of data breaches, especially if the information is hard copy e.g. forgetting a folder on the bus or leaving documents in a bag in a car, which is then broken into. These are typical data breaches that have been reported to us and should be avoided. It would pay to wisely choose the type of work that’s done in public (the less sensitive kind).

Commuter research

Working outside the office can be a hard impulse to resist, especially if hours are spent commuting to and from work. Here’s a story from Britain about research into how much time commuters spend working while travelling.

The researcher, Dr Juliet Jain, told the BBC that smartphones and mobile internet access was causing a "blurring of boundaries" between work and home - and nowhere was this was more evident than on the daily commute.  

The British study found that 54 percent of commuters surveyed were using British Rail’s wi-fi to send work emails, something which raises other privacy concerns, mainly about the security of the network and the information travelling through it.

Hacking threat

The same reasons that make free public wi-fi attractive users also make them desirable for hackers. The biggest threat is when a hacker sets themselves up between a user and the connection point. The user would then be sending their information to the hacker who then relays it on while getting access to the information that’s being sent out.

As discussed in this Kaspersky article, there are technical solutions to prevent the loss of information in this way - such as the use of a VPN.

But usually people seeking to get on top of their workloads aren’t thinking about the risk of a data breach as they email or browse work files on the plane, train, bus or in other public places. They are just thinking of saving time. That risk is something that workplaces and employees need to develop a greater awareness about as we drift into that grey area between home and work.

Image credit: Commuting by Pinelife (via Flickr)

Office of the Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand
Source: Blog
18 Apr 2019, 7:33am AEST

FTC Approves Final Consents Settling Charges that Hockey Puck Seller, Companies Selling Recreational and Outdoor Equipment Made False ‘Made in USA’ Claims

Following public comment periods, the Federal Trade Commission has approved final consent orders in two cases in which the agency alleged that companies falsely claimed their products were made in the United States.

Patriot Puck: First announced in September 2018, the FTC’s complaint against four related Farmingdale, New York-based companies doing business as Patriot Puck alleged that the companies made false claims that their hockey pucks were all or virtually all made in the United States. According to the complaint, which names George Statler III as an officer of all the companies, Patriot Puck’s claims in its advertising, packaging, and promotional materials included “Made in America,” “Proudly Made in the USA,” “100% American Made!” and “The only American Made Hockey Puck!”

Sandpiper, PiperGear: First announced in September 2018, the FTC’s complaint against California companies Sandpiper of California, Inc. and PiperGear USA, Inc. alleged that the companies claimed in advertisements, product labels, and promotional materials, and on company websites and social media, that their backpacks, travel bags, wallets, and other products were all or virtually all made in the United States.

But according to the complaint, more than 95 percent of Sandpiper’s products were imported as finished goods, and approximately 80 percent of PiperGear’s products either were imported as finished goods, or contained significant imported components. And in some wallets imported as finished goods, the companies hid truthful country-of-origin information on the back of tags, and inserted cards that prominently displayed false U.S.-origin claims, the complaint alleged.

Under the terms of the final orders, Statler and the four Patriot Puck companies, as well as Sandpiper and PiperGear, are prohibited from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for their products, unless they can show that the products’ final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place in the United States, and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.

Under the orders, any qualified Made in USA claim must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients, and/or processing. To claim that a product is assembled in the United States, the respondents in both cases must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and United States assembly operations are substantial.

The orders also prohibit the respondents from making untrue, misleading, or unsubstantiated country-of-origin claims in their marketing materials about any product or service.

The Commission has an Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims, and other business guidance on how companies can comply with the “Made in the USA” standard. The FTC’s Made in the USA page features cases, instructive closing letters, and the brochure Complying with the Made in USA Standard, which answers many of the questions companies ask.

The Commission voted 3-2 to approve the final orders in both of these cases. Chairman Joseph J. Simons issued a concurring statement. Commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter voted no. Commissioner Chopra issued a dissenting statement on Patriot Puck, and another on Sandpiper, PiperGear. Commissioner Slaughter issued a dissenting statement. (FTC File Nos. 182 3113 (Patriot Puck) and 182 3095 (Sandpiper, PiperGear)); the staff contact is Julia Solomon Ensor, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2377.)

Federal Trade Commission, United States
Source: Press Release Feed
17 Apr 2019, 10:00pm AEST

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner and award-winning UK journalist to headline free event about Brexit, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC is pleased to co-sponsor an evening with award-winning UK reporter Carole Cadwalladr and BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy: Brexit, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica: The reporting and investigation of a scandal. When: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 Time: 6:00pm to 7:30pm Where: Fraser Building, Room 159, University of Victoria

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, British Columbia
Source: OIPC News and Events
17 Apr 2019, 6:00am AEST

FTC Returns More than $1 Million to Victims of Bobby J. Robinson’s Work-at-Home Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission is mailing checks totaling nearly $1.1 million to 87,256 consumers who paid for work-at-home opportunities based on the allegedly deceptive advertising practices of Bob Robinson, LLC and other related defendants. The defendants operated under various brand names, including Work At Home EDU, Work At Home Program, Work At Home Ecademy, Work At Home University, Work At Home Revenue, and Work at Home Institute.

The refunds stem from an FTC settlement in which the defendants used online “native” advertising—promotional content that resembles the non-advertising material beside it—to reach consumers who were researching work-at-home opportunities on the internet. The defendants routinely claimed people could earn “hundreds of dollars per hour from home, without any special skills or experience.” The FTC alleged the defendants failed to make certain required disclosures to help consumers evaluate the business opportunity, and made false and unsubstantiated earnings claims.

Consumers who have questions about the refunds should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Analytics LLC, at 844-836-7130. Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days, as indicated on the check. The FTC never requires people to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check.

FTC law enforcement actions led to more than $2.3 billion in refunds for consumers in a one-year period between July 2017 and June 2018. To learn more about the FTC’s refund program, visit www.ftc.gov/refunds.

The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

Federal Trade Commission, United States
Source: Press Release Feed
16 Apr 2019, 10:00pm AEST

Privacy in the news (5-11 April 2019)

Welcome to our latest weekly round-up of privacy stories.

Privacy Bill update: Harsher penalties in the wake of Christchurch attacks?

The Justice Select Committee recently recommended changes to the Privacy Bill. But are further changes possible given the change in public sentiment towards Big Tech and the ongoing debate about harsher penalties in line with global privacy law reform? Read more here.

PM wants global action against social media giants

As Australia and the UK push ahead with strict new laws for social media companies, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants them all to work together. Ms Ardern was asked this week about her reaction to Britain proposing an independent watchdog that would create a "code of practice" for the technology companies. Read more here.

UK to get 'toughest internet laws in world' as its govt backs duty of care

Britain will have the toughest internet laws in the world, British ministers pledged this week. The government has unveiled its White Paper spelling out plans for a duty of care enforced by a new independent regulator. Read more here.

Why a New Zealand official insists that Facebook can’t be trusted

US National Public Radio presenter Rachel Martin talks to Privacy Commissioner John Edwards, who criticised Facebook after last month's attacks on two mosques in Christchurch were live-streamed on the social media platform. Read the transcript or listen to the interview on NPR’s Morning Edition programme.

Is your pregnancy app sharing your intimate data with your boss?

As apps to help mothers monitor their health proliferate in the United States, employers and insurers pay to keep tabs on the vast and valuable data. Read more here.

Smart home cameras bring facial recognition ethics to your front door

Facial recognition isn't a futuristic dream, it's already here in a big way. It's in your hand when you use Apple's FaceID to unlock your iPhone, it's in the airport when you smile to a camera to board your flight and thanks to a growing number of smart home products, it can even be in your home. Read more here.

Image credit: Buffel-headed duck via John James Audubon's Birds of America. 

Office of the Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand
Source: Blog
12 Apr 2019, 2:24pm AEST

Statement from BC Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding recent BC Pension Corporation privacy breach

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy issued the following statement in response to a privacy breach involving the BC Pension Corporation: "The recent breach of personal information at BC Pension Corporation clearly demonstrates why British Columbia requires mandatory breach notification."

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, British Columbia
Source: OIPC News and Events
6 Apr 2019, 7:00am AEDT

Commissioner recognizes the passing of former Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Paul D.K. Fraser, Q.C.

Michael McEvoy, Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, acknowledges with sadness the passing of Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul D.K. Fraser, Q.C. Mr. Fraser served as Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner in 2010. He passed away on Friday, March 29, 2019.

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, British Columbia
Source: OIPC News and Events
3 Apr 2019, 7:00am AEDT

Sharing your My Health Record is your choice

On their next visit to a doctor or healthcare professional, many Australians will activate their new My Health Record.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Source: News - OAIC
29 Mar 2019, 5:48am AEDT

Anniversary of Notifiable Data Breaches scheme

One year on from its introduction in February 2018, the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme is driving increased awareness and action on personal information security, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said today.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Source: News - OAIC
22 Feb 2019, 12:25am AEDT

How secure is your dating profile?

Love may be a game of chance, but you shouldn’t gamble with your personal information. 

Keep your dating profile secure with these tips to protect your personal information, and stop hackers from making you unlucky in love.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Source: News - OAIC
13 Feb 2019, 11:43pm AEDT