November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017

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November 17, 2017

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FTC’s Settlement in Vizio May Provide Hint at Direction of Internet of Things Regulation

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Settlement in FTC v. Vizio, Inc. may signal the direction that agency is heading on Internet of Things (IoT) enforcement. With veteran FTC enforcer Jessica Rich leaving and new appointee Maureen Ohlhausen taking over, Ohlhausen’s separate concurring statement in that matter is insightful.

The settlement took a broad view on the types of data that require protection. While the “Covered Information” included information like personal identifiers, IP address, and geolocation, it also included “Viewing Data,” which is essentially data about the content viewed on a television. Ohlhausen criticized this expansion and the FTC’s foray into this public policy basis for alleging an unfair practice. She notes, “But here, for the first time, the FTC has alleged in a complaint that individualized television viewing activity falls within the definition of sensitive information.” Hinting that this broad view of personal data may not continue, Ohlhausen writes, “There may be good policy reasons to consider such information sensitive…. But, under our statute, we cannot find a practice unfair based primarily on public policy. Instead, we must determine whether the practice causes substantial injury that is not reasonably avoidable by the consumer and is not outweighed by benefits to competition or consumers.” She then promises that “[i]n the coming weeks I will launch an effort to examine this important issue further.”



About this Author

Adrienne Ehrhardt, Michael Best Law Firm, Corporate and Transactional Attorney

Known for giving practical and actionable legal advice, Adrienne counsels clients on the many complex aspects of privacy and data management matters.

Her extensive background includes experience with issues relating to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), as well as privacy programs and cyber security issues.

Prior to joining Michael Best, Adrienne served as the in-house lead attorney in privacy and data protection at CUNA Mutual...

Stephen A. Mason, Michael Best, patent portfolios lawyer, product development attorney

Stephen is a trusted advisor to companies seeking to protect their intellectual property assets. He brings an in-depth knowledge and a track record of success to his work advising startups and established firms regarding their patent portfolios, particularly in the early stages of product development.

Informed by a background in electrical engineering, Stephen has spent more than a decade counseling on patent matters in a range of technologies encompassing:

  • Microprocessor and memory designs

  • Network equipment and software

  • Semiconductors

  • Testing and verification software

  • Databases and storage

  • Mobile computing and sensor systems