TRUSTe To Pay $200K Fine In Settlement With FTC Over Allegations It Deceived Consumers

TrusteIn this day and age where a new security breach is announced every other week, some consumers may be reassured that their web surfing is secure after seeing a TRUSTe certificate plastered on the bottom of a web page. But we’re finding out that’s not always the case, as the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with TRUSTe over allegations it deceived consumers about its recertification program for companies’ privacy practices.

The FTC announced Monday that TRUSTe, Inc. must pay a $200,000 fine for allegedly failing to follow through with its promise to consumers that businesses’ privacy practices are in compliance with certain privacy standards like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework.

According to the FTC complaint [PDF], from 2006 to January 2013, TRUSTe failed to conduct annual recertifications of companies holding TRUSTe privacy seals in over 1,000 incidences, despite providing information on its website that companies holding TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seals receive recertification every year.

Additionally, the FTC alleges that since TRUSTe became a for-profit company in 2008, it has failed to require companies using TRUSTe seals to update references to the organization’s status change.

Under the proposed settlement, TRUSTe must pay a $200,000 fine to the FTC.

The company is prohibited from making misrepresentations about its certification process or timeline and is barred from misrepresenting its corporate status or whether an entity participates in its program.

TRUSTe must also maintain comprehensive records of its COPPA-related actives and provide detailed information about those activities to the FTC.

TRUSTe Settles FTC Charges it Deceived Consumers Through Its Privacy Seal Program [FTC]

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