Sep 302009
 September 30, 2009  Posted by  Business, Court

Over on Courthouse News,  Tim Hull reports that an advertising firm and Toyota are being sued because an advertising campaign terrorized an email recipient:

A woman says a “terror marketing” campaign that Saatchi & Saatchi created for Toyota made her believe a drunken English soccer hooligan with a pit bull would show up at her home expecting to crash on her couch. She says the defendants sent her a series of anonymous emails in which a fictional man claimed he knew her address and planned to “lay low at your place for a bit. Till it all blows over. Bringing Trigger.”

Amber Duik says she was terrorized by the “nontraditional promotion” called “The Other You.” In her Superior Court complaint, Duik says the anonymous series of emails left her “constantly in tears and shaking and sobbing in emotional distress” during the entire month of April 2008.


Eventually an actor in the “movie” revealed that the entire ordeal was a hoax, and that Duik had been “punked” by Toyota as part of a marketing campaign for its Matrix automobile.

Duik says she was so terrified by the emails that her boyfriend began sleeping with a club and Mace. She says she was convinced that “a violent criminal on the run from the police both in England and the United States” was making his way down the California coast to her home.

Duik seeks $10 million in punitive damages for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive advertising, emotional distress, consumer law violations and other charges.

Sep 302009
 September 30, 2009  Posted by  Business, Court

Kristen J. Mathews writes:

Since when does a legal entity have “privacy” rights?

Since the Third Circuit said so, in its September 22, 2009 decision in AT&T v. Federal Communications Commission (No. 084024).

Most privacy practitioners would not consider a legal entity to have privacy rights. Rather, a legal entity may have trade secrets or contractual confidentiality protections. However, in its novel holding, the Third Circuit found that a corporation (AT&T) was protected by an exemption in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that applies to “unwarranted invasions of personal privacy.”

Read more on Proskauer Rose Privacy Law Blog

Sep 302009
 September 30, 2009  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Online, Youth & Schools

EPIC filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Echometrix, the developers of parental control software that monitors children’s online activity. Echometrix analyzes the information collected from children and sells the data to third parties for market-intelligence research. The EPIC complaint alleges that Echometrix engages in unfair and deceptive trade practices by representing that the software protects children online while simultaneously collecting and disclosing information about children’s online activity. The complaint further alleges that Echometrix’s practices violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting and disclosing information from children under the age of 13. The EPIC complaint asks the FTC to stop these practices, seek compensation for victims, and ensure that Echometrix’s collection and disclosure practices comply with COPPA.


From the complaint:

Echometrix, Inc., formerly SearchHelp Inc., develops software that allegedly provides parents with “real-time online protection of their children.” Echometrix brands include FamilySafe Parental Control products  ( and Sentry Parental Control products ( Echometrix also offers technology to corporations seeking to analyze children’s online behavior. The technology is called PULSE, a software engine that reads and analyzes digital content extracted from online conversations and activity of teenagers and children in real time. The software is available through subscription at Echometrix’s website.


Sentry’s privacy policy is virtually inaccessible – it is displayed only after clicking the SUPPORT heading, then the POLICIES link, and finally PRIVACY POLICY. The privacy policy allows parents to “delete” their child’s account, but admits that all of the child’s information may not be deleted from Sentry’s records. A screenshot of the YOUR ABILITY TO EDIT AND DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT INFORMATION AND PREFERENCES – CHILDREN section of the privacy policy is captured below […]


The practice of surreptitiously collecting sensitive information from children and simultaneously disclosing this information to third parties for marketing purposes is unfair because these claims cause a substantial harm, not outweighed by any countervailing benefits, which consumers cannot reasonably avoid. In Sentry Parental Control’s privacy policy, which is not readily accessible, SearchHelp, Inc. (now Echometrix) claims that information collected from children is not disclosed to third parties. However, Echometrix’s other brand of products, PULSE, boasts of having access to the teenage market in real-time by capturing instant message conversations, chat room conversations, and blog posts.

FamilySafe Parental Control’s website does not have a link to a privacy policy on its homepage, and access to the Sentry Parental Controls’ privacy policy is only achieved through multiple steps. Echometrix’s website provides an incomplete privacy policy, which does not fully disclose how children’s information is used and offers contradictory information as to what kind of information is collected.

The full complaint is available here (pdf).

Echometrix did not reply to e-mail requests for a statement reacting to the complaint by the time of this publication.

Sep 302009
 September 30, 2009  Posted by  Court, Non-U.S., Online

The trial of four Google executives has begun in Milan with an engineer from the search giant giving evidence.

The executives are accused of breaking Italian law in allowing a video of a teenager with Down’s Syndrome to be posted online.

The case, subject to lengthy delays, could have major ramifications for content providers around the globe.

Read more on BBC