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April 12th, 2013
HTC Settles FTC Device Security Charges
In February 2013, HTC America, Inc. ("HTC"), one of America's biggest sellers of mobile devices based on the Android, Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone operating systems, settled Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") charges that millions of its smartphones and tablets had security holes that allowed malicious applications to send text messages, record audio, and even install additional malware onto a consumer's HTC device, without users' knowledge or permission.
In its complaint, the FTC alleged that malware placed on HTC devices could record and transmit information entered into or stored on HTC devices, including financial account numbers and related access codes or personal identification numbers, medical information, photos, a user's geolocation, and the contents of the user's text messages. The complaint also alleged that user manuals for HTC Android-based devices contained deceptive statements, and that the company's Tell HTC application -- anerror-reporting tool that enabled users to report a system crash -- submitted users' location information without their permission or knowledge.
The settlement requires HTC to develop and release patches to fix these vulnerabilities, to establish a program to address security risks that become apparent during the development of HTC devices, and to undergo independent security assessments every other year until 2033. The settlement also prohibits HTC from making any false or misleading statements about the security and privacy of consumers' data on HTC devices.
This settlement comes only ten weeks after the FTC released Mobile App Developers: Start with Security, a brochure on app security for the mobile business ecosystem. The settlement and release of this FTC brochure underscore the importance of having transparent privacy disclosures and secure data environments and devices.
Read full case timeline - "In the Matter of HTC America Inc.".
Read full FTC press release - "Mobile App Developers: Start with Security".
If you have questions about this news, or about any other technology law issues, please contact S. Gregory Boyd at (212) 826 5581 or email@example.com, Hannah Taylor at (212) 705 4849 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Claudine Wilson at (212) 705 4842 or email@example.com, or any other member of the Frankfurt Kurnit Technology, Digital Media and Privacy Group.
Other Technology Law Alerts
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No Harm, No Foul: Court Dismisses Biometric Data Privacy Class Action Against NBA 2K Games
Biometric data — from, e.g., retina, face and fingerprint scans — plays a big role in the current wave of new technology services. For example, biometrics provide security features for financial and healthcare products. But companies using or thinking of using biometric data have to comply with myriad privacy and data security laws and regulations, or face potential enforcement action and litigation.
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