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Watch for Companies Quietly Changing Privacy Policies

holding a smartphone


Happy Friday!


Almost 20 years ago the company behind "Hooked on Phonics" changed their privacy policy to allow sharing of customer data with third parties. However they failed to obtain consent from users, which caused the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to go after them. Nowadays, we pretty much assume companies are sharing our data all the time with advertisers and who knows who. And now that AI has been unleashed, you can bet that it's about to get a whole lot more interesting.


But hopefully there is some hope on the horizon. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Tuesday that it will strictly enforce how artificial intelligence firms and other companies treat their terms of service and will pursue those who “quietly” change them in order to exploit data to enhance their AI tools.


Calling data the “new oil,” a blog post from the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection noted that vast amounts of data are collected by businesses, particularly by AI companies, which the FTC blog post described as possessing a “continuous appetite for more and newer data.”


The Takeaway


While the FTC will be on the lookout for companies that engage in unfair or deceptive practices, it's really up to you and me to keep an eye on the companies we trust to see what they're up to. Here are 2 red flags to look for:


1) We've updated our terms of service. Why? What's been updated? This is pretty common with credit card companies. It's your right to ask for the previous terms of service for comparison. Too long and too much legalese? Use AI against them by feeding both the new and old terms of service into ChatGPT and ask it it "tell me the difference between these 2 terms of service documents as if I were a 7th grader in 300 words or less."


2) We may share your data with third parties... Do you want your shopping habits fed to an AI engine so that your credit card company can figure out what they can more successfully sell you? That's what "third party" language usually means. Surreptitious, retroactive amendments to a terms of service or privacy policy is how they do this. Again, you can use AI against them to find out what this really means.


If you notice these red flags coming for your financial institution, online store, website, medical provider or any other company in whom you've placed your trust, be sure to start asking questions. If they're not to your satisfaction, it may be time to alert the FTC at ReportFraud .ftc . gov. Let's all do our part to help keep each other's private information, private.




PS. If you think this email might be of value to a friend or colleague, feel free to forward it along.


PPS. I get lots of eye rolls on these Friday funnies. Do you have a good one to share? If so, reply and send it on over!


New Friday Funnies


Why doesn't Cookie Monster have good internet privacy?


He always accepts the cookies.



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