In a landmark decision, an administrative law judge dismissed the FTC’s long-running data security lawsuit against Atlanta-based cancer screening laboratory, LabMD Inc., following an alleged data breach. Chief Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell (the “ALJ”) ruled in his Initial Decision that the FTC had failed to prove that the laboratory’s alleged conduct harmed, or could potentially harm, consumers.
Continue Reading ALJ Dismisses FTC’s Data Security Suit Against LabMD for Failure to Prove ‘Substantial Injury’ to Consumers

On August 24, 2015, the Third Circuit, in a highly anticipated ruling, upheld a 2014 New Jersey District Court decision that the FTC has authority under section 5 of the FTC Act to regulate “unfair” data security practices without engaging in formal rulemaking.  As we have previously discussed, the implications of the lower court ruling, and now this ratification by the Third Circuit, are far-reaching.

After oral argument in March 2015, it appeared that the Third Circuit might be questioning just how far the FTC’s unfairness authority extends.  One of Wyndham’s arguments, articulated in its motion to dismiss that was in front of District Judge Esther Salas, was that the Congress never intended to allow the FTC to use the unfairness prong of its authority to reach negligent behavior that was not additionally fraudulent.  Judge Salas disagreed with that argument, noting during oral arguments that if Congress had not intended the FTC to wield such power, Congress would have acted years ago when it saw the FTC overstepping its authority.  During oral arguments in front of the Third Circuit, Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro seemed to back Wyndham’s argument, stating that the FTC was meant to use its authority to pursue routine fraud cases, and not those involving the outer limits of consumer harm.  The decision, though, makes clear that the Third Circuit does not believe that the FTC has overstepped its authority in its regulation of unfair data security practices.
Continue Reading Third Circuit Upholds FTC’s Authority in Wyndham Case