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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FTC probes cryptocurrency exchange operators

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Federal Issues FTC Digital Assets Cryptocurrency Data Breach Enforcement FTC Act Gramm-Leach-Bliley

Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

On August 9, the FTC issued an order denying a petition to quash a civil investigative demand (CID) against the operators of a cryptocurrency exchange regarding allegations of a December 2021 data breach. According to the order, the FTC “is investigating potential law violations arising out of [the company’s] operation and marketing of [the company], and whether Commission action to obtain monetary relief would be in the public interest.” The agency issued a virtually identical CID to the company on May 11 seeking details on what the company disclosed to consumers regarding the security of their crypto assets and how they have handled customer complaints. The FTC noted that investigation includes inquiries regarding the company’s “representations concerning its advertised exchange services; allegations that consumers have been denied access to their accounts; and concerns about the security of customer accounts especially in light of a publicly reported 2021 security breach that resulted in consumer loss of more than $200 million in cryptocurrency.” Among other things, the FTC is seeking to determine if the business practices of the operation in marketing and operating the company “constituted ‘unfair [or] deceptive . . . acts or practices . . . relating to the marketing of goods and services,’ or ‘[m]anipulative [c]onduct,’ ‘on the Internet’ (Resolution No. 2123125); constituted “deceptive or unfair acts or practices related to consumer privacy and/or data security’ in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act (Resolution No. 1823036); or violated the GLB Act, its implementing rules, or Section 5 regarding ‘the privacy or security of consumer [financial] information.”

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