The FTC has made it clear over the past year that it is serious about companies’ compliance with the US-EU and US-Swiss safe harbor programs, and has publicly stated that it is randomly reviewing company websites to ensure compliance and requesting information and documents that back-up the self-certification.

On Monday, August 17, the FTC emphasized its point when it issued a press release that it has agreed to settle with thirteen companies over allegations that the companies misled consumers that they were certified members of the safe harbor frameworks. The companies had either let their certifications lapse or had never applied for membership in the programs at all, but had listed the Safe Harbor certification mark on their websites.

Self-certification for the safe harbor frameworks is required on an annual basis, so companies may wish to review their safe harbor certifications now to make sure they are current and re-certify as necessary.