From the ABA Antitrust Section bi-annual Consumer Protection Conference in Atlanta, Acting FTC Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen made her first keynote address in her newly elevated roll. To the backdrop of playful beluga whales in the ballroom of the Atlanta Aquarium, she outlined three consumer protection priorities she will put in force during her time in the driver’s seat. All will likely be welcome news to our readers and some may even jump and twist for joy like these guys:
- Focus on Fraud: She intends to refocus the Consumer Protection Bureau on bread and butter fraud.
- Focus on proven clear consumer harm: As we blogged about recently, Chairman Ohlhausen has strong views, with which we are in violent agreement, that the FTC has become too aggressive in the magnitude of redress it seeks and level of substantiation it requires. She is in favor of limiting redress to situations of hard core fraud and not in cases where the issue relates to the quantity and quality of support for advertising claims. She intends to move the redress discussion away from revenue and to demonstrable consumer harm.
- Focus on transparency and business education: Chairman Ohlhausen will seek to reduce unnecessary regulation, but also increase use of alternative tools the FTC has such as business education. She noted that in the privacy arena, companies read the headlines, complaints, and orders involving practices that allegedly violated the law, but do not have insight into the practices of the many companies which were investigated, but those investigations did not merit enforcement. She wants to provide more transparency into what companies should be doing rather than only providing information as to what companies should not be doing and intends to release more information about investigations that have been closed with no enforcement.