Category Archives: FTC

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FCC Tackles “Slamming and Cramming”

“Slamming and cramming” might sound more appropriate in professional wrestling than telecommunications, but it’s the Federal Communications Commission and not the WWE that’s making moves in this area. On June 7, the Commission approved new rules aimed at stopping both slamming and cramming by telecommunications carriers, which we’ve summarized below. On August 16, these new … Continue Reading

The Department of Justice Has a New Consumer Task Force – What Does It Mean for You?

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – the second-highest-ranking official at the Department of Justice – recently announced the formation of the Task Force on Market Integrity and Consumer Fraud. The announcement came at a widely publicized press conference, a signal that the Task Force ranks high on the list of the Department’s law enforcement priorities. … Continue Reading

Upcoming FTC Hearings Include Several Topics Relating to Consumer Protection

Taking a page from Federal Trade Commission legend (and one of our mentors) Bob Pitofsky, the FTC recently announced that it plans to hold a series of public hearings modeled after the FTC’s 1995 “Global Competition and Innovation Hearings.” New FTC Chair Joe Simons said that the hearings will provide the FTC with an opportunity … Continue Reading

Exciting Questions and Opportunities for Advertising Through Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars have captured the imagination through television and movies (Knight Rider and Herbie the Love Bug, to name a few). Today, with advances in computing and other technologies, a number of technology and automotive companies are testing autonomous vehicles on public roads and expect to deploy such vehicles in the near future. Indeed, the … Continue Reading

The Rise of CGI Influencers

What if the influencer you had been following on Instagram—an influencer whose style choices you admired, and who supported social causes that you believed in—turned out to be…a robot? This is what happened to followers of Lil Miquela, a 19-year old model from California who launched an Instagram account in 2016.  For the past two … Continue Reading

FTC Publishes Guidance on Online Giving Portals

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues its oversight of charitable fundraising conduct. This month, the FTC issued guidance for both donors who donate to charities through online giving portals and businesses that offer such portals. The agency also warned consumers to be wary of potential charity scams in the wake of recent natural disasters that trigger solicitations for money to help … Continue Reading

Qualified Immunity and the FTC: LabMD Loses Its Case Alleging Violation of its Constitutional Right

We blogged recently on the 11th Circuit’s decision that the FTC’s order against LabMD is unenforceable. If you enjoyed that blog, then you’re in luck because we have more LabMD versus FTC content coming your way. In a separate case, LabMD and its chief executive Michael Daugherty sued individual FTC attorneys, arguing that they ramped … Continue Reading

FTC and House Start Working Together to Address CPSC-related Connected Technology Issues – Stakeholders Should Prepare for Future Government-Wide Cooperation

Robust conversations about IoT, smart technology, and product safety continue across the federal government. On May 16, 2018, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a public hearing on the Internet of Things (IoT) and consumer product hazards. (See previous related blog posts here and here about the hearing.) On June 13, the House Energy … Continue Reading

Court to Agency: Is That Your Final Answer on Soundboard Technology?

In a blow to the soundboard industry, the D.C. Circuit recently ruled in Soundboard Association v. FTC, No. 1:17-cv-00150 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 27, 2018) that the Federal Trade Commission’s November 2016 opinion letter, which reclassified soundboard technology as “robocalls” under the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), is not subject to judicial review. We previously blogged about … Continue Reading

New Commission Is in the News

The FTC has been back at full capacity for little more than two weeks but is already making news on the consumer protection front. On the staffing side, the Consumer Protection Bureau is currently being run on an acting basis by long time FTC staffer Reilly Dolan. Numerous media outlets were reporting that Andrew Smith, … Continue Reading

Walking the Line with Influencers: How to Satisfy the FTC without Your Influencers Becoming Employees in California

In light of a new California decision interpreting California’s wage and hour law, brand companies should take a careful look at their influencer compliance programs not only for FTC compliance, but also potential employment law consequences. How a company establishes and maintains influencer compliance can potentially convert the influencer from an independent contractor to an … Continue Reading

New Sheriffs in Town

  In the last week, four new commissioners were sworn in to their role as agency heads at the Federal Trade Commission, giving the FTC a full slate of commissioners for the first time in several years.  The new commissioners – Republicans Noah Phillips and Chairman Joseph Simons; Democrats Rebecca Slaughter and Rohit Chopra – … Continue Reading

This Argument Is No Longer in Service: Did FCC and FTC Drop the Issue of Reassigned Numbers as a Solution to Robocalls?

On March 23, 2018, the FCC and FTC hosted a joint forum to discuss the issue of robocalls. Consisting of three panels and remarks from key leadership of both agencies, the event marked a significant step in agency cooperation to mitigate consumer frustration from unwanted calls. The panels focused on three issues: (1) challenges facing … Continue Reading

It’s a Full Slate for the FTC

It appears increasingly likely that for probably the first time since the FTC was established, we will have five new Commissioners in the same calendar year. Just to quickly recap, the FTC has five seats, only two of which are currently filled. Commissioner McSweeny’s term has already expired, while Acting Chairman Ohlhausen has been nominated … Continue Reading

Is Past Prologue for FTC Jurisdiction?

A recent decision in an antitrust case brought by the FTC in the U.S. District Court for Delaware could significantly limit the FTC’s ability to bring consumer protection cases in federal court and return the FTC to an enforcement model that it largely abandoned in the early 1980’s. In that case, the court held that … Continue Reading

The FTC Formed a Blockchain Working Group (And Maybe That’s A Good Thing)

The FTC just announced that it, too, will join the federal government’s growing crypto/blockchain regulation club, right alongside the ranks of the SEC, CFTC, and Congress. Officially, this means the FTC has now created its own internal “Blockchain Working Group.” Though the FTC has been publishing information about cryptocurrencies since 2014 (see this hilariously-titled and … Continue Reading

FWIW: Millennials More Likely to Be Victims of Fraud

The FTC seeks to combat deceptive practices in the United States generally, but often it pays particularly close attention to the elderly, which it views as a vulnerable demographic. Last year for example, the FTC testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Aging that it’s taking action specifically against those fraudulent schemes that affect the … Continue Reading

FTC Obtains Injunction Halting Alleged Cryptocurrency Pyramid Scheme

It is perhaps not surprising that companies are already trying to make money (allegedly the unlawful way) from cryptocurrencies. Last week the FTC demonstrated that it can keep up with any marketplace trend when it succeeded in obtaining a federal court order to shut down a cryptocurrency-related pyramid scheme. This is the first action brought … Continue Reading

FTC Orders – Doesn’t Warn – Bollman Hat Company to Cease Deceptive “Made in USA” Claims, Licensing “American Made Matters” Seal to Others without Proper Vetting

As we reported a few months ago, the FTC has increased its enforcement of its “Made in USA” requirements – typically through warning letters rather than formal administrative or legal proceedings. This week’s proposed Consent Order against Bollman Hat Company and SaveAnAmericanJob, LLC demonstrates that if companies will not informally agree to corrective action to … Continue Reading

Telemarketing by Charity Fundraisers Remains an FTC Enforcement Priority

The FTC’s Northwest Regional Office has, for decades, led federal law enforcement efforts to investigate and shut down alleged fraud in the charity fundraising industry (state attorneys general are even more active in this space, as we’ve noted in previous writings). While the Northwest Region was somewhat active in the 1990s and early 2000s, its … Continue Reading

FCC Revives Its Own Native Advertising Rule: Sponsorship Identification

The FCC’s Sponsorship Identification Rule is a close, perhaps neglected cousin of the FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements, i.e., its Native Advertising Guide. Nevertheless, the FCC’s latest enforcement action demonstrates how failure to follow the rule can result in penalties far larger than any imposed to date by the FTC. It also … Continue Reading

The Joint (And Several Liability) is Jumpin’

We wrote previously that for payment processors the death of Operation Choke Point was greatly exaggerated.  We also noted that a prior challenge to the FTC’s ability to impose joint and several liability on an executive for his former employer’s actions had failed. A recent appellate victory for the FTC reinforces both these points.  In … Continue Reading
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