Category Archives: FTC

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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

The FTC Sees Red Over 1-800 Contacts’ Advertising Agreements with Competitors

Usually this blog focuses on the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection challenging unfair or deceptive advertising. Not so today. Instead, we write about the Bureau of Competition’s challenge to agreements 1-800 Contacts entered with its competitors concerning how they would advertise. The case provides useful insight into the nuts and bolts of Internet advertising as … Continue Reading

What’s the Federal Trade Commission Been Up to Recently?

A change in administration inevitably raises questions regarding the priorities and direction of federal agencies. To help set the record straight, Lesley Fair, a Senior Attorney with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC or Commission), Bureau of Consumer Protection, reminded us during last week’s NAD Annual Conference that the FTC has kept quite busy over the last … Continue Reading

FTC “Telephonic Fireside Chat” with Chief Technologist Neil Chilson

Neil Chilson filled the position of FTC Chief Technologist in July, succeeding Lorrie Cranor. Mr. Chilson recently discussed the role of Chief Technologist with members of the ABA Antitrust Section Consumer Protection Committee in a “Telephonic Fireside Chat.” In describing his day-to-day, he broke down the role into a vertical dimension and a horizontal dimension. … Continue Reading

Mobile App Settles Charges with FTC that it Broke Pact with Consumers

Last week, in an ironic twist of fate, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged the operators of the Pact Mobile App, which paid consumers for keeping their fitness promises and charged consumers who missed their goals, for failing to honor its promises to consumers. According to the FTC’s complaint, when consumers signed up for the … Continue Reading

Don’t Hide the Ball from Consumers: FTC’s Lenovo Settlement Sheds Light on FTC’s Disagreement Over Its Deceptive Omission Authority

Savvy consumers are generally aware that new computers often include pre-installed software. However, most consumers do not realize that lurking behind their screens is software that computer manufacturers include to pad profit margins. And, because such pre-installed software is often harmless (if obnoxious), it is often called bundled software, bloatware or – the most vulgar … Continue Reading
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