Federal Trade Commission

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 to engage in “self-examination and critical thinking” to ensure that the agency can keep pace with changes in the economy. Chairman Simons also recently told reporters that regardless of what the hearings may demonstrate, “Just in terms of priorities: our mantra is vigorous enforcement. That is what I did the last time I was here in the Bureau of Competition, and that is what I expect to do now not only in competition but also in consumer protection.”

Public comments may be submitted on any of the proposed topics until August 20 with hearings expected to take place in the fall and winter. Most of the topics are of more relevance to the Commission’s competition mission, but a few also relate to consumer protection. For example, the Commission is inviting comments on the state of consumer protection law and enforcement generally as well as consumer protection issues specific to the communications, information and media technology fields. Comments are also invited on the Commission’s investigation, enforcement and remedial processes as well as possible unfair or deceptive conduct in markets that feature “platform businesses.” Not surprisingly there are also a number of topics centered around data security including the extent of the Commission’s remedial authority.


Continue Reading Upcoming FTC Hearings Include Several Topics Relating to Consumer Protection

Few, if any, of us would want to be remembered for the worst thing we’ve done in our life.  Thankfully, for most of us that memory is likely not a very public one.  However, in this digital age, more and more of what we do gets recorded and posted on the world wide web, which, unlike your company, has no document retention policy.

As a result, the web can be unforgiving.  A top court in the EU has now held that individuals have the right to ask search engines to stop linking to information if the information is irrelevant or outdated.

(The individual in the case was complaining about 16 year old news articles reporting a sale of his property to pay debts)

So why are we posting this in an advertising blog? 
Continue Reading Is There a Right To Be Forgotten?

Let it Go - Best song from FrozenThere aren’t too many things worse than showing up at the office in the morning and realizing that the FTC has gotten a temporary restraining order against your company and frozen your assets.

While most FTC investigations don’t occur in such dramatic fashion, occasionally some do and the consequences are often dire. This is exactly what happened to several companies and individual defendants in a case filed by the FTC in Utah last month.  In that case, the FTC alleged a tangled web of purported misrepresentations involving a training/business education company and several of its suppliers. The federal court granted the FTC’s request for a temporary restraining order as well as imposing an asset freeze that froze not only those assets directly traceable to the businesses that were the subject of the complaint but also assets from unrelated businesses and assets of the named individuals. Under the original order, the individuals had no access to any funds, including funds that might be needed to buy food or fuel, pay legal fees, or pay utility bills nor did the businesses have access to funds needed to maintain their operations. Since the FTC routinely argues that assets other than those directly traceable to the alleged unlawful activity are fair game in satisfying any consumer redress requirement, the FTC’s request in this regard is hardly surprising.


Continue Reading Let It Go – Best Song from Frozen and What Judge Orders About Some Frozen Assets

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced that it intends to begin review of, and solicit comments on the Telemarketing Sales Rule (“TSR”).  The opportunity to provide comments will be a significant opportunity for marketers to weigh-in on one of the FTC’s main regulatory and enforcement tools.

Despite its focus on telemarketing practices, the TSR’s breadth and impact goes far beyond merely the telephone and the well-known Do Not Call Registry.  The TSR is one of the few methods the FTC can efficiently (although sometimes controversially) adopt rules prohibiting deceptive or abusive practices.  And, it’s the TSR’s broad scope of coverage that has made it a popular enforcement vehicle for the FTC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), and state Attorneys General.

Since the TSR was promulgated it has undergone several significant expansions, and at the same time the marketplace for telemarketing has changed in significant ways that impact consumers and marketers. The TSR gives effect to the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (the “Telemarketing Act”) that was signed into law in 1994. The Telemarketing Act directed the FTC to adopt a rule prohibiting deceptive or abusive practices in telemarketing and specified, among other things, certain acts or practices that should be addressed, and additional practices if found deceptive or abusive. Pursuant to its authority under the Telemarketing Act, the FTC promulgated the TSR in August 1995, and has subsequently amended the TSR on three occasions, in 2003, 2008, and in 2010. 
Continue Reading On Deck, Telemarketing Sales Rule Regulatory Review