This week the Federal Trade Commission will have a banquet and symposium celebrating its 100th anniversary (with more than 20 past and current FTC officials). The FTC Act, which gave the agency the power to regulate “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” was broadly written to permit it to adapt to the digital age.
Going into their centennial celebration, the FTC announced several major enforcement actions including:
- an action against AT&T for marketing “unlimited” smartphone data plans, but then restricting the data speed of customers who use more than a few gigabytes of data in a billing cycle;
- using the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act to go after an online dating site using fake profiles;
- actions against Fandango and Credit Karma for inadequate security in mobile apps;
- actions over text messaging spam; and
- actions against tech support and/or credit card processing scams.
In addition, recent initiatives of the FTC include:
- Operation Full Disclosure which involved sending warning letters to :”more than 60 companies – including 20 of the 100 largest advertisers in the country – that failed to make adequate disclosures in their television and print ads.”
- Assessing the implications of Big Data, most recently via a workshop “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion” held in September and which likely will generate a report and recommendation early 2015;
The inadequacy of disclosures in mobile shopping apps (see below); and
- Concerns about the blurring between native search results and paid advertising.