Take a break from the FTC drama | Baker

The last Federal Trade Commission (FTC) public meeting was notable for what did not happen – there were not 3 to 2 votes taken on strong objections from Republican commissioners. With the departure of former commissioner Rohit Chopra as head of CFPB, for at least the next few weeks – or, more likely, months – we are in 2-2 territory at the agency. Until, of course, the Senate acts on the appointment of Alvaro Bedoya, the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law. (Note: His hearing took place earlier this week.) So let’s dive into a relatively quiet Commission meeting.

For a radical change of pace, the Commission’s latest public meeting featured the consumer feedback section from the get-go, and we heard 15 different consumers raise issues ranging from supply chain challenges to demand for study from franchise issues to surveillance marketing issues. President Lina Khan kicked off this discussion by saying that the FTC is making sure comments are heard and incorporated into the agency’s work on consumer protection and competition. This makes sense to me – but I continue to wonder how the agency will achieve it, given the breadth, diversity and importance of the issues raised in this public comment section of Commission meetings. (By the way, the FTC press service manager does such a good job of enforcing the two-minute speaking time that I can petition her to take responsibility for the Oscar deadlines.)

So for the (mostly) consumer protection part of the show, it was an interesting topic but not particularly controversial. FTC staff discussed criminal referrals the two offices make to federal and state criminal authorities. (The FTC has only civil law enforcement power, but many practices that violate FTC laws can also violate criminal laws.) This is an important objective of the mission of the FTC. Commission and that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. And the numbers are impressive or terrifying, depending on your perspective. Over the past five years, FTC staff have provided criminal law enforcement officials with information that prosecutors use to indict 228 new defendants, including 173 serving prison terms. While the criminal focus tends to be on the more egregious fraudsters that FTC watchers often see, FTC staff also discussed the FTC’s criminal cooperation with some large well-known companies, and indeed, the press release announcing the new policy statement noted an “FTC policy statement to hold companies and their executives accountable for crimes the agency has uncovered.”

Bottom line: Criminal referrals will remain a high priority for the FTC, and the public statement on the matter is not a real change from what the agency has been doing for many years now.

Next on the agenda was a discussion of a potential 6 (b) study on supply chain disruption issues. Because this blog focuses on advertising matters, I’ll spare you the details of the competitive supply chain discussion – but suffice it to say that the Commission seems to unanimously agree on the importance of the question and the value of an FTC study on the subject. The vote itself was postponed for a week in order to get more advice from the agency’s experts. And if you’re wondering what a 6 (b) study is and why the weird name, well, 6 (b) is just the provision in the FTC statute that gives it the power to get information from entities. external and compile this information in anonymized files. reports to the public. And those studies will almost always cover nine or fewer topics, given the challenges of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Meeting adjourned.

About Thomas Brown

Check Also

Why is the internet so obsessed with the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard lawsuit?

#AmberHeardIsAnAbuser, #JohnnyDeppDeservesJustice, #JohnnyDeppIsInnocent, #AmberTurd – these are just some of the hashtags that have been …