The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced this week that it sent more than 90 letters to social media influencers and advertisers, reiterating the need for influencers to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose their relationships with brands in social media posts that promote or endorse branded products. The FTC reviewed the Instagram posts of various unnamed celebrities, … Continue Reading
Colby Fox and his companies Tachht, Inc. and Teqqi, LLC recently settled a case with the Federal Trade Commission over an email marketing scheme and claims regarding the companies’ diet pills. According to the FTC, which filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, the defendants … Continue Reading
Upromise found itself in front of the Federal Trade Commission answering very tough questions earlier this month. The inquiry was related to a 2012 order requiring that Upromise include disclosures about data collection practices and conduct third-party assessments about Upromise’s data security safeguards. The FTC alleged that Upromise failed to comply with the terms of … Continue Reading
The advocacy group Cause of Action has stepped in to help defend electronics maker D-Link in a suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission over the company’s purportedly insufficient protection of customers’ privacy. The FTC is targeting D-Link for making representations that its products, including wireless routers and Internet protocol cameras, feature strong security, even … Continue Reading
Almost 350,000 people who helped run Herbalife businesses are receiving checks from the Federal Trade Commission to compensate them for money lost due to the company’s deceptive earnings claims. Specifically, Herbalife was claiming that participants could expect to quit their jobs, earn thousands of dollars a month, and make a career-level income or get rich. … Continue Reading
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) settled with online dating website AshleyMadison.com for $1.6 million stemming from FTC and state actions brought against the company as a result of a July 2015 data breach that exposed the profile and account information of approximately 36 million users. In addition to the settlement, AshleyMadison.com must also implement a … Continue Reading
Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) settled with Vemma Nutrition Company for allegedly engaging in deceptive business practices and sales tactics akin to a pyramid scheme. According to the FTC, the company made deceptive income claims to its distributors and unsubstantiated health claims about its products, specifically representing that consumer demand for the products … Continue Reading
The Federal Trade Commission has approved a final Decision and Order settling a dispute with pet food producer Mars Petcare US, Inc. (“Mars”) related to advertisements for Mars’ Eukanuba brand dog food. The settlement arose from an FTC investigation into a number of television, print, and internet advertisements released by Mars in 2015 stating that, … Continue Reading
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently granted summary decision against California Natural Inc., a seller and marketer of personal care products, holding that the company engaged in false and misleading advertising in claiming that its sunscreen SPF 30 product was “all natural.” Last April, the FTC issued an administrative complaint against California Natural, alleging that … Continue Reading
Last month, the FTC released a staff report entitled “The ‘Sharing’ Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators,” that assesses evolving business models relying on internet and app-based “sharing economy” platforms, such as peer-to-peer platforms (think, Airbnb), and their effects on more traditional industries. The 100-page report also discusses several “trust mechanisms,” such as reputation … Continue Reading
Responding to news reports that journalists were able to purchase advertising on Facebook targeted to ethnic groups, Facebook announced several new changes to the company’s advertising products. The move highlights heightened scrutiny of advertising practices surrounding the increasing use of big data in many aspects of marketing and advertising. Facebook’s response grew out of a … Continue Reading
Last Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) sent warning letters to ten online marketers that were making Zika virus-protection claims. The Center for Disease Control believes that the Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes. The marketers in focus are currently advertising that their products repel Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes. … Continue Reading
We’ve seen native advertising take many forms, from paid celebrity Tweets to advertisements masked as editorial content to paid influencers promoting brands on social media. With a growing number of companies engaging in native advertising, in particular those involving social media influencers, the relationship between independent bloggers and corporate brands has become a sticky issue … Continue Reading
On November 4, the Federal Trade Commission announced an unprecedented coordinated federal-state enforcement effort targeting deceptive and abusive debt collection. This sweeping initiative, termed “Operation Collection Protection,” coordinates federal, state, and local actions under the FTC, the CFPB, 47 state attorneys general, and other enforcement officers and agencies. As the top source of complaints to … Continue Reading
Join John Feldman and Lesley Fair of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection for a webinar on the FTC’s “Start With Security” initiative, which is aimed at providing businesses with new guidance to better protect consumer information and maintain trust. The initiative will include conferences around the country, with two scheduled in the coming months. Today’s webinar will cover why the FTC is taking … Continue Reading
In case you missed last week's Association of National Advertisers webinar covering the FTC's Operation Full Disclosure, please join John Feldman of Reed Smith and Michael Ostheimer of the FTC's Division of Advertising Practices on Monday, December 1, 2014, as they present on a program entitled, Operation Full Disclosure: What You Need to Know About TV and Print Disclaimers, hosted by the American Bar Association (Section of Antitrust Law).
Find out what Operation Full Disclosure means to you and your clients, and learn about the Commission's ongoing efforts to educate the industry on proper disclosure practices as well as potential enforcement activities.… Continue Reading
Don't miss out on your chance to learn how the FTC's Operation Full Disclosure can affect you. Join us November 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET for the complimentary webinar, "The FTC's Operation Full Disclosure: What You Need to Know." Led by John P. Feldman, partner at Reed Smith LLP, and Michael Ostheimer, staff attorney in the FTC's Division of Advertising Practices, the webinar will cover ways to ensure all ads are complying with the FTC's standards, the latest on the commission's ongoing efforts to educate the industry on proper disclosure practices, and what to expect in the coming months with regard to enforcement.
This webinar is part of a series of complimentary webinars from the ANA Government Relations group focused on legal and regulatory issues currently affecting the marketing community.
For more information or to register visit http://www.ana.net/webinars/show/id/LRE-NOV14.… Continue Reading
Advertisers, read our firm's latest client alert on the FTC's Operation Full Disclosure to learn about what your company can do to meet the FTC's "clear and conspicuous" requirements. Take advantage of this opportunity to closely review and remedy any inadequacies in your advertising disclosures before more aggressive steps are taken by the FTC and the plaintiffs' class action bar.… Continue Reading
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") approved final changes to its Guides for Advertising Allowances and Other Merchandising Payments (the "Guides"), also known as the Fred Meyer Guides. The Guides were originally issued in 1969, and subsequently revised in 1990, to help businesses comply with sections 2(d) and (e) of the Robinson Patman Act (the "Act"). The Act generally prohibits certain forms of price discrimination between suppliers and the merchants who resell their products. Sections 2(d) and (e), which are the focus of the Guides, are designed to prohibit disguised price discrimination in the form of promotional payments or services. In other words, a supplier is prohibited from paying allowances or furnishing services to merchants to promote the resale of the supplier's products, unless the allowances or services are offered to all competing merchants on proportionally equal terms. The Act aims to help small businesses compete against chain stores by prohibiting anticompetitive price discrimination by suppliers, and certain other kinds of business discrimination. In December 2012, the FTC sought public comment on the Guides, and input on the overall costs and benefits and continuing need for the Guides.
In response to the comments solicited, the FTC approved moderate changes to the Guides in order to update them with respect to current technological developments, changes in marketing methods (such as widespread online marketing), and FTC enforcement priorities. The changes also reflect jurisprudential developments since the last revision of the Guides.… Continue Reading
In letters sent to more than 60 companies, including 20 of the top 100 TV and print advertisers in the country, the FTC warned companies to review specific ads to ensure their disclosures are "clear and conspicuous," and that they comply with federal advertising regulations.
In a press release on Tuesday, the FTC explained the initiative - Operation Full Disclosure - as the agency's latest effort to guide companies to follow proper disclosure standards and avoid misleading consumers. Specifically, the agency targeted disclosures made in fine print or that were easy to miss by the average consumer. The FTC explained that disclosures should be in proximity to the claims to which they relate and in easy-to-read font color, size, and style, so consumers have access to all relevant information. For TV ads, disclosures "should be on the screen long enough to be noticed, read, and understood, and other elements in the ads should not obscure or distract from the disclosures."
The FTC is keeping the names of those companies targeted secret in an effort to allow them a chance to adhere to disclosure laws. However, without getting too specific, the agency hinted toward recurring problems. For example, the FTC explained in some ads, "the advertiser claimed that a product was unique or superior in a product category, but did not adequately disclose how narrowly the advertiser defined the category, while other comparative ads did not adequately disclose the basis of their comparisons."… Continue Reading
Yelp recently settled allegations made by the FTC that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule, and has agreed to pay a $450,000 civil penalty for the violation, according to an FTC press release. The Yelp case underscores that online services that ask for users' ages in the registration process will be deemed as having "actual knowledge" of that information. Therefore, whether a site is directed to children or not, a registration process including an age field effectively turns the process into an "age filter," and may put the site at risk of violating COPPA.… Continue Reading
The Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on September 15, entitled "Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion?" where FTC Commissioner Julie Brill emphasized the push to place more scrutiny on data brokers, reaffirming ideas and objectives expressed in the FTC's May 2014 report on transparency and accountability.… Continue Reading
There has been a proliferation of wearable devices hitting the market, such as Google Glass, Fitbit and others, all with the ability to collect data and track behavior. These "wearables" have begun to receive some scrutiny by senators and regulators, including New York's senior senator Chuck Schumer, who recently urged the FTC to push fitness device and app companies to provide users with a clear opportunity to "opt-out", since personal information may be potentially sold to third parties without the users' knowledge or consent. For additional information on this story, please read the latest post on our firm's Global Regulatory Enforcement Law Blog.… Continue Reading
The FTC released its report "Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability", which calls for more transparency and accountability from the companies that collect, resell or share consumers' personal information, generally known as data brokers. While the report mentions some of the benefits of these companies, it strongly emphasizes their associated risks, noting that data brokers often store delicate consumer information, potentially exposing consumers to fraud, theft, and other types of consumer harm. One of the FTC's key findings was that consumers have little access or control over their information once it is provided to data brokers, sparking a call for legislative action for increased transparency and accountability. For more information on this issue, please read the latest post on our Global Regulatory Enforcement blog.… Continue Reading