Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Deceptive or Misleading Conduct & Consumer Protection

  • The FTC recently issued full refunds totaling over $2 million to consumers who lost money through certain deceptive direct mail schemes. The agency recovered the refunds via a federal district court order resulting from the FTC’s lawsuit against Agora Financial, LLC, NewMarket Health, and other defendants. The lawsuit was based upon two publications defendants marketed to older consumers. One publication contained a protocol promising to permanently cure type 2 diabetes in 28 days, while the other promised to show how to claim money from a secret giveaway by Congress. The FTC obtained the order including consumer refunds before the Supreme Court stripped the agency of its ability to obtain equitable monetary relief in federal court in the April 22, 2021 AMG Capital decision. Congress has not yet acted on the FTC’s request to reinstate this power.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

FTC Budget and Internal Operations: Privacy and Antitrust Enforcement

  • The House Committee on Rules published an updated draft of H.R. 5376, also known as the Build Back Better Act. Section 31501 of the Act includes a $500 million appropriation for the FTC to “create and operate a bureau” to allow the agency “to accomplish its work related to unfair or deceptive acts or practices related to privacy, data security, identity theft, data abuses, and related matters.” The funds would remain available to the FTC for this purpose until September 30, 2029. Section 62002 of the Act appropriates an additional $500 million to the FTC, available until September 30, 2031, for “carrying out work of the Commission related to unfair methods of competition or enforcement of the antitrust laws.” The House had hoped to pass the bill by November 5th, but the vote has been postponed in order to obtain more information from the Congressional Budget Office.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

FTC Internal Operations: Artificial Intelligence

  • The FTC has hired Meredith Whittaker, faculty director of the AI Now Institute at New York University and former Google AI researcher, to serve as a senior advisor on AI. FTC Chair Lina Khan tweeted about the hire, writing that having Ms. Whittaker on board would help ensure that the FTC’s “enforcement & policy efforts keep pace with new technologies and business practices.”