The FTC is in feedback-seeking mode, looking for input on topics ranging from the draft Merger Guidelines to privacy. The agency also collaborated with the CFPB on an amicus brief regarding the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and entered into a cooperation agreement with several Latin American countries. More on this, after the jump.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

  • As previously reported on this blog, the FTC sought comments about an application for a proposed method from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (“ESRB”) to obtain verifiable parental consent online using biometric information. The agency received over 350 comments. Therefore, the Commission voted to extend COPPA’s 120-day deadline by an additional 120 days to ensure that they can adequately review the comments received on the proposal.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Bureau of Competition: FTC-DOJ Merger Guidelines

  • The FTC and DOJ announced additional in-person workshops on October 5, 2023 and November 3, 2023 in relation to the 2023 Draft Merger Guidelines.  The workshops are designed to foster in-depth discussions about the Guidelines to complement an earlier workshop and the 1,600 public comments already submitted to the agency.  The agenda and registration link are live for the October 5th workshop, and the FTC will provide similar information for the November 5 workshop in the coming weeks.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: PrivacyCon

  • The FTC’s eighth annual PrivacyCon event isn’t until March 6, 2024, but the agency is already making preparations and has issued a Call for Presentations. The FTC is seeking “empirical research and demonstrations on consumer privacy and data security, including rigorous economic analyses, social science research, and law and policy articles that include an empirical or applied focus.” Particular topics of interest for 2024 include “automated systems, health-related surveillance, children’s and teens’ privacy, deepfakes, worker surveillance, and the Advertising Ecosystem and Surveillance Advertising.” Presentation proposals must be submitted to the agency by December 6, 2023. 

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Deceptive “Going into Business” Marketing

  • The Commission entered into a proposed settlement order with Lurn, Inc. and its CEO to stop allegedly unlawful practices related to various programs that claim to teach consumers how to earn thousands of dollars online via email-based affiliate marketing, eBook sales, and customizable mug sales. The federal complaint alleges that these earnings claims are unsubstantiated and violate Section 5(a) of the FTC act regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices as well as the Telemarketing Sales Rule. In addition, the agency previously warned the company via an October 26, 2021 Notice of Penalty Offenses letter that its conduct could subject it to liability under the FTC Act.

FTC Operations: Horseracing Rule Updates

  • Following a period of public comment, the FTC issued an order approving a modified version of proposed Rule 8400(a)(2), which grants the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority investigatory powers with respect to civil violations committed under its jurisdiction. The modification clarifies the meaning of “object” or “device” in relation to the Authority’s ability to seize these and other materials involved in a suspected civil violation.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Bureau of Consumer Protection: International Consumer Protection and Enforcement

  • The Commission, with assistance from the FTC’s Office of International Affairs, signed a cooperation agreement with four Latin American countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru) to promote a shared commitment to combat cross-border fraud, deception, and other illegal practices impacting consumers. The agreement establishes a framework for mutual assistance and information sharing to facilitate this goal.

Bureau of Consumer Protection: Fair Credit Reporting Act In collaboration with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FTC filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in relation to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”). The underlying case assessed the scope of a furnisher’s duties under FCRA provisions that allow consumers to dispute information on their credit reports that they believe is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverified.  The FTC’s brief argues that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the defendant bank because it used the incorrect standard. The court found that the plaintiff consumer did not meet her burden of showing that a reasonable investigation of her credit dispute would have revealed inaccurate information in her credit report. The FTC’s brief explains that furnishers must also remove disputed credit information when it is unverifiable, and argues that summary judgment solely on inaccuracy grounds was improper. The agency’s press release expresses concerns that the district court’s decision “could impact consumers’ rights under the FCRA to dispute the completeness or accuracy of information and have it removed if a furnisher cannot verify that it is accurate.”