FTC Announces Accelerated Review of Six Rules & Guides

On July 7, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced an updated regulatory review schedule of numerous rules and guides in order to keep pace with the current technological landscape and rapidly evolving marketplace, while at the same time promoting greater efficiency and transparency.  For the first time, the FTC is seeking public comments on how the regulatory review process can be enhanced to better serve consumers and businesses, including how often it should review rules and guides and how it can modify its regulatory review program to make it more responsive to the needs of consumers and businesses.

The updated regulatory rules and guides review schedule for the next decade was published concurrently with a hearing on potential rulemaking reforms called by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.  The initiatives are intended to ensure its regulations are current and not overly burdensome, including launching a new regulatory review web page. The FTC’s healthy regulatory review docket includes thirteen (13) rules and guides currently under review, as well as ten (10) additional rule reviews scheduled to commence sometime in 2011.  In sum, more than one-third of the FTC’s sixty-six (66) rules and guides will be under review, or will have just been reviewed, by the end of 2011.

The FTC is currently in the process of assessing its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.  Particularly relevant to eCommerce business, the FTC plans on reviewing several of its guides in 2012, including the interpretation of just how Section 5 of the FTC Act applies to specific trade practices, its Guides Against Deceptive Pricing, Guides Against Bait Advertising, and Guides Concerning Use of the Word “Free” and Similar Representations.  It is anticipated that the FTC will revisit its Telemarketing Sales Rule in 2013.

The FTC’s agenda in 2014 is expected to include a review of its Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information, followed by its review of the CAN-SPAM Act in 2015.  The FTC will review its identity theft Red Flag rules in 2018.  In 2020, regulators plan to revisit the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Guidelines, Privacy of Consumer Financial Information Rule, Health Breach Notification Rule, and Affiliate Marketing.

Richard B. Newman is an highly-respected Internet Lawyer and FTC Defense Lawyer at Hinch Newman LLP. He has made a name for himself in the industry having been the lead attorney on several well known cases. He can be contacted at rnewman@hinchnewman.com

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