On March 28, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission released its 2016 Annual Highlights. The Highlights demonstrate the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers and promote competition over the past calendar year.
“2016 was a historic year for the FTC. We obtained almost $12 billion in redress for consumers, and took action in more than a dozen merger cases to preserve competition,” Acting Chairman Ohlhausen said. “The Commission’s enforcement, policy and consumer and business education work shows our strong commitment to protecting consumers and promoting competition and innovation.”
The Highlights address various noteworthy legal actions across numerous sectors, including health care, technology and other consumer products and services.
The Commission continued to promote competition through its merger challenges and anticompetitive conduct cases. It brought two cases against companies for using unlawful means to maintain a monopoly, increasing consumer prices, and limiting access and innovation.
Regarding consumer protection, the Commission obtained the largest false advertising settlement in its history with Volkswagen Group of America and secured a historic settlement with Herbalife that required the company to fundamentally restructure its business and pay $200 million to compensate consumers who lost money.
Privacy and data security continued to be a high priority for the agency, particularly in the mobile marketplace. For example, the agency alleged that digital advertising company Turn deceived consumers by tracking them online and through their mobile apps, even after consumers took steps to opt out of such tracking.
On the policy front, the FTC filed eight amicus briefs on topics such as pharmaceutical markets, reverse payments and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Staff conducted 20 workshops and conferences on a range of topics including state regulation of auto sales, solar distribution generation, security for startup businesses and a number of tech-driven workshops in its Fall Technology Series.
The Commission and staff also published 19 reports on topics including sharing economy platforms, big data and fraud.
From an educational perspective, the Highlights acknowledge the agency’s work to help businesses understand their rights and legal responsibilities, and inform people about ways to avoid fraud and deceptive business practices.
In addition to the many educational products the agency released in 2016, the FTC published more than 30 blog posts through its Competition Matters blog on topics like merger remedies and antitrust laws in job markets, and more than 140 blog posts for business people and attorneys.
The Commission also unveiled its free mobile-friendly financial readiness tool at Military.Consumer.gov, which helps members of the military community navigate personal financial decisions in light of the unique challenges they face, such as frequent relocations and deployment.
Contact an advertising compliance lawyer if you would like to discuss FTC regulatory policy, or the design and implementation of compliant advertising campaigns.
HINCH NEWMAN LLP. ADVERTISING MATERIAL. These materials are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice, nor do they create a lawyer-client relationship. No person should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the advice of an attorney. Information on previous case results does not guarantee a similar future result.