FTC Announces Reorganization to Make Rules Against Deceptive Businesses
WASHINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission is organizing a new rulemaking office to coordinate its efforts against what it calls deceptive business practices.
The agency’s chairwoman described the reorganization as the start of a more aggressive campaign to protect consumers from corporations that use their market dominance to extract unfair profits.
“I believe that we can and must use our rulemaking authority to deliver effective deterrence for the novel harms of the digital economy and persistent old scams alike,” Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said in a statement. “It is also time for the Commission to activate its unfair methods of competition rulemaking authority in our increasingly concentrated economy.”
Any FTC proposals for more rules have traditionally run into critics, such as former acting FTC Chair Maureen K. Ohlhausen.
She told Congress in 2016 that more rules could create confusion for businesses and their customers with uncertainties between consumer protection and competition enforcement.
Nevertheless, some Democrats were quick to praise the FTC’s announcement.
“For too long, the FTC has failed to use the full extent of its authority to protect American consumers and workers,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., in a statement. “As a result, numerous sectors of the economy are highly concentrated and firms have engaged in widespread anticompetitive conduct, leading to higher prices, lower wages and fewer choices.”
The FTC’s rulemaking is now spread among different divisions that handle competition, consumer protection, economic analysis and other issues.
Slaughter said the reorganization under the general counsel’s office would help the FTC confront corporate wrongdoing more directly.
The expanded rulemaking appears to advance a campaign promise by President Joe Biden that he would aggressively seek to defend consumer rights. It also represents a change from the Trump administration, which relaxed regulation enforcement against businesses.
FTC officials said their renewed rulemaking campaign is becoming more urgent considering the Supreme Court might limit their ability to seek financial compensation for consumers.
The FTC interprets Section 13(b) of the FTC Act to authorize the agency to require businesses to compensate consumers who they have wronged. However, a group of businesses suing in the case of AMG Capital Management v. FTC argues the agency is exceeding its authority.
The FTC also seeks injunctions against corporations for deceptive or unfair businesses practices. The injunctions are court orders for the businesses to halt their offensive behavior.
The FTC would be able to continue its injunctions against businesses if it loses in the Supreme Court but not the forced compensation for consumers.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in January. Its ruling is pending.
Traditionally, the FTC has invoked authority under the Sherman and Clayton Acts to enforce laws against antitrust, anticompetitive behavior or unfair business practices.
Slaughter said rulemakings are needed to supplement the federal laws with the broader authority they give the FTC.
She mentioned as examples the Funeral Rule, which spells out the rights of consumers while they make funeral arrangements; and the Eyeglass Rule, which requires doctors to give patients copies of their prescriptions after exams.
The FTC said digital technology has created new challenges that need to be addressed by rulemakings, such as fake online product reviews.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on businesses that... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on businesses that employ 100 or more workers, but in a separate ruling allowed a mandate on health care workers to proceed. In a 6-3, 30-page ruling in the... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal law banning surprise medical bills U.S. patients may receive following an emergency room visit, air ambulance... Read More
WASHINGTON — A federal law banning surprise medical bills U.S. patients may receive following an emergency room visit, air ambulance trip, or receiving care out-of-network went into effect on Jan 1., but health policy expert Jack Hoadley finds that gaps in the legislation may leave some... Read More
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by... Read More
WASHINGTON — Two coaches from the Washington Nationals baseball team are adding to the lawsuits spun off from mandates by the federal government and private employers requiring employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The federal mandate announced by President Joe Biden last fall takes effect next... Read More
WASHINGTON — Investment markets around the world are realizing that a short-term focus on purely financial goals is no longer... Read More
WASHINGTON — Investment markets around the world are realizing that a short-term focus on purely financial goals is no longer sufficient. But as the momentum behind environmental, social, and governance builds, it’s the European Union that is really leading the charge, launching a series of reforms... Read More
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday the Department of Labor set new limits on the amount of time employers can use tipped-employees... Read More
WASHINGTON — On Tuesday the Department of Labor set new limits on the amount of time employers can use tipped-employees to do non-tip-producing work. The new ruling, implemented at a time of nation-wide labor shortages, comes via a clarification of language in the Fair Labor Standards... Read More
PURCHASE, N.Y. — Holiday retail sales, excluding automotive, increased 8.5% year-over-year this holiday season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Mastercard SpendingPulse... Read More
PURCHASE, N.Y. — Holiday retail sales, excluding automotive, increased 8.5% year-over-year this holiday season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. It defines the “holiday season” as the period running from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.... Read More