Ad Industry Fights Back at Bill That Expands FTC’s Power

jon leibowitz

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is calling out theFederal Trade Commission on a new bill that would expand its power to making iteasier for them to bring civil lawsuits and create new rules. The ConsumerFinancial Protection Agency Act passed in the House Energy and CommerceCommittee last Thursday, and is expected to pass in the House as well.

The FTC is beginning to more aggressively police the online space, having recently announced a new set of guidelines requiring bloggers to disclose the freebies and gifts that they write about.

Mike Zaneis, the vice president of public policy for theIAB, says certain provisions of the latest bill make it a “fast track vehicle forexpansion of the FTC” and calls it “Washington D.C. at its finest.” He alsosays that while they expected the committee to pass the bill, the urgency forlobbying against the provisions is increasing.

In October,the IAB had already made an open call to the FTC to repeal bloggerrules, calling the extra rules imposed on blogger–and not those of traditionalmedia like TV–unconstitutional.

MediaPost even says that if the bill is passed, FTC ChairJon Leibowitz would essentially become an “Internet czar,” while Leibowitz toldthe energy and commerce committee the bill would help them fight fraud.

Supporters of the bill include groups like the ConsumersUnion and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, who are infavor of the FTC playing a bigger role in regulating online marketing andadvertising to protect consumers.

Current rules support industry self-regulation–are consumersreally so susceptible to fraud that we really need government regulation?

[Photo via Ralph Alswang]ACL