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

jon leibowitz

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is calling out the
Federal Trade Commission on a new bill that would expand its power to making it
easier for them to bring civil lawsuits and create new rules. The Consumer
Financial Protection Agency Act passed in the House Energy and Commerce
Committee 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 the
IAB, says certain provisions of the latest bill make it a “fast track vehicle for
expansion of the FTC” and calls it “Washington D.C. at its finest.” He also
says that while they expected the committee to pass the bill, the urgency for
lobbying against the provisions is increasing.

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

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

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

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

[Photo via Ralph Alswang]ACL