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

jon leibowitzThe 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]