FTC - Protecting America's Consumers - Warning Letter

Press Release – FTC Looking to Modernize Guidance on Digital Disclosures

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is continuing to increase its enforcement efforts to protect consumers by now looking to update it guidance when it comes to digital disclosers. Feeling that some companies have used the previous guides as a way to deceive customers, the FTC is looking for modernized guidelines to prevent any such deception in the future. According to the FTC’s press release:

“The staff of the Federal Trade Commission is seeking the public’s input on ways to modernize the agency’s business guidance titled “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising.” First published in March 2013, this resource provides guidance to businesses on digital advertising and marketing.

As digital deception grows in sophistication, some companies are wrongly citing the guides to justify practices that mislead consumers online. For example, firms have claimed that they can avoid liability under the FTC Act by burying disclosures behind hyperlinks, a practice that can expose consumers to financial fraud, intrusive surveillance, and other harms.

“We know that some companies are wrongly citing our current guides to justify dark patterns and other forms of digital deception,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are looking to update the guides to make clear that online tricks and traps will not be tolerated, and we look forward to hearing from the public on this initiative.”

FTC staff is seeking public input to ensure the guides are helping honest businesses treat consumers fairly, rather than being used as a shield by firms looking to deceive. In seeking public comment on possible revisions, staff is interested in the technical and legal issues that consumers, the FTC’s law enforcement partners, and others believe should be addressed.”

To read the full press release from the FTC, click here.

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