Section 5 of the FTC Act: To Parameter or Not To Parameter?

Section 5 of the FTC Act parameters
Will officials finally formalize FTC Act rules?

The Federal Trade Commission recently hosted a public debate. The topic? Parameters for Section 5 of the FTC Act. The first open gathering on the issue in seven years, at the event, both pro-guideline and anti-guideline advocates shared conflicting views.

But did participants come any closer to a consensus? Not a chance.

Section 5 of the FTC Act: A History of Conflict

For decades, lawyers and lawmakers have quibbled over the FTC Act. Academics, elected officials and court officers have all offered strong opinions regarding the U.S. Congress’ ultimate intention when it green lit the law’s bill back in 1913. Usually, discussions regarding Section 5 take place behind closed doors. But for the first time since 2008, commissioners hosted a debate where representatives from the public sphere and private sector convened to debate the issues.

The Main Debate: Parameters

What are the main issues that have people pounding on about parameters? In short, these two questions anchor the contentious issue:

  • Should officials formalize Section 5 of the FTC Act parameters? and
  • Should lawmakers pass additional federal online marketing statutes that address “unfair and deceptive” practices?

Pro-formalization people argue that better definitions will lead to more transparency, efficiency, predictability and cohesion. Anti-formalization advocates think the current process isn’t hurting the marketplace and stringent guidelines will only lead to an unnecessarily bloated bureaucracy.

Does The Chatter About FTC Guidelines Transfer To Actual Action?

The FTC is in a transition phase; Chairwoman Ramirez is serving her final months at the helm, and new hires are being brought in for key technical positions. To wit, don’t expect significant policy movement on this matter for many months, if not years.

Speak With A Lawyer Who Deeply Understands Section 5 of the FTC Act & How To Work With It

In the meantime: if you’re facing an Internet law issue related to online promotional campaigns, or if you landed on the FTC’s radar, contact Kelly / Warner Law for help. A pioneer in the field of online marketing legal research and litigation, our team has helped over 500 companies and entrepreneurs navigate the peaks and valleys of advertising legalities. Get in touch today so we can start solving your legal problems, for the right price.


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