CLBR Segment 1: Updating the E-Disclosure Guidelines

Background

2000

FTC Unveils DotCom Disclosure Guidelines.  As the Guidelines explained “[d]isclosures that are required to prevent deception mor to provide consumers material information about a transaction—must be presented “clearly and conspicuously.””

To evaluate whether a particular disclosure is clear and conspicuous, consider:

  • the placement of the disclosure in an advertisement and its proximity to the claim it is qualifying,
  • the prominence of the disclosure
  • whether items in other parts of the advertisement distract attention from the disclosure,
  • whether the advertisement is so lengthy that the disclosure needs to be repeated,
  • whether disclosures in audio messages are presented in an adequate volume and cadence and visual disclosures appear for a sufficient duration, and
  • whether the language of the disclosure is understandable to the intended audience.

2009

The Federal Trade Commission updates its endorsement guidelines and applies it to bloggers.

2010

Federal Trade Commission decides to take no action against Ann Taylor after bloggers failed to comply with endorsement guidelines but found that Ann Taylor took reasonable steps to prevent a violation. 

2011

FTC seeks comments on whether to update the DotCom Disclosure Guidelines, asking:

  • what issues have been raised by new online technologies, Internet activities, or features that have emerged since the business guide was issued (e.g., mobile marketing, including screen size) that should be addressed in a revised guidance document?
  • what issues raised by new laws or regulations should be addressed in a revised guidance document?
  • What researchr other information regarding the online marketplace, online advertising techniques, consumer online behavior, or the effectiveness of online disclosures should be considered in a revised guidance document?
  • What specific types of online disclosures, if any, raise unique issues that should be considered separately from general disclosure requirements?
  • What guidance in the original “Dot Com Disclosures” document is outdated or unnecessary?
  • What guidance in “Dot Com Disclosures” should be clarified, expanded, strengthened, or limited?
  • What issues relating to disclosures have arisen from multi-party selling arrangements in Internet commerce, such as (1) established online sellers providing a platform for other firms to market and sell their products online, (2) website operators being compensated for referring consumers to other Internet sites that offer products and services, and (3) other affiliate marketing arrangements?

Mary Engel discusses this project and the blogger guidelines on CLBR.

TODAY

FTC holds workshop on whether disclosure guidelines need to be updated to reflect social media and mobile platforms.

Steve DelBianco – NetChoice

NetChoice is a coalition of trade associations, eCommerce businesses, and online consumers, all of whom share the goal of promoting convenience, choice and commerce on the Net.  NetChoice publishes the Internet Advocates Watchlist For Ugly Laws, which details the worst in state andd federal legislation.

Steve and NetChoice are on the first panel at today’s FTC Workshop.

As Executive Director, Steve works with NetChoice members to set and execute the coalition’s agenda.

Steve has become a well-known expert on Internet governance, online consumer protection, and Internet taxation.  He’s provided expert testimony in eight Congressional hearings and in dozens of  state legislative hearings.

For over a decade, Steve has been a powerful advocate for NetChoice positions at the National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he was named Private Sector Member of the Year.  Moreover, Steve regularly enters the lion’s den at the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, where he’s the lone opponent of new tax burdens on Internet commerce.

Regarding Internet governance, Steve protects NetChoice member interests at ICANN, where he’s twice been elected as policy chair for the Business Constituency.  He’s participated in all five meetings of the UN’s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and is a leader and organizer at the IGF-USA.

Steve is frequently quoted on technology issues in the media, including a segment on 60 Minutes to expose barriers to innovation in residential real estate.

Before his work at NetChoice, Steve was founder and president of Financial Dynamics, an IT consulting firm that he led through the evolution of industry trends. Under Steve’s leadership, Financial Dynamics grew to over $20 million in revenues by 1997, when it was acquired by a national firm. Today, Steve continues to advise and invest in early stage companies as a partner in venture capital funds. In addition, he served as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Steve holds degrees in Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the Wharton School. He lives in McLean, Virginia with his wife and three children, where he is active in community government.

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