FTC Invites Public Comments on the Revision of the “Dot Com Disclosures” Business Guidance Document

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering updating and reissuing the “Dot Com Disclosures” business guide1 that it originally issued in 2000 to assist online advertisers in complying with consumer protection laws. In a nod to the times, the FTC has acknowledged that the online world has changed dramatically since the guide was published 11 years ago. In particular, the FTC noted that when the guide was issued mobile devices were not prevalent, the “app” economy did not exist, use of pop-up blockers was not widespread, and online social networking was not popular or sophisticated.

Designed to help advertisers and others maintain compliance with the FTC Act, the “Dot Com Disclosures” business guide is not binding law, but it does provide insight on the FTC’s current thinking as to compliance with the FTC Act. In fact, although not a formal regulation, the business guide has been cited by the FTC in its comments accompanying Consent Orders (see, e.g., In the Matter of Basic Research, L.L.C., 2004 F.T.C. LEXIS 273 (F.T.C. Aug. 20, 2004) and In the Matter of Advertising.com, Inc., 140 F.T.C. 220 (F.T.C. Sept. 12, 2005)) and by federal courts considering unfair and deceptive advertising claims (see, e.g., In re VistaPrint Corp Mktg. & Sales Practices Litig., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77509 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 31, 2009)).

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