FTC's Dot Com Disclosures Workshop to Focus on Mobile Advertising and Privacy May 2012


Continuing an effort that it began in May 2011, the Federal Trade Commission will host a day-long public workshop May 30, 2012, to gather information about the need to update its Dot.com Disclosure: Information About Online Advertising to keep pace with developments in the rapidly changing online landscape. The FTC first issued Dot Com Disclosures, the guidance document that advises businesses as to how federal advertising law applies to advertising and sales on the Internet, 12 years ago, and last year the agency sought public comment about how it should be updated to reflect technological advancements and marketing developments since that time.

According to the FTC's announcement, a significant focus of the workshop will be adequate disclosures in light of the challenges presented by the mobile marketplace, as well as the increased use of advertising in social networking. The workshop will include discussions on mobile advertising disclosures, mobile privacy disclosures, and social media advertising, as well as location-based tracking.

The workshop may address topics including:


  • Any current research on consumers' use of mobile and other devices, and the impact of this use on the effectiveness of disclosures on particular devices or platforms, including consumer understanding of disclosures and advertising displayed on mobile devices, the effectiveness of layered disclosures and icons, and the implications for use in conveying other information such as offer terms and privacy policies;
  • Effective disclosures on social media platforms and mobile devices including those that limit the size of messages;
  • Timing of adequate disclosures of terms when provided separately from the initial advertising - for example, when and how to convey the terms of location-based mobile offers;
  • Retaining disclosures from original advertising when ads are aggregated (for example, on a dashboard) or re-transmitted (for example, by re-tweeting);
  • Using hyperlinks, jump links, hashtags, click-throughs, layered disclosures, icons, and other similar options - their capabilities and limitations in disclosures;
  • Providing consumers with information such as terms of agreements on devices that do not allow downloading or printing; and
  • Providing short, effective, and accessible privacy disclosures on mobile devices.

We will report on the workshop and the FTC's expected revisions to Dot.com Disclosures in upcoming alerts.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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