The staff of the Federal Trade Commission is updating “Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising,” the guidance document that advises businesses how federal advertising law applies to advertising and sales on the Internet. [Download “Dot Com Disclosures” here.] The online world has changed dramatically since the original guidance was published in 2000, and the FTC is seeking public comment about how it should be modified to reflect these changes. [Read staff invitation to submit comments here.]
Since the FTC staff published Dot Com Disclosures, mobile marketing has become a reality, the “App” economy has emerged, the use of “pop-up blockers” has become widespread and online social networking has emerged and grown popular. In seeking public comment on possible revisions to the guidance document, the staff is interested in the technical and legal issues that marketers, consumer advocates and others believe should be addressed.
The 2000 guidance emphasizes that the same consumer protection laws apply to marketers whether they operate online or not. It illustrates how online marketers should provide clear and conspicuous disclosures of information that consumers need to make informed online purchasing decisions. It also discusses how the traditional factors used to evaluate whether disclosures are likely to be clear and conspicuous apply in the context of online advertising.
The FTC will seek public comment for 45 days, beginning today and continuing through July 11, 2011. Interested parties can submit written comments electronically or in paper form. [Submit comment electronically by clicking here.] Hard-copy comments should be mailed or delivered to: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex D), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC requests that any comment filed in paper form near the end of the public comment period be sent by courier or overnight service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security precautions.
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.