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June 30, 1999
Secretary, Federal Trade Commission
Dear Mr. Secretary:
The Industry Council for Tangible Assets (ICTA) appreciates the opportunity to respond to the Notice/Request for Comments published by the Federal Trade Commission on page 24996 of the May 6, 1998, Federal Register.
ICTA is the national trade association for people who buy and sell rare coins and precious metals. Most of our members are single proprietor owners or small "mom and pop shops" that have developed steady clientele over many years of operation and satisfactory transactions. Some of our members do engage in mail order sales and, like most businesses nationwide, are doing more and more business via the Internet. ICTA strives to keep its members educated on legislation and regulation that affect their business.
I attended the May 14 public workshop, and our comments reflect some of the ideas discussed there. We support the comments of both the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) pertaining to clear and conspicuous disclosures, using e-mail for required communications, and the continuation of flexible application of existing regulation to new technology.
ICTA is pleased to see the common-sense approach the FTC is taking in its intent to model regulations for advertising via electronic media on existing regulations for print and broadcast media. These regulations have proven to be effective and workable for many years and provide a sound basis for regulating electronic advertising. Rather than promulgate a new set of regulations, we would suggest the FTC provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable Internet advertising based on existing regulations for print and broadcast media.
These would include specific topics as discussed at the workshop, such as defining "clear and conspicuous" disclosure, using e-mail as a method of required communication, use of hyperlinks, and overall design of ads.
While we do not disagree that there may be a need for some type of regulation, we believe that on-line commerce is, to a major extent, self-policing. We commend the FTCs support of industry self-regulation that can enhance information flow and the creative growth of this medium.
We also support the FTCs use of the proven "reasonable consumer" test for any new guidelines. We urge the FTC to avoid constraining tomorrows technology by applying rules designed for today, and we recommend frequent analyses of final regulations (including dialog with industry representatives) in light of rapidly changing Internet technology. ICTA would be pleased to help the FTC with issues that directly impact the rare coin/precious metals industry and hope the Commission will call on us for information, expert referrals, etc.
Please call me if you have any questions or require additional information. We also ask that you keep ICTA on the FTCs mailing list for future workshops on this subject.
Eloise A. Ullman