For Release: March 31, 2006
Chairman Issues Commission’s Annual Report at ABA Spring Meeting
“The FTC in 2006: Committed to Consumers and Competition”
Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras today issued the agency’s 2006 Annual Report at the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting in Washington, DC. The report, entitled “The FTC in 2006: Committed to Consumers and Competition,” is available now on the Commission’s Web site and includes sections on the FTC’s competition and consumer protection missions and recent accomplishments, as well as a summary of the policy tools it uses to complement its array of law enforcement and international outreach and coordination efforts.
The report states that, “The FTC remains steady towards its goal – to enforce consumer welfare.” It calls competition “the ultimate consumer protection,” stating that, “When competition alone cannot deter those who would use deception or unfair practices, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protect consumers . . . in a time of tremendous technological change, which is fast bringing the global marketplace to the doorstep of every consumer. In describing the key items of focus and accomplishment over the past year, the report cites seven major themes:
- Enforcement. The Commission continued an active enforcement agenda in 2005, including issuing opinions in three adjudicative matters. In addition, the FTC took action to protect competition and consumers in close to a dozen proposed mergers in a wide range of economic sectors; filed one complaint in federal court and approved consent orders in seven anticompetitive conduct cases; and pursued two cases to enforce compliance with the HSR Act regulations. On the consumer protection side, the FTC scored victories for consumer privacy and brought 60 actions in federal district court to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive trade practices, with allegations ranging from bogus weight-loss claims to advance-fee credit card scams.
- Education. An essential mission of the FTC is to educate consumers, businesses,
and its staff on rights, responsibilities, and the changing marketplace. The past year’s
major consumer education initiatives included protection against identity theft (reaching
over seven million consumers), safe Internet surfing (launching the “OnGuard Online”
campaign), and an ambitious outreach program to the nation’s Hispanic population.
- Efficiency. The FTC currently is actively examining its administrative procedures
to ensure it is working efficiently in the public interest, always asking the question:
Do these processes benefit consumers without unduly burdening legitimate business
activity? For example, in March 2006, the FTC and DOJ jointly published a Commentary on the Horizontal Merger Guidelines to explain their analytical approach and enhance the quality of communications between the government and merging parties during the merger review process.
- Evolving Technology and Markets. In the first years of this century, technological and market changes are occurring rapidly, and the FTC is committed to keeping pace. Competition investigations increasingly focus on high technology sectors of the economy. In pharmaceuticals, for example, the FTC has initiated a study on the circumstances in which innovator companies launch authorized generic drugs.
- Engagement Worldwide. The FTC has stepped up its work with both competition and
consumer protection agencies around the world. International cooperation not only can
lead to more effective law enforcement against global scam artists, but also can ease
burdens on legitimate businesses that operate on a global basis.
- Electronic Government. The FTC continues to be a leader in the use of technology
and the Internet to inform and interact with consumers and businesses. Starting in the
mid-1990s, the FTC began building interlinked public consumer protection Web sites to
educate consumers and to collect and analyze data on a broad range of consumer
protection issues, including high tech fraud and identity theft. More and more, the agency has relied on electronic means for more efficient communication with its stakeholders.
- Excellence. During the past year, the agency invested significant resources in training staff and development. For example, the FTC held its first agency-wide new attorney and economist training program with skills workshops and substantive presentations on competition, consumer protection, and economics, as well as government ethics and professionalism.
In describing the policy tools the FTC uses to complement its law enforcement efforts, the report cites: 1) research and reports; 2) hearings and workshops, including those held jointly with other agencies; 3) advocacy activities; 4) amicus brief filings; 5) testimony before external entities such as the Antitrust Modernization Commission; 6) consumer and business education and outreach; and 7) international activities designed to promote cooperation and convergence through bilateral relationships and the provision of international technical assistance.
Copies of the report are available on the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1 877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
- Media Contact:
- FTC Office of Public Affairs