International Consumer Protection

Globalization of trade, improvements in international telecommunications, outsourcing, and the advent of the Internet have created unprecedented new opportunities for consumers and businesses. The FTC pursues the development of an international market-based consumer protection model, which focuses on protecting consumers from significant harm while maximizing economic benefit and consumer choice.

These developments have also posed new problems for American consumers. The problems have ranged from traditional scams that thrived online, such as pyramid schemes and business operations making false product claims, and aggressive advance-fee loan, foreign lottery, and sweepstakes telemarketing schemes, to Internet-enabled frauds like spoofed emails, web addresses, and computer system scans. The challenges for the FTC and other law enforcers have included the global reach and speed of the Internet; the ability of scammers to cloak themselves in anonymity; the ease of moving ill-gotten gains to offshore asset havens; and the roadblocks to information sharing and cooperation created by national laws and borders.

As more U.S. companies and consumers do business overseas, and as technological developments make consumer protection a more global concern, the FTC’s work involves international cooperation. The FTC works with more than 100 foreign competition and consumer protection authorities around the world, and cooperates with foreign authorities on enforcement and policy matters through formal and informal agreements. In the area of consumer protection enforcement, the FTC relies on 4 key tools: (1) information sharing; (2) investigative assistance; (3) cross-border jurisdictional authority; and (4) enforcement relationships. The US SAFE WEB Act enables these international consumer protection tools.

The FTC also participates in consumer protection fora such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), the London Action Plan, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, among others. Privacy enforcement and policy also has an international dimension. The FTC enforces the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework. The FTC also participates in several privacy networks, such as the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN), the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum, and the APEC Cross Border Privacy Enforcement Arrangement (CPEA). For policy work on e-commerce and emerging technologies, the FTC participates in the Committee on Consumer Policy of the OECD, the Working Party on Information Security and Privacy of the OECD, the APEC Electronic Commerce Steering Group and its Data Privacy Subgroup, and the APEC Telecommunication and Information Working Group.

econsumer.govNotably, the FTC participates in econsumer.gov’s project of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) to gather and share cross-border complaints and to help consumers resolve those complaints.

 

FTC International Consumer Protection Documents
Letter from Chairwoman Edith Ramirez to Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President in Charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Expressing the Federal Trade Commission’s Commitment to Protecting Consumer Privacy and the Enforcement of the Safe Harbor Program
  Privacy Enforcement and Safe Harbor: Comments of the FTC Staff to European Commission Review of the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework (November 12, 2013)
FTC Staff Comment on the United Kingdom Department of Business Innovation & Skills Consultation, Civil Enforcement Remedies: Consultation on extending the range of remedies available to public enforcers of consumer law (December 31, 2012)
FTC Staff Comments on the European Commission's Green Paper Titled "Towards an Integrated European Market for Card, Internet and Mobile Payments" (April 10, 2012)
FTC Staff Comment on the United Kingdom Department of Business Innovation & Skills Consultation, Empowering and Protecting Consumers: Consultation on institutional changes for provision of consumer information, advice, education, advocacy and enforcement (September 27, 2011)
  Annex A to Staff Comment
FTC Staff Comments on the Modernization of the Council of Europe's Convention 108 (March 9, 2011)
FTC Staff Comments on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Do Not Call Case Study (February 16, 2011)
FTC Staff Comments on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Spam Case Study (February 15, 2011)
FTC Staff Comments on South Africa’s Proposed Consumer Protection Regulations, 2010 (January 31, 2011)
FTC Staff Comments submitted to the European Commission (EC) in connection with the EC data protection framework consultation (January 13, 2011)
Comments by the FTC staff and the DHS Privacy Office on the Joint Proposal for International Standards on the Protection of Privacy with regard to the Processing Of Personal Data (the "Madrid Resolution") (August 10, 2010)
U.S. SAFE WEB Act: The First Three Years, A Report to Congress (2009)
U.S. SAFE WEB Requests for Information and Investigative Assistance: Information Sheet for Foreign Authorities
Comment by staff of the FTC and the DHS Privacy Office dated May 14, 2009 on Version 3 of the Joint Proposal for a Draft of International Standards on the Protection of Privacy with regard to the processing of Personal Data
U.S. Federal Trade Commission Staff Response to the U.K. Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Law Reform's Consumer Law Review: Call for Evidence (April 2008)
U.S. Federal Trade Commission Staff Comments to the European Commission on its Draft RFID Recommendation (April 2008)