When the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection started the Business Blog in 2010, we promised readers “a minimum of ho-hum, a maximum of how-to, and as little yadda yadda yadda as a legal website can manage.” More than 1,000 Business Blog posts later and we’re still striving to keep things engaging and enlightening (although being a legal website and all, we’ve succeeded is cutting out only two of the yaddas).
The FTC’s unique dual mission is to protect consumers and promote competition. In addition to law enforcement, a critical part of our job is to help consumers access accurate information. Another component is to offer companies guidance about complying with the law. There’s a time for case precedent and C.F.R. cites, but occasionally it’s best to conduct that conversation in an informal voice – and the Business Blog is Exhibit A.
We’ve rapped about lice, parodied Poe, and took to the dance floor for a disco-inspired primer on employers’ responsibilities under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. We aim to keep the content informative and the popular cultural references at least remotely relevant. We do our best to be scrupulously accurate about the law, but we’re also happy when readers ask “Are you sure this is a government blog?”
But the Business Blog is only one part of the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Business Center. For the convenience of business owners, advertisers, marketing executives, and the attorneys who represent them, we divide the resources of the Business Center into five sections:
- Advertising & Marketing. That’s where we cover topics like health claims, endorsements, Made in USA, and telemarketing.
- Credit & Finance. That’s the financial hub, addressing debt collection, credit, billing, and payments.
- Privacy & Data Security. Look there for information about – obviously – consumer privacy and data security, but also credit reporting, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, and the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.
- Selected Industries. This page links to one-stop portals for businesses covered by particular FTC rules – for example, auto dealers, members of the funeral industry, or companies that sell clothing and textiles.
- Protecting Small Businesses. The newest addition to the site, that’s where we curate just-the-facts tips on cybersecurity and scams targeting small businesses.
Visit a page relevant to your line of work and you’ll see a similar structure throughout. For example, on the Data Security page, showcased at the top is featured guidance – our newest or most popular publications. These are informal staff brochures written in a get-to-the-point style for executives who put the busi- in business. Scroll down for more titles. Some offer basic advice to businesses of any size and in any sector. (Start with Security and Data Breach Response are two example.) Others focus on developing areas of the marketplace – like Careful Connections: Building Security in the Internet of Things and Mobile Health App Developers: FTC Best Practices. Scroll all the way down for videos, FTC-produced two-minute drills on timely topics.
The right side of each page has informative features, too. At the top are the five most recent ICYMI Business Blog posts related to the topic. Below that is the real treasure trove – Legal Resources. Looking for every data security case the FTC has brought in the past decade, a link to last week’s PrivacyCon 2018, or that ancient FTC report about “the wireless World Wide Web”? (Give us a break. It was 2002.) Legal Resources is where you’ll find it.
We’re often asked what kind of approval a company needs to link to our site or distribute FTC materials. The simple answer is none. The FTC’s website policy spells out the specifics, but it boils down to this: Just about everything on ftc.gov and business.ftc.gov is in the public domain and isn’t subject to copyright restrictions. We’re delighted when businesses, consumer advocates, government agencies, and others share our resources on their own sites or via social media.
Finally, if we’ve learned anything from advertisers in the past 103 years, it’s to listen to our target market. It’s only fitting that, as the FTC and our partners across the country join to celebrate the 20th National Consumer Protection Week, we ask you this question: What can we do to make the Business Center – and the next 1,000 Business Blog posts – responsive to your needs?