Leading questions?

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It’s a common occurrence. People looking online for a product or service – say, a loan or an educational program – find themselves on a site that asks for their personal information. The idea is that consumers will be connected with a company in that business. That exchange of information might offer an easy way to put buyers and sellers together. But sometimes the data wends its way through multiple hands before reaching the business selling what the consumer is looking for. In the meantime, another “product” has been created: consumers’ personal information enhanced with the commercially valuable nugget that they’re in the market for a particular product. The online lead generation business is built on what some call “commoditizing” consumers’ information – and it’s the subject of Follow the Lead: An FTC Workshop About Online Lead Generation, set for Friday, October 30, 2015.

Internet lead generation is a dynamic industry and the FTC wants to explore the consumer protection ramifications:

  • How does online lead generation work? Does it vary depending on the industry?
  • When consumers make that initial inquiry, are they aware of the nature of the transaction? Do they know what’s going on behind the scenes?
  • How are companies handling consumers’ personal data?
  • How does Section 5 of the FTC Act apply?
  • Are there best practices for businesses that generate and sell consumer leads?

Those are just some of the topics up for discussion at the workshop.

Interested in sharing research, volunteering as a panelist, or suggesting possible agenda topics? Email us by August 25th at leadgen@ftc.gov.  We also welcome your comments on the public record, which will remain open until December 20th. Save a step by filing them online.

Follow the Lead will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center conference venue, located at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, D.C. The workshop is free and open to the public.

Mark your calendar for October 30th and watch for updates about the agenda.


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