May 2011

Time to kick the tires on the FTC’s Alternative Fuels Rule

We’re still waiting for George Jetson’s promised jetpacks, but car buyers have started to see transportation options not available just a few years ago.  That’s one reason the FTC has begun a review the Alternative Fuels Rule and seeks your input about the rule’s costs, benefits, and regulatory and economic impact.

Dot Com 2.0 (Does anybody say 2.0 anymore?)

Where were you in 2000?  Tooling around on your scooter listening to CDs by Destiny’s Child, ‘N Sync, and Creed?  Joining the 50 million Americans who watched the latest TV sensation “Survivor”?  Grateful the Y2K bug didn’t send us back to the Stone Age?  Reading Dot Com Disclosures:  Information About Online Advertising, the FTC’s first guidance document on how federal advertising laws apply to advertising and sales on the Internet?

Free means free, says the FTC

You can swim freestyle.  You can work freelance.  And there are those among us who still hold up lighters and yell “Play Free Bird.”  But for marketers, one thing you can’t do is advertise a product as free and then bill customers’ credit cards — not once and certainly not over and over and over again.

Missed myths

But wait!  There's more!  In addition to the myths about the rulemaking process in the last post, others have suggested misconceptions to include on the list.

“Let the lawyers handle the comments.”  Not necessarily.  Legal perspectives add to the conversation, of course, but just about every FTC staffer who’s worked on a rulemaking has a story to tell about a practical point raised by a business person or consumer that led to a change in the final rule.

Six myths about filing comments with the FTC

You’ve seen the sentence when the FTC announces that it’s thinking about putting a new rule in place or changing what’s already on the books: “Interested parties are invited to submit comments. . . .”.  The alphabet soup of the administrative process can be a bit daunting at first: ANPR (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), FRN (Federal Register Notice), CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), SBP (Statement of Basis and Purpose). When it comes to the rulemaking process at the FTC, here are six common myths — and the straight scoop.

Is everything COPPA-setic on your site?

For some businesses, virtual worlds aren’t on their radar screen.  They have their hands full with this one, thanks.  But for more and more people — including kids — online virtual worlds have become a central place for gaming and other activities.  As the FTC’s recent $3 million settlement with Playdom and Howard Marks demonstrates, companies with an online presence need to take care to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the

Marketing food to kids: Continuing the conversation

By now, you’ve had a chance to read the proposed voluntary principles published on April 28, 2011, by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children.  Made up of representatives from the FTC, FDA, USDA, and CDC, the group issued a draft calling on the food industry voluntarily to step up its efforts to improve the nutritional quality of foods they market directly to kids ages 2 to 17.  The proposal — which isn’t a regulation — suggests ways to strengthen the voluntary efforts that are already underway.

Nitro in the trunk?

The French movie classic “The Wages of Fear” — remade in 1977 as “The Sorcerer” by American director William Friedkin — was a taut thriller about a team of toughs transporting a payload of volatile nitroglycerine to a remote location in South America.  They meet with hazards along the way:  a rope bridge hanging by a thread over a flood-swollen river, a boulder blocking a twisted mountain path, and a stretch of road so pot-holed it’s called “The Washboard.”

Taken aback by a hack attack?

Busy business executives and the attorneys who represent them need to unwind now and then.  If PlayStation is your diversion-of-choice — or the choice of family members — you’ve probably heard the news that Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity service were hacked and that user data may have been compromised.  It’s not clear right now what info was stolen, but the services held user IDs and passwords, email addresses, birth dates, street addresses, credit card numbers, expiration dates, and payment histories.  Are you taking steps to reduce the risk of ID theft as a result of the hack?  H