The Federal Trade Commission issued a report examining ways to enhance cooperation between the FTC and overseas competition and consumer protection authorities in order to maximize the effectiveness of the FTC’s enforcement efforts.
The report cites expert testimony from hearings the Commission convened in March 2019, held in conjunction with the George Washington University’s Competition Law Center, which stressed the importance of obtaining and sharing information quickly and efficiently in cross-border antitrust investigations.
“I commend staff on their work to issue a report on The FTC’s Role in a Changing World,” said Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter. “International cooperation on enforcement can strengthen all the agencies involved, so we must continue to prioritize the importance of working hand-in-hand with our counterparts across the globe.”
While the FTC has entered into competition cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with many countries and agencies around the world, the report notes that most of these agreements do not enable authorities to share confidential information or use domestic investigative tools to provide assistance to the other country’s agency. The report recommends that the FTC work to overcome foreign barriers to FTC enforcement.
The report also notes that the Commission has used its SAFE WEB Act authority in a wide range of cases—from Internet pyramid schemes and sweepstakes telemarketing schemes, to complex advertising and privacy investigations. Congress reauthorized the Act earlier this year, but the reauthorization included a seven-year sunset provision. Noting the critical importance of the continuity of this authority, the report recommends that Congress make its provisions a permanent part of the FTC Act.
The report also cites expert testimony from the hearing recognizing the FTC’s leadership in supporting antitrust enforcement internationally, including the Commission’s role in the International Competition Network (ICN), a network of almost all of the world’s competition agencies. Panelists at the hearing “urged the FTC to build on its work promoting international convergence and developing strong enforcement cooperation partnerships by engaging directly with the leadership and staff of its foreign counterparts in new ways,” the report notes.
The report also recommends that the Commission’s experience and expertise should inform U.S. government policies that involve international issues within the FTC’s mandate.
The March 2019 hearings were part of Chairman Joseph Simons’ FTC Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.
The Commission voted 4-0 to approve the report.
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