The Federal Trade Commission and the United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry and United Kingdom Office of Fair Trading announced today that representatives of the three organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate enhanced law enforcement cooperation in the consumer protection area between the United States and the United Kingdom. The signing occurred in Washington, D.C. during the three-day meeting of the International Marketing Supervision Network (IMSN), an organization of the consumer protection authorities from 29 countries, and representatives from the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The FTC and Commissioner Mozelle W. Thompson are serving as host and president of the IMSN, and this is the first year the organization has met in the United States. The main objective of the IMSN is to improve information sharing and cooperation among international law enforcement agencies to prevent and redress deceptive marketing practices with an international component.
With the emergence of the Internet, consumers are engaging in cross-border transactions more extensively than ever, and there is consequently a greater need for cross-border law enforcement cooperation, as acknowledged in the OECD Guidelines on Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce. The FTC is working to strengthen international efforts to better combat fraudulent, misleading and unfair commercial conduct through organizations such as the IMSN and agreements like the MOU signed today.
This MOU strengthens the close relationship between the two nations, providing for enhanced cooperation between both countries on consumer protection matters. This is a "best efforts" agreement that is not legally binding and would not change existing law in either country.
Key provisions of the MOU include the following:
- Notification of Enforcement Activities: The FTC and UK agencies would use their best efforts to notify each other of consumer protection enforcement activities that might affect the agencies' mutual interest.
- Cooperation and Coordination: The agencies would use their best efforts, where appropriate and consistent with national law, to assist each other in gathering information and coordinating law enforcement activities.
- Exchange of Information: The MOU encourages the exchange of consumer protection information for law enforcement purposes consistent with national laws and rules.
The Commission vote to approve the agreement was 5-0.
Copies of the agreement are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies worldwide.
(FTC Matter No. P994313 )
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