Issuance of staff comments: The Commission has authorized the staffs of the Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Bureau of Economics to file comments with Illinois State Representative Angelo “Skip” Saviano regarding Illinois HB 0572, a bill designed to protect children from unwanted commercial messages that advertise products or services they are prohibited from buying or that contain adult advertising or links to adult content. The bill would require the Illinois attorney general to establish a Child Protection Registry and make it illegal for anyone to initiate a commercial message or communication to anyone on the Registry if the message advertises products or services a minor child cannot buy, contains adult content, or links to such content. Specifically, Rep. Saviano asked the FTC staff whether the bill would reduce the amount of unwanted e-mails (spam) and what impact it might have on the state’s consumers and competition.
According to the FTC staff’s comments, which can be found as a link to this press release on the Commission’s Web site, because existing computer security techniques are inadequate to prevent the abuse of such a registry, the bill may provide pedophiles and other dangerous people with a list of contact points for children in Illinois – exactly the opposite of its intent. In addition, the bill is unlikely to reduce the amount of spam received by people on the Registry, and may actually have the unintended consequence of increasing the amount of spam they receive, as it would provide spammers with a mechanism for verifying e-mail addresses. Finally, the proposed registry likely would impose substantial costs on legitimate e-mail marketers and could hamper competition by Internet merchants and cause consumers to no longer receive information they value.
The Commission vote authorizing the filing of the staff comments was 4-0. (FTC File No.V06000; the staff contacts are Maureen K. Ohlhausen, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2632; and Daniel R. Salsburg, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-3402.)
Publication of Federal Register notice: The Commission has approved the publication of an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to examine the effectiveness of the FTC’s Appliance Labeling Rule (16 C.F.R. Part 305). The notice will be published shortly and can be found on the Commission’s Web site as a link to this press release. As directed by Section 137 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the FTC has initiated this rulemaking to consider the effectiveness of the consumer products labeling program in assisting consumers in making purchasing decisions and improving energy efficiency. The Commission is seeking comments on a broad range of issues, including the design and content of the current EnergyGuide label and possible alternative label designs. As part of this rulemaking, the Commission is also conducting a review of the Rule's overall costs and benefits as part of the FTC’s ongoing review of its rules and guides. Comments are due to the FTC by January 13, 2006.
The Commission vote approving publication of the Federal Register notice was 4-0. (FTC File No.R511994; the staff contact is Hampton Newsome, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2889.)
Commission approval of final consent order: Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved the issuance of a final consent order in the matter concerning Penn National Gaming, Inc. and Argosy Gaming Company. The final order amended the proposed order accepted for public comment on July 26, 2005, to reflect changes in the timing of the acquisition and changes in the contracts divesting a casino in Baton Rouge, LA. The Commission vote to approve the final consent order was 4-0. (FTC File No.051-0029; Docket No. C-4143; the staff contact is Joseph Lipinsky, FTC Northwest Region, Seattle, 206-220-4473; see press release dated July 27, 2005.)
Copies of the documents mentioned in this release 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, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.