Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz today issued the FTC’s 2010 Annual Report at the American Bar Association’s Section of Antitrust Law Spring Meeting in Washington, highlighting the agency’s increased efforts to protect financially distressed consumers and promote competition during the economic downturn.
“This past year the financial downturn has presented huge challenges for many Americans--and for the FTC,” Leibowitz said. "The agency has responded by working harder than ever to bring enforcement actions to protect consumers and promote competition."
The 2010 report, available on the Commission’s website at http://www.ftc.gov/reports/index.shtm, describes the FTC’s accomplishments during the previous year, including:
- Stopping fraudulent financial schemes that exploit consumers who are particularly vulnerable as a result of the economic downturn. For example, the FTC led four federal-state enforcement sweeps to stamp out scams that target financially distressed Americans, such as mortgage modification and foreclosure “rescue” scams and bogus money-making schemes. These enforcement actions collectively involved 387 actions and dozens of federal and state agencies.
- Promoting competition in the health care marketplace. The FTC continued to challenge anticompetitive “pay-for-delay” patent settlements between brand-name and generic drug companies that keep lower-cost generic drugs off the market. The FTC also brought cases to block several major health care mergers and preserve competition in the markets for innovative products, such as plasma-derivative protein therapies and a life-saving heart device.
- Initiating a series of public roundtables to explore the challenges posed to consumer privacy by 21st century technologies that collect and use consumer data, such as social networking, cloud computing, online behavioral advertising, and mobile marketing.
- Taking action to preserve competition in technology markets. The Commission filed a complaint against computer chip maker Intel Corp., charging that it has used its dominant position to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly. It also raised competition concerns about interlocking directorates on the boards of Google Inc. and Apple Inc., causing some board members to step down from the boards of one of the companies.
- Filing lawsuits to stop millions of unwanted, prerecorded robocalls that were designed to deceive consumers into buying so-called extended auto warranties and worthless interest rate reduction programs.
- Updating the 1992 Horizontal Merger Guidelines, which are used to evaluate the likely competitive effects of mergers and whether those mergers comply with U.S. antitrust law. In partnership with the Department of Justice, the FTC held a series of joint public workshops and proposed a set of revisions designed to update the Guidelines and make them more transparent.
- Holding a series of workshops examining the future of the news media, and economic and policy issues relevant to how journalism will survive in the Internet age.