FTC, OECD Announce New Policymaking Guide To Help Consumer and Regulatory Authorities Around the World

FTC Hosts Roundtable Discussion Featuring U.S. Ambassador to OECD

For Release

The Federal Trade Commission today hosted a roundtable presentation of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s just-published Consumer Policy Toolkit at FTC headquarters.  This publication will help government policy makers around the world who strive to protect and empower consumers in an increasingly complex global marketplace.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz provided introductory remarks at the roundtable, which was open to the public.  U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh discussed the relevance of the guide for U.S. policy makers.  OECD Director of Science, Technology, and Industry, Andrew Wyckoff, also discussed the guide.

The United States is a founding member of the OECD, which is the pre-eminent international forum in which market economies committed to democracy can grapple with economic, social, and governance issues.  The FTC serves as the lead U.S. agency to the OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy.

The Consumer Policy Toolkit provides advice for consumer protection authorities and other regulators to help them determine where markets may be failing consumers, and what steps they can take in response.  This guide outlines a comprehensive six-step process for choosing the best consumer protection policies, and describes a range of policy options that government officials can use to address consumer problems.  Included in the publication are examples drawn from the experiences of more than 20 countries.

Today’s consumers face unique opportunities – and challenges –from a broader range of increasingly complex products, more global trade, and the development of the Internet.

“The Toolkit will help consumer protection authorities make well-informed policies to protect consumers from unfair practices in the modern marketplace,” said FTC Chairman Leibowitz.  “It will also be a valuable resource for those setting policy for finance, telecommunications, food, drug, and product safety matters.”                                                                                                                                 
“Consumers have more choices than ever before but they often don’t know whom to trust.  The U.S. was pleased to work with the OECD on this Toolkit to help governments empower and protect today’s consumers,” said Ambassador Kornbluh.  “The U.S. is pioneering new ways to empower and protect consumers and we are pleased that the OECD Consumer Policy Toolkit will help all countries adopt best practices.”‪

Government authorities often are under pressure to act quickly on consumer issues.  But deciding what to do has become more difficult because of increasingly complex markets and rapidly evolving business practices – such as those found in electronic commerce.  Policy makers must also keep abreast of developments in behavioral and information economics, as well as new approaches to regulation and enforcement.  This policy making guide addresses these challenges.

The OECD Committee on Consumer Policy already is using this policy making guide to help strengthen consumer protections in electronic commerce, as well as to analyze environmental marketing claims and consumer issues with emerging mobile and online payment systems.

An executive summary of the Consumer Policy Toolkit and a brochure about it can be found as links to this press release and on the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov.  The Consumer Policy Toolkit can be found under the “look inside” button at http://www.oecdbookshop.org/oecd/display.asp?sf1=identifiers&st1=9789264079656.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

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