International Monthly: November 2017

 U.S. Competition, Consumer Protection and Privacy News


Consumer Protection and Privacy

privacy shield logo

Acting FTC Chairman Ohlhausen Issues Statement on First Annual Review of EU-U.S.-Privacy Shield

Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issued a statement regarding the release of a European Commission report on the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. “We welcome the positive outcome of the first EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Annual Review. Enforcing international privacy frameworks such as Privacy Shield is an integral part of our Privacy and Data Security program . . . .” Click the link above for the full statement and a link to relevant cases.

coppa audio


FTC Provides Additional Guidance on COPPA and Voice Recordings

The FTC will not take enforcement action under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule against operators of commercial websites or online services who fail to obtain parental consent before collecting an audio file with the voice of a child under 13 in certain limited circumstances. These circumstances are that the recording is collected solely as a replacement of written words, such as to perform a search or to fulfill a verbal instruction or request, and that it is held for a brief time and only for that purpose.



ALJ Upholds FTC’s Anticompetitive Agreement Complaint against 1-800 Contacts

FTC Administrative Law Judge Chappell upheld an FTC complaint against 1-800 Contacts. The ALJ ruled that the FTC proved that the largest online retailer of contact lenses in the United States unlawfully orchestrated a web of anticompetitive agreements with rival online contact lens sellers, restricting the availability of truthful advertising to consumers. The decision is subject to review by the full Commission on the Commission’s own initiative or at the request of any party.

net neutrality testimony

FTC Testifies on Net Neutrality

FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen and Commissioner Terrell McSweeny testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law and provided a written statement on the role of antitrust enforcement in the debate over network neutrality.

In Other News

microeconomics cut n paste

FTC Holds Tenth Annual Microeconomics Conference

On November 2 and 3, the FTC Bureau of Economics hosted its Tenth Annual Microeconomics Conference, which brought together scholars working in areas related to the FTC’s antitrust, consumer protection, and public policy missions. Event details and materials are available at the link above.

economic liberty

FTC Holds Second Economic Liberty Public Roundtable

The FTC’s Economic Liberty Task Force held its second roundtable in Washington, DC on November 7 to examine empirical evidence on the effects of occupational licensing. The roundtable focused on the ability of empirical research to clarify costs and benefits, and to better inform policy makers’ discussions of occupational licensing reform.

FTC Staff Supports Certificate of Need (CON) Application

FTC staff submitted comments supporting a Certificate of Need (CON) application in Georgia to foster hospital competition in a region where competition is lacking. State CON requirements typically require healthcare providers to obtain state approval before expanding, establishing new facilities or services, or making certain large capital expenditures.

airline ticket comparison shop

FTC Publishes Blog with Guidance on Shopping for Airfare Deals

The FTC has published a blog with tips to consumers deciding whether to book a flight directly on an airline’s website or through a site that offers comparison of costs across multiple airlines. The tips help weigh the options and avoid surprises such as fees that are not included or cost more than the airline would charge or reservations for which tickets are not actually issued.

FTC image edit

FTC Invites Applications to Its International Fellows Program

Since 2007, the FTC has hosted 74 foreign government colleagues from 33 countries in its International Fellows Program. Fellows join teams of FTC lawyers, economists and investigators working on investigations and cases, usually for three months. Thirty-three foreign government colleagues have come to the Commission for shorter periods in the related SAFE WEB Interns Program. Applications are now being accepted for 2018.

President Announces Intent to Nominate New FTC Chairman and Commissioner

The President announced that he intends to nominate Joseph Simons as Chairman of the FTC and Rohit Chopra as a Commissioner. Simons is currently a partner at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and was the Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition from 2001 until 2003. Chopra is currently a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America and served at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2010-2015. Both nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate.