The FTC continues to lead efforts to promote convergence toward sound and effective antitrust enforcement internationally. The FTC co-leads the ICN’s Agency Effectiveness Working Group and its Investigative Process Project, which has focused on transparency in competition investigations. The FTC also leads the Curriculum Project, which produced new video training modules on the analysis of competitive effects, leniency programs, merger analysis, and predatory pricing.
The Agency also deepened its bilateral relations over the course of the year. The FTC and DOJ entered into a MOU with the Indian competition authorities, providing for increased cooperation and mechanisms to further strengthen relations among the agencies. In September 2012, the FTC and DOJ met with the three Chinese anti-monopoly agencies under our MOU to discuss enforcement and policy issues. The FTC’s network of formal and informal arrangements enables it to cooperate in merger and conduct cases such as Vivendi/EMI and Google.
Continuing its robust program of international competition and consumer protection technical assistance, the Commission conducted 38 missions in 19 countries, including China, India, South Africa, Morocco, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Russia. In addition, through its innovative International Fellows and Interns program, the FTC hosted consumer protection and competition officials from 12 countries.
Privacy is at the forefront of international consumer protection issues. As the European Union and its member countries and agencies in developing economies wrestle with designing and implementing privacy laws, the FTC continues to contribute to the dialogue. In July, the FTC became the first enforcement authority in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules System, a self-regulatory initiative to enhance the protection of consumer data that moves between the U.S. and other APEC members through a voluntary but enforceable code of conduct adopted by participating businesses. In November, the FTC hosted a forum of domestic and international privacy experts to explore the use of similar enforceable industry codes of conduct to protect consumers in cross-border commerce.
Recognizing the continuing challenge of cross-border fraud and the FTC’s ongoing efforts to combat it, Congress recently reauthorized the US SAFE WEB Act. The Act, which enables the agency both to share information with foreign law enforcement agencies and to obtain information on their behalf, is vital to strengthening the culture of mutual assistance that enables law enforcers to achieve greater results working together than they could alone. One example of this cooperation is the six cases the FTC filed this year against mostly foreign-based operators of a massive tech support scam. The FTC used its US SAFE WEB Act tools to work with law enforcers in Australia, Canada and the U.K., among other countries who provided invaluable assistance to the FTC. Australia and Canada also brought administrative actions for violations of their Do Not Call laws.