The resolutions approved by the FTC are intended to facilitate “efficient” and “expedited” investigations of potential consumer harms, including “rapid response” to allegations of consumer protection violations. The FTC is among other agencies with a high focus on consumer protection matters, including the FDA, NHTSA, and CFPB. Regardless of industry, companies should anticipate much more rigor in supervision, litigation, and enforcement on these matters. Companies should be prepared to conduct assessments of their consumer protection practices to identify process and product enhancement, remediate potential instances of consumer harm, and strengthen ongoing identification and measurement of risks.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted to approve a series of eight resolutions that authorize agency staff to investigate and initiate enforcement activity in specific areas of consumer protection and competition under the FTC’s jurisdiction.
More specifically, the approved resolutions authorize the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Bureau of Competition, for a period of ten years, to investigate harmful practices, including responding to allegations of abuse or fraud, related to:
- Acts or practices affecting United States Armed Forces Service Members and Veterans
- Acts or practices affecting children under 18
- Bias in algorithms and biometrics
- Deceptive and manipulative conduct on the Internet
- Repair restrictions
- Abuse of intellectual property
- Common directors and officers and common ownership
- Monopolization offenses.
Agency staff is authorized to use “compulsory process” as part of the investigations into these priority areas; compulsory process refers to the issuance of demands for documents and testimony, through the use of civil investigative demands and subpoenas.