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Ad Groups' Lobbying Helps Stop Bill From Broadening FTC Powers - Broadcasting & Cable

Ad Groups' Lobbying Helps Stop Bill From Broadening FTC Powers

Senate strips out authority on rulemaking, fines from legislation's final version
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The Assocation of National Advertisers, Interactive Advertising Bureau
and others scored a big victory in preventing a financial services bill
from granting broad new powers to the Federal Trade Commission.

That
came after Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), speaking for the Senate
conferees on the bill, this week, said that the issues would need to be
resolved outside of the financial services bill, according to an ANA
update on its Web site.

The House version of the bill contained the
beefed-up powers for the Federal Trade Commission, which chairman Jon
Leibowitz said the commission would use judiciously. That would have
included new rulemaking authority, fining authority, and the ability to
go after aiding and abetting. The Senate version didn't and now the
final version doesn't either, according to the Center for Digital
Democracy's Jeff Chester, who said the conference process wrapped up
Friday morning with a version of the bill that does not contain the
provisions.

"[The] online ad lobby--working with Chamber of
Commerce--scored a major victory by forcing Conference committee to drop
provisions strengthening FTC," said Chester. "Marketers and advertisers are celebrating their win -- which
keeps the FTC on a weakened political leash. While consumer protection
is significantly expanded because of the CFPB [Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau] and new financial rules, the FTC is to remain largely
hamstrung."

Advertisers argue that the FTC would get new powers to
write industry-wide rules with "virtually no procedural safeguards," and
to impose "multi-million dollar civil penalties independent of the
Justice Department. Since the FTC has jurisdiction over most of the
economy, these changes could hurt jobs and the sale of products
throughout the country," said ANA in a letter to Dodd last month.

Leibowitz

said two weeks ago that the FTC had no planned rulemakings teed up.

But

ad lobbies put on a full court press. In addition to ANA's letter to
Dodd, it sent another letter along with 46 other organizations
(including the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the American Association
of Advertising Agencies, and the Digital Marketing Association) to every
conferee on the bill pushing for the Senate bill because of the absence
of the FTC provisions.

Chester had been hoping the empowered FTC
would be better able to protect online privacy, but points out that at
least he will now have to places to take complaint: the FTC and CFPB. He
also said he would try to get the issue addressed in the planned
rewrite of the Telecommunications Act launched by top House and Senate
Democrats to update it in light of the rise of broadband.

A series of
meetings on the Hill about updating telecom legislation began Friday
with a look at the FCC's current authority, which was called into
question by the BitTorrent decision.

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