April 11, 2008

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

AAF Submits Behavioral Advertising Guidelines Comments to FTC

The AAF has joined with a number of industry groups to submit comments on behavioral advertising guidelines proposed by the Federal Trade Commission, arguing that these self-regulatory principles must not limit consumer benefits. In arguing for the implementation of the principles, the commission has not articulated any concerns that behavioral advertising harms consumers. The AAF does not believe their proposal strikes an appropriate balance between restrictions on the use of the information and the benefits to consumers through the use of that information. Additionally, true self-regulation is developed by the affected industries, not the government. The full comments are available here. The FTC's proposed principles on online behavioral advertising are available here.
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Sen. Dorgan Introduces FTC Reauthorization Act

A bill introduced in the Senate could drastically increase the enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission, including increased civil penalties and harsher restrictions on intrastate and interstate telemarketing and the ability to "fast track" rulemaking decisions. The FTC Reauthorization Act of 2008 (S. 2831) was introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who chairs the Interstate Commerce, Trade and Tourism Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill would allow a majority of the commissioners to waive current rulemaking procedures in favor of a faster one that could result in hasty decisions without sufficient input and consideration by all interested parties. The comprehensive legislation would make it easier for states to expand Do-Not-Call regulations, repeal the telecommunications common carrier exemption and provide the FTC with the authority to litigate any civil action involving the Federal Trade Commission Act. The proposed changes would be funded by a 10 percent increase in the FTC's appropriations each year over the next seven years. Congress has not passed a FTC reauthorization bill since 1996.
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Reps. DeLauro and Schakowsky Call for FDA Side Effects Hotline

Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., have written a letter to the Food and Drug Administration urging the implementation of a proposal that all televised direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertisements include a phone number for consumers to report adverse side effects to the agency. Their letter cites a Consumer Reports survey saying that most respondents were unaware that side effects could be reported to the FDA. Congress already mandates that all print DTC ads contain FDA contact information and has called on the agency to investigate whether a similar requirement is needed for television ads.
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Majoras Resigns From FTC; Commissioner Kovacic Named Chairman

Following the resignation of Deborah Platt Majoras, President George W. Bush has named William E. Kovacic as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, effective June 1. Kovacic, a Republican, has been a commissioner at the agency since 2006 and as a result, does not need Senate confirmation to become chairman. The other commissioners are J. Thomas Rosch, a Republican, Pamela Jones Harbour, an independent, and Jon Leibowitz, a Democrat. The White House has not indicated whether it will nominate a new commissioner, who would face Senate confirmation.
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