After more than a decade of relative inactivity, the Federal Trade Commission has once again become active in the regulation of advertising. The commission has shown particular interest in cracking down on misleading advertising in areas such as health, nutrition, weight loss, and environmental claims as well as advertising directed to children and the elderly.59 The FTC has also become more involved with potential fraud and deception through various other promotional methods such as telemarketing, 900 numbers, infomercials, and the Internet. In addition to monitoring deceptive claims made over the Internet, the FTC has become very involved in privacy issues and the collection of personal information on websites.
Robert Pitofsky, who served as FTC chairman during the Clinton administration, focused the commission's attention on developing new policies, particularly as the growth of the Internet created the need for laws and regulations regarding online privacy and ways of protecting children online. However, under the Bush administration the FTC is focusing its attention on the enforcement of existing regulations, particularly in areas such as telemarketing and Internet privacy.60 Tim Murris, who took over as FTC chairman in 2001, has expressed concern about marketers that significantly alter privacy policies after consumers log on to their websites. The FTC also plans to eliminate false e-mail advertising and has stepped up its enforcement against senders of deceptive or misleading claims via e-mail. 1 The commission also is scrutinizing the use of testimonial ads more carefully, particularly with respect to the use of a "results not typical" disclosure in situations where the outcomes are more likely to vary substantially than be typical for most consumers.62
While the FTC is the major regulator of advertising for products sold in interstate commerce, several other federal agencies and departments also regulate advertising and promotion.
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