Most Internet marketing cases are handled by the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP). The BCP deals with consumer issues involving unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices.
There are seven regional Federal Trade Commission offices. The BCP works with each regional office to conduct investigations and to file lawsuits (more on this later).
The five BCP divisions most relevant to Internet marketing are:
1) Advertising Practices 2) Marketing Practices 3) Financial Practices 4) Privacy and Identity Protection 5) International 6) Enforcement.
If you’re doing business in the United States using the Internet, chances are the FTC has a legal basis for regulating what you do.
All it takes is a complaint by a consumer, a consumers’ rights organization, or even a
competitor, and suddenly the FTC is investigating your business to see if you have broken the law.
Here’s a recent example of an FTC action against Internet marketing practices. In November 2006, a company agreed to pay $50,717 to settle Federal Trade Commission claims that it violated the CAN-SPAM Act.
The company had sent out e-mail messages to consumers using an autoresponder. Unfortunately, spam-filtering software prevented the company from receiving opt-out/unsubscribe messages and the e-mails kept coming.
Because this had continued for more than 10 business days after the recipients asked the company to stop sending e-mails, the company violated the CAN-SPAM Act.