It looks like the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is going to be gridlocked with a 2-2 tie between Democrat and Republican appointees for a while.
Republicans in Congress have no plans to let President Obama appoint a tie-breaking fifth commissioner. This is not surprising when the administration has aggressively used regulatory agencies to affect commerce in ways never contemplated by the underlying legislation being enforced.
Why is this good for your business online?
A gridlocked FTC is more likely to focus on enforcing existing regulations covering ecommerce instead of coming up with new regulatory schemes that burden your business.
If the FTC enforced what’s already on the books, there are plenty of ways to go after false and deceptive trade practices online to protect consumers.
Will this gridlock be broken?
Yes…when the Obama administration gives an enticing carrot to congressional Republicans in exchange for getting a fifth commissioner appointed. That may not even occur in 2013. Until an appointment deal is reached, there’s likely to be a period of stability where the FTC’s consumer protection rules don’t significantly change.
What can a gridlocked FTC do?
The promotion of Commissioner Edith Ramirez to FTC Chairwoman means an increased focus on Internet privacy rights. This means you should review your ecommerce privacy practices with your Internet lawyer to ensure you’re complying with the law.