Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, highlighted the agency’s enforcement priorities at the National Advertising Division’s annual conference earlier this week. Key mentions included the following:
- Health Claims and Sensitive Populations – With health claims being a constant enforcement priority, Ms. Rich referenced cases involving cognition claims, alleged diabetes cures, and products that featured “gene-altering” claims. She noted that more cases involving products targeted to sensitive populations – including older consumers – are in the pipeline.
- Health Apps, Privacy and Data Security – As she has in prior testimony, Bureau Director Rich expressed concern about false cures featured on health apps and consumers’ growing interest in and use of health technology, and said that such products are a growing part of the FTC’s advertising program. Consistent with these statements, Ms. Rich also encouraged companies offering fitness devices, wearable technology, and other internet of things (IoT) products to figure out how to provide adequate privacy choices for consumers. Related to this, Ms. Rich highlighted the TrendNet and ASUSTek cases involving data security breaches and IoT products. She also noted that there are a number of investigations underway.
- Homeopathics – In September 2015, the FTC hosted a workshop on homeopathic products and claims. Ms. Rich stated that substantive guidance on this topic will be released in the near future.
- ROSCA – Consistent with the FTC’s interest in ensuring adequate disclosures in advertising, Ms. Rich noted that enforcement of the Restore Online Shoppers Confidence Act (ROSCA) is ongoing and that more cases are in the pipeline. One of these is the FTC’s case against DIRECTV, which we wrote about here, in which the court recently found a triable issue of fact relative to the use of hyperlinks and info-hovers.
We will be following all of these developments closely.