The Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 (H.R. 4341), introduced on March 27th, would mandate that the FTC create appropriate regulations to reduce the use (in advertising for commercial products) of images that have been altered in a way that “materially change[s] the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies” of any persons depicted in such images. The bill was introduced in response to concerns that digitally-altered images perpetuate unrealistic standards and expectations related to beauty and body image, and have negative health effects on consumers (particularly teenagers).
Under the Act, the FTC would have 18 months to submit to Congress a report which contains: (1) a strategy to reduce the use of altered images, and (2) recommendations for an appropriate framework for regulating such use. The Act specifically directs the FTC to seek input from third-party “experts and stakeholders” before compiling its report, including experts from the physical and mental health, business, and consumer advocacy communities.
It is unclear from the text of the Act whether the “experts and stakeholders” would include representatives from the advertising and creative arts communities, which would undoubtedly be affected by any restrictive legislation in this area. Under Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. §45), the FTC is already empowered to prohibit the use of deceptive advertising methods, including the deceptive use photos or special effects to sell products.