On July 17, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen announced process reforms designed to reduce burden and improve transparency in investigations conducted by its Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP). The initiative, which is part of the FTC’s reform efforts announced in April of this year, is designed to “protect consumers and promote competition without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” To streamline information requests for CIDs in consumer protection cases, the BCP intends to:
- Provide plain language descriptions of the CID process and develop business education materials to help small businesses understand how to comply;
- Add detailed descriptions of the scope and purpose of investigations to assist companies in better understanding the information the FTC seeks;
- Limit relevant time periods to minimize undue burden on companies when possible;
- Significantly reduce the length and complexity of CID instructions for providing electronically stored data; and
- Increase response times (for example, 21 days to 30 days for targets, and 14 days to 21 days for third parties) to improve the quality and timeliness of compliance by recipients.
BCP will continue its current practice of communicating with investigation targets at least every six months once the CID has been complied with to provide investigation status updates.