July 13, 2014
Partners Alysa Zeltzer Hutnik and John E. Villafranco were quoted in the Law360 article “Amazon's FTC Fight May Help E-Retailers, If Not Itself.” The article discusses how Amazon.com likely faces an uphill battle if it chooses to fight the Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit over in-app purchases made by children, but the case could provide e-retailers further guidance on the legal responsibilities companies have in monitoring online marketplaces.
Ms. Hutnik explains that questions remain as to how the agency's authority under the FTC Act applies to new technology, and the Amazon case will be one of several poised to test the limits of the agency's regulatory authority. “The issue of unauthorized charges is not a new one, and the FTC's long line of enforcement cases against payment processors reflects that point. But it is less clear as to what legal responsibilities an online platform or marketplace has in designing and overseeing such a marketplace.” Mr. Villafranco added that “Clearly, Amazon believes that the FTC overreached in applying its unfairness standard given the facts here, and that the company’s practices already meet or exceed the requirements in the Apple consent.”