The FTC Collaboration Act: Benefits for the Business Community
On October 10, 2022, the FTC Collaboration Act of 2021 became law. The Act’s stated purpose is to enhance cooperation between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general (AGs) in combatting unfair and deceptive practices. The Act requires the FTC to complete a study and issue a public report based on that study. Throughout the summer, the FTC accepted comments from interested stakeholders on a series of questions related to the roles and responsibilities of the FTC and AGs that best advance collaboration and consumer protection, and how to dedicate resources and implement accountability mechanisms to fulfill those goals.
As former state enforcers with approximately 40 years working in key consumer protection roles at AG offices, we shared our unique perspectives with the FTC in written comments. The potential benefits to the business community when enforcers with overlapping authority work together may not be apparent. Indeed, one might think that such collaboration would lead to increased enforcement and oversight of businesses’ activities. However, it is our experience that such collaboration can actually help eliminate duplicative enforcement and allow for more streamlined communication between the business and enforcement communities. To that end, we recommend increased transparency between the FTC, AGs, and business community including greater insight into the complaints stored in the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel database. While politics is increasingly causing a split in the AG community, the AGs and FTC remain united on key consumer protection enforcement priorities, which we expect to continue. As such, we believe greater collaboration will help ensure a fair marketplace and level playing field for the legitimate business community.
Led by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Tennessee, a bipartisan group of 30 AGs also filed comments. The AGs note that the states, FTC, and other federal partners have worked together for decades to benefit businesses and individual consumers, and that the states benefit significantly from the FTC’s expertise, resources, and national reach, which facilitates cross-border enforcement. In regard to the Supreme Court’s AMG Capital Management, LLC vs. FTC decision, while some, including the authors of this blog, feel the AMG case is a nexus for collaboration between the states and the FTC, the AGs expressed concerns, pointing to the limitation on the FTC’s authority creating a risk of depriving victims of restitution in certain matters, as well as the potential loss of the FTC’s resources to deliver restitution to their residents.
Read our comments here: https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FTC-2023-0038-0005.