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The Small Screen Challenge and the FTC’s Long Awaited Update to its “Dot Com Disclosures”

June 26, 2013

In 2009, the Canadian Competition Bureau released its Enforcement Guidelines, Application of the Competition Act to Representations on the Internet http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03134.html, which provide guidance for making the required disclosures and relying on disclaimers online, among other things.  Since then, the smart phone and mobile devices have become common place, and many companies struggle to fulfill regulatory requirements on the small screen and in social media.

In response to this struggle, the US Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released updated “Dot Com Disclosures” in March 2013,which provide helpful guidance on how to respond to the small screen challenge and give consumers meaningful disclosures in social media.

The updated “Dot Com Disclosures” addresses new legal and technological issues, including advertising on social media platforms and space constrained screens. In practice, the updated “Dot Com Disclosures” describes the information that businesses should consider as they develop ads for online media to ensure that they comply with the law. It also clarifies that the FTC Act’s prohibition on deceptive or unfair practices encompasses online advertising, marketing, and sales. Most importantly, the updated “Dot Com Disclosures” comes with a 26-page appendix, which includes examples of Do’s and Don’ts in commercial websites, Internet ads, social media, and blogs. Click here for a copy of the updated Dot Com Disclosures.

While the guidelines are not binding in Canada, they are likely to become a useful resource to Canadian companies when advertising online.

Sources :
- http://www.ftc.gov/os/2013/03/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
- http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/05/dotcom.shtm
- http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/dotcomdisclosures/index.shtm
- http://www.ftc.gov/os/2011/05/110526dotcomecomments.pdf
 

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