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FTC Signals Online DisclosureGuideline Update

The Federal Trade Commission is
looking to revise its disclosure guidance for online advertising.

FTC staffers have put out a
request for comments on what changes it could or should make to the "Dot
Com Disclosures" guidelines it issued back in May of 2000.

The goal of those guidelines was
to "provide clear and conspicuous disclosures of information that
consumers needed in order to make informed decisions about goods and services
being offered on the Internet."

But the world has changed
dramatically since then. "Eleven years ago, mobile marketing was just a
vision, there was not an "App" economy, the use of "pop-up blockers" was not
widespread, and online social networking was nowhere as sophisticated or
extensive as it is today," said the FCC in proposing it might be time to
update the guides.

The issues of wired and wireless
online targeted marketing and disclosure are hot topics of late as both the FTC
and Justice Department work on new self-enforcement regimes to protect data
privacy and give online consumers more control over their information and
online experience, like opting in or out of certain targeted ads based on
online activity.

Among the questions the FTC wants
answered include how the guidelines should change to reflect various new
technologies and activities, how screen size of new mobile devices affects
disclosures, what new online advertising research should be included in any
review, and the effect of new selling techniques like Web site operators
compensated for referring consumers to other sites that offer products.

The FTC wants to hear from
interested parties by July 11.