The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced the update of its “Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising” to reflect the online world’s dramatic changes, and is seeking comments from marketers, consumer advocates.
The guidance document, first issued in 2000, advises businesses on how federal advertising law applies to advertising and sales on the Internet.
“Since the FTC staff published Dot Com Disclosures, mobile marketing has become a reality, the ‘App’ economy has emerged, the use of ‘pop-up blockers’ has become widespread, and online social networking has emerged and grown popular,” explained FTC.
“In seeking public comment on possible revisions to the guidance document, the staff is interested in the technical and legal issues that marketers, consumer advocates, and others believe should be addressed.”
Public comment is welcomed for 45 days through July 11, 2011 and is available here.
Making your voice heard
Leading dietary supplement trade associations have welcomed the comment period: Cara Welch, PhD, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the Natural Products Association (NPA) told NutraIngredients-USA that it is “crucial for the dietary supplement industry to make their voice heard to the FTC regarding disclosures in online advertising.
“This industry has been intimately involved in online retail for a number of years and it is only increasing.
“The FTC is requesting comments and the industry should take the opportunity to engage the FTC in discussing both the current guidance and what the industry thinks the next iteration should reflect.
“NPA is currently exploring what topics should be emphasized for our comments,” she added.
Duffy MacKay; ND, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) said that it was hard to argue that it’s not reasonable to update an 11 year old guidance document, particularly one focused on the internet.
Dr MacKay added that it was particularly important for mobile applications and how disclosures would work with such devices. “If the disclosure has to be in one inch letters, for example, then that’s your whole screen,” he observed.
Commenting on whether CRN would engage directly in the initial comment period, Dr MacKAy said the association would poll its members and then decide whether to engage now or wait for the draft guidance document.
“All industries that use the internet for advertizing should pay attention to this update,” he added.