“The Commission is hereby empowered and directed to prevent persons, partnerships, or corporations, [exceptions] from using unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.” 15 U.S.C. §45(a)(2)
“Commerce” means “commerce that may lawfully be regulated by Congress, e.g. interstate, DC, airwaves, Internet
FTC Action Against Deceptive and Unfair Business Practices
What’s “Deceptive”? What’s “Unfair”?
Deceptive. Likely to:
mislead consumers; and
affect consumers’ behavior or decisions about the product or service.
Unfair. The injury it causes, or is likely to cause, is:
States now enacting protective legislation dealing specifically with the Internet
California Business and Professions Code §§17530-17539.6
Real estate. “ It is unlawful … to make or disseminate any statement … over the Internet, in any language in this state, concerning … any real estate located in this state or elsewhere, which is known to be untrue and which is made or disseminated with the intention of misleading.”
Second-hand goods. “ It is unlawful … over the Internet to advertise, call attention to or give publicity to the sale of any merchandise, which merchandise is secondhand or used merchandise … unless there is conspicuously displayed … a direct and unequivocal statement … which will clearly indicate that the merchandise … is secondhand [or] used.
“ It is unlawful … for any person conducting sales or leases by … the Internet or other electronic means …, whether payment to the vendor is made directly, through the mail, by means of a transfer of funds from an account … or by any other means, and then permit 30 days, unless otherwise conspicuously stated in the offering or advertisement … to elapse without doing any one of the following things:
(1) Shipping, mailing, or providing the goods or services ordered
(2) Mailing a full refund
(3) [P]roposing the substitution of goods or services of equivalent or superior quality, and … offering to make a full refund … within one week if the buyer so requests …”
“ ‘ Internet’ means the global information system that is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP), or its subsequent extensions, and that is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite, or its subsequent extensions, or other IP-compatible protocols, and that provides, uses, or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described in this paragraph.”
Washington State: Unsolicited Commercial Email Act (1998)
Illegal to include false or misleading information in the subject line in any e-mail sent by a Washington resident or to a Washington resident’s e-mail address
Sender is assumed to know or have reason to know that a Washington resident is the recipient of such an e-mail if the information identifying the recipient as a Washington resident is available from the registrant of the domain name contained within the recipient’s e-mail address