First Apple, now Amazon: Where is the FTC Heading on Digital Consumer Protection?
The Federal Trade Commission’s recent enforcement actions against Amazon and Apple raise important questions about the FTC’s consumer protection practices, especially its use of economics. How does the Commission weigh the costs and benefits of its enforcement decisions? How does the agency employ economic analysis in digital consumer protection cases generally?
Join TechFreedom and the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE) on Thursday, July 31 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for a lunch and panel discussion on these important issues, featuring Martin Gaynor, current Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics, and former FTC officials. RSVP here.
FTC Commissioner Joshua Wright will present a keynote address explaining his unprecedented dissent in Apple and his approach to applying economics in consumer protection cases generally. Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of ICLE, will then present a paper on the role of economics in the FTC’s consumer protection enforcement. Berin Szoka, TechFreedom President, will then moderate a free-flowing conversation featuring:
- Martin Gaynor, Director, FTC Bureau of Economics
- David Balto, Fmr. Deputy Assistant Director, FTC Office of Policy and Evaluation
- Howard Beales, Fmr. Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection
- Pauline Ippolito, Fmr. Deputy Director & Acting Director, FTC Bureau of Economics
- James Cooper, Fmr. Deputy Director & Acting Director, FTC Office of Policy Planning
The FTC recently issued a complaint and consent order against Apple, alleging its in-app purchasing design doesn’t meet the Commission’s standards of fairness. The action and resulting settlement drew a forceful dissent from Commissioner Wright, and sparked a discussion among the Commissioners about balancing economic harms and benefits in Section 5 unfairness jurisprudence. More recently, the FTC brought a similar action against Amazon, which is now pending in federal district court because Amazon refused to settle.
The “FTC: Technology and Reform” project brings together a unique collection of experts on the law, economics, and technology of competition and consumer protection to consider challenges facing the FTC in general, and especially regarding its regulation of technology. The Project’s initial report, released in December 2013, identified critical questions facing the agency, Congress, and the courts about the FTC’s future, and proposed a framework for addressing them.
Thursday, July 31
11:30am – 12:15pm — Lunch and registration
12:15pm – 2:15pm — Keynote address followed by a panel discussion
- Geoffrey Manne’s oral remarks and written Congressional testimony on the the FTC@100
- Op-ed by Berin Szoka and Geoffrey Manne, “The Second Century of the Federal Trade Commission”
TechFreedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology policy think tank. We work to chart a path forward for policymakers towards a bright future where technology enhances freedom, and freedom enhances technology.
About The International Center for Law and Economics:
The International Center for Law and Economics is a non-profit, non-partisan research center aimed at fostering rigorous policy analysis and evidence-based regulation.