Press Release

Rep. Castor Introduces 21st Century FTC Act

Legislation would better protect consumers from bad actors

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Washington, July 16, 2021 | comments

Today U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) introduced the 21st Century FTC Act, legislation that would give the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking authority and first offense civil penalty authority.

“For too long, the FTC has been hamstrung in its ability to promulgate effective rules of the road for consumers and penalize companies that harm our friends and neighbors. This bill will ensure that the FTC has all the tools it needs to protect Americans from scam artists and bad actors in an increasingly online world,” said Rep. Castor.

Supporting organizations include: Center for Digital Democracy, Common Sense, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Fairplay, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, Truthinadvertising.org, and U.S. Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG).

“We applaud Congresswoman Castor’s bill, which would update the FTC's authority to deter scams and rip-offs with appropriate penalties and would modernize the agency’s process for issuing consumer protections in the same way other federal agencies are able to do,” said Christine Hines, legislative director at the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

“The Federal Trade Commission can’t do the job of protecting the public from unfair and deceptive practices with its hands tied,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at Consumer Federation of America. “It needs the rulemaking and enforcement tools that other federal agencies have to ensure a fair marketplace for consumers and businesses.”

"We need regulators who are nimble enough to keep up with the rapidly evolving technologies that ensnare our children. The FTC’s current cumbersome rulemaking process leaves the Commission light years behind the industries it regulates. The 21st Century FTC Act will give the FTC much-needed additional tools and flexibility to stop the unfair manipulation of consumers." said Josh Golin, Executive Director, Fairplay.

"U.S. PIRG supports Rep. Castor's bill to give the FTC streamlined rulemaking authority and the power to impose civil penalties for first violations of the FTC Act. U.S. PIRG has long supported removing the shackles of Magnuson-Moss rulemaking, which is unique to the FTC and prevents it from policing the marketplace, and also taking away industry's favorite "first bite of the apple is free" clause, which has allowed wrongdoers both to avoid sanctions and then negotiate sweetheart settlements. It's not any way to run a law enforcement agency,” said Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, U.S. PIRG.

"The Federal Trade Commission is an essential consumer protection agency that has operated with one hand tied behind its back for far too long.  The 21st Century FTC Act will provide the Commission with key authorities it needs to truly protect consumers in the marketplace,” said Anna Laitin, Director, Financial Fairness and Legislative Strategy at Consumer Reports.

"The FTC needs every tool in the box to fight big tech and protect families. Streamlined rulemaking and the ability to fine first-time offenders have been critical in keeping COPPA relevant, and those mechanisms should be made fully available to the agency to protect consumers from all unfair and deceptive practices. We applaud Rep. Castor for continuing to fight to protect kids and families online,” said James P. Steyer, Common Sense Founder and CEO.

“For too long, the FTC has been handcuffed by outmoded federal rules that have constrained its ability to protect Americans.  With this bill, the commission will have the tools to ensure consumers and small businesses are treated fairly in the marketplace,” said Jeff Chester, Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy.

“Consumers rely on the Federal Trade Commission to protect them from fraudsters and provide financial relief from any number of scams,” said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s Director of National Priorities. “Representative Castor’s bill would give the FTC the authority it needs to crack down on scammers from the first signs of unfair and deceptive behavior."

“Representative Castor’s bill is crucial and much needed legislation to bring the FTC in line with more than 50 other federal regulatory agencies. Rulemaking authority will allow the FTC to provide necessary guidance and clarity to businesses operating in an ever-changing economy. Further, first offense civil penalty authority will empower the agency to protect consumers and help guarantee a fair and competitive marketplace for all,” said Bonnie Patten, Executive Director at truthinadvertising.org.

“The 21st Century FTC Act gives the Federal Trade Commission improved tools to address the corporate surveillance systems that are harming individual privacy, civil rights, and our democracy. The FTC’s current years-long rulemaking process does not make sense in the age of ever-changing technology. The United States needs a dedicated Data Protection Agency, but in the meantime, streamlined rulemaking procedures for the FTC are a step in the right direction,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, Deputy Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

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