eCommerce and the FTC
For businesses seeking to engage commercially in the realm of cyber space ‘eCommerce’, their eCommerce efforts will be under the eyes of the FTC – Federal Trade Commission. While it was established in the early 1900s, the FTC has been focused on protecting consumers and enforcing their rights.
There has been a transition at the FTC from traditional oversight of brick and mortar business to additionally watch over commercial activities in cyber space. Its realm of enforcement over unfair deceptive business practices extends to cyber commercial activity.
As it does toward brick and mortar businesses, the FTC watches if a business’ conduct harms consumers and if a business’ practices infringes on public policy. They essentially look for deceptive misleading business practices. Business must adjust as they endeavor with eCommerce and the FTC as the latter seeks to oversee business activities.
While many view the internet as a wild west for business, that view cannot be further from the truth. Everything from internet advertising, email promotions, privacy policies, travel information, investment related opportunities, and products are watched by the FTC sold in eCommerce.
Trouble comes when businesses do not provide disclosures so that transaction terms information is provided to consumers. Also seen are untenable promises made to consumers. The rapidly pressing issue of privacy is overcoming all operational issues. FTC is concerned with businesses promoting its ability to secure consumer privacy while its infrastructure and capability is not comparable with its representations. Consumers in the eyes of the FTC should not be led by false security promises. As competition continues businesses will seek the internet as an avenue for their transactions involving eCommerce and the FTC.