3. What is the “Federal Trade Commission”?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary federal agency with the mission of protecting consumers. Authorized under the Fair Trade Commission Act, the FTC is an “independent” regulatory agency charged with keeping competition free and fair and with protecting consumers. The President appoints commissioners to the FTC and Congress approves the agency budget. A special bureau called the Bureau of Consumer Protection (BCP) promotes the consumer protection mission of the FTC. It promotes competition under the antitrust laws as well as protects consumers through the FTC Act’s prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce.” In summary, the overall objective of the FTC is to ensure fair competition by preventing those who deceive consumers from diverting sales or trade from those who compete honestly.
• Example: The FTC regulates commercial practices, such as advertising and marketing, sales of financial products and practices, privacy and identity protection, etc.
• Discussion: How do you feel about the functions and objectives of the FTC? Do you think it should be the role of a special administrative agency to promote consumer interests in the commercial market? Why or why not?
• Practice Question: What is the role and purpose of the Federal Trade Commission with regard to consumer protection laws?