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IAB Defends Online Speech, Commerce at FTC

Hearings for Consumer Reviews and Online Subscription Rules Scheduled Next Week

IAB Defends Online Speech, Commerce at FTC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the leading trade body for the digital advertising industry, continues to make its case to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the agency’s proposed rules for consumer reviews and testimonials would stifle legitimate opinion and potentially violate the First Amendment. At a virtual hearing next Tuesday, IAB’s EVP for Public Policy Lartease Tiffith will also present evidence the FTC is avoiding public input into the rulemaking process requiring “robust and meaningful” hearings.

“IAB fully supports rules prohibiting fake reviews and to punish bad actors. Unfortunately, the FTC’s latest proposal for online reviews, an essential component of success for businesses competing in today’s economy, and a form of free expression, could prohibit incentives for real customer reviews, prevent employees from speaking their minds online, and unfairly punish businesses unable to verify the authenticity of reviews,” said Tiffith.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects internet service providers and platforms from liability for third-party content, for example customer reviews, said Tiffith. “The FTC is underestimating the effects of these rules and needs to explain its conclusions in open dialog. Businesses, including small businesses subject to big fines and penalties, could be punished for the behavior of others.”

In its latest filing with the agency, IAB describes a rushed rulemaking process, similar to one underway for proposed FTC rules for online subscriptions. After the FTC denied IAB’s request for more hearings to cross-examine its experts, an administrative judge has set a third hearing next week, finding in favor of IAB. That hearing for the so-called “negative option” rule will take place on Wednesday. To view IAB’s second FTC appearance next week, click here.

“In its zeal to regulate digital advertising and marketing, the FTC is overlooking myriad benefits to consumers and our economy, as well as some fundamental constitutional issues,” said Tiffith. “We’re making sure officials there have all the facts, and the agency is following procedure, in hopes of narrowing the scope of very broad rules with consequences for every internet user.”

About IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. Its membership comprises more than 700 leading media companies, brands, agencies, and the technology firms responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital ad marketing campaigns. The trade group fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. In affiliation with the IAB Tech Lab, IAB develops technical standards and solutions. IAB is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the trade association advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, IAB is headquartered in New York City.

IAB Media Contacts
Kate Tumino / Brittany Tibaldi
212-896-1252 / 347-487-6794
[email protected]/ [email protected]