Will Trump Make Affiliate Marketing Great Again?
Let me preface this post by first stating that I did not vote for Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton for that matter), but as a fellow affiliate marketer, I wanted to bring to your attention the coming enforcement policy shift happening at the FTC and how it’s likely to benefit online and affiliate marketers.
Meet The New FTC Chairman
Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican on the Federal Trade Commission, was appointed temporary chair of the FTC by President Donald J. Trump. Ohlhausen succeeds FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, who was sworn in as a commissioner in 2010 and is resigning effective February 10, 2017.
A short time ago, amidst increasing conjecture, Ohlhausen offered some insight into the Commission’s consumer protection goals under the Trump Administration.
The Commission is going to continue to address unethical and misleading practices, such as those aimed at service members, financial and health issues, and the abuse of private consumer information. However, while such areas will continue to be hot topics, Ohlhausen commentated that the FTC will seek to prioritize a core objective designed to avoid the suppression of genuine consumer benefits.
Possibly most remarkably, Ohlhausen has commentated about ensuring that regulatory enforcement measures deal with concrete consumer harm, including privacy-related matters. According to Ohlhausen, the FTC will devote resources to better inform businesses about their obligations while the Commission, itself, seeks a better understanding of the economics of confidentiality, and the interplay of availability to consumer information and innovation.
New Actions and New Rules
Previously, Ohlhausen has often insisted that insufficient information existed to validate the initiation of enforcement proceedings. A policy shift that concentrates more heavily upon proportional enforcement solutions tethered to actual consumer harm, rather than disgorgement of total revenues, would be roundly embraced.
Preliminary indications are that an objective assessment of the nature and quality of consumer harm will also be a more persuasive component when the FTC looks at whether to initiate an enforcement action, in the first place.
Ohlhausen has also recommended that the breadth of requests for information in conjunction with regulatory investigations will first weigh the necessity for data against the burden placed upon businesses. An additional encouraging sign that the regulatory situation may be changing.
Efforts to Find a Permanent Chair Continue
With regards to the search for a permanent chair, latest stories have implied that President Trump is looking at Joshua Wright, a previous commissioner at the department, as well as the current attorney general of Utah, Sean Reyes.
If tapped by President Trump, Reyes would be a favored pick for dietary supplement marketers. Not only is Utah teeming with such businesses, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) played a significant role in drafting the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.
If Reyes is selected, efforts to raise the standard of the type of competent and reliable scientific evidence necessary to support efficacy claims could meet increased resistance.
The foregoing expected shifts in policy may very well result in a less aggressive FTC under President Trump and significant advantages to affiliate marketers, including those that promote dietary supplements.
It is anticipated that the consumer protection activities of state attorneys general will shift in reaction to possible changes in the federal enforcement agenda. For example, those that remained relatively quiet throughout the Obama Administration may now become increasingly active. Multi-state enforcement actions may soon be on the rise, including those pertaining to data and online privacy.
Contact an FTC and state attorney general defense lawyer if you would like to talk about the design and execution of compliant advertising strategies, or if you are the subject of a local, state or federal probe or enforcement action.
DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for informational purposes only and are not to be regarded as legal advice. Nobody should act or rely on any information in this article without seeking the guidance of an lawyer. Information on past case outcomes does not assure a similar future result.