FTC Considering Web Ad Disclosure Issues

Lots of television and newspaper ads carry required disclosure information in fine print and now, the FTC is considering the issue for ads on the Web.

Because the consumer protection guides written years ago did not include specific rules regarding communications on the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission is asking for comments from marketers to determine exactly where on Web pages it should require disclosure language, according to an Advertising Age report.

“The issue here is what is ‘clear and conspicuous.’ Is it a banner? Is it a pop-up? Does an offer need a frame around it?” said Elaine Kolish, the FTC’s associate director of enforcement.

The FTC inquiry reportedly marks is the first time the commission is systematically looking at how the mandatory commercial disclosures required in other media should translate into Web pages and commercial emails.

A notice on the FTC Web site reads in part: “The unique features of electronic media present special challenges and opportunities for making disclosures effectively. The proposed policy statement, therefore, would provide guidance on how the commission would evaluate whether disclosures in the electronic media are clear and conspicuous.”

The FTC also is asking whether or not marketers sending commercial emails should be covered by the same rules direct-mail marketers follow. Deadline for comments on the issue is June 6.

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