Microsoft Differs from IAB Lobby on Strengthening FTC Consumer Safeguards [via a letter sent to CDD]

We asked both Microsoft and Google, which serve on the executive committee of the Interactive Ad Bureau [IAB]  trade lobbying group, whether they supported its recent letter opposing congressional action to strengthen the FTC. The letter was signed by IAB and other marketing and advertising organizations.  Microsoft has just replied.  We are glad they aren’t in lock-step with the ever so transparent–and terrified of consumer protection policy–IAB.  Here’s what they emailed me today:



Thank you for your inquiry.


As a company, Microsoft has not taken a position on the Consumer Protection Financial Agency bill.  As a whole, the bill is directed at other industry sectors.  Nor has Microsoft taken a position on the expansion of the Federal Trade Commission’s regulatory authority as proposed in that legislation.


Microsoft has supported the expansion of FTC authority, including in our longtime support for comprehensive federal privacy legislation and in a recent legislative proposal on protecting consumers related to cloud computing, where we said that the FTC should play a key role.  In the current environment, there ought to be better alternatives to guide the marketplace than de facto rulemaking through enforcement activity.


It is our view that there is merit to having FTC rulemaking authority mirror that of other agencies — we favor increased certainty and the ability for comment on proposed rules that will impact our industry.  At the same time, the reasons the FTC’s existing mechanisms were put in place (as articulated in the industry letter you cited) should not be ignored.  Perhaps there is room for a balanced approach.


We understand that the status of the financial reform bill may be uncertain, at least the status of the relevant provision in the Senate version of that legislation.


We are open to discussing these issues further with you and other interested stakeholders.



Frank Torres

Director, Consumer Affairs

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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