The primary goal of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is an independent body of the United States government, is to enforce civil antitrust legislation, which is a kind of antitrust law that does not include criminal prosecution, and to promote consumer protection actively. Together with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for the enforcement of federal civil antitrust laws. Washington, District of Columbia, is home to the Federal Trade Commission Building, which serves as the agency’s headquarters.

In reaction to the monopolistic trust issue that occurred in the 19th century, the Federal Trade Commission Act was signed into law in 1914, which led to the establishment of the Federal Trade Commission. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been responsible for enforcing the requirements of the Clayton Act, which is a significant antitrust act, as well as the provisions of the FTC Act, which may be found in 15 USC § 41 et seq. Title 16 of the Code of Federal rules contains a variety of rules that have been published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over time. Additionally, the FTC has been given the responsibility of enforcing other business regulatory acts. Because of the expansive legislative power that has been provided to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it is able to conduct more surveillance and monitoring than it actually does.

The Federal Trade Commission is made up of five commissioners, each of whom serves a total of seven years. The President nominates members of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and is subject to confirmation by the Senate. It is not allowed for more than three members of the same party to be members of the FTC. The President has the authority to choose a member of the body to serve as the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Commissioner Lina Khan has held this position since June 2021.

From Trust-Busting to Regulation: The FTC’s Early Beginnings

The first version of a measure to form a commission to regulate interstate commerce was submitted on January 25, 1912, by Oklahoma congressman Dick Thompson Morgan. This was in response to the rulings that the Supreme Court had made in May 1911 against Standard Oil and American Tobacco. On February 21, 1912, he delivered the inaugural speech on the floor of the House, calling for the establishment of the organization.

FTC Recent Work

In spite of the fact that the first measure was not approved, the issues of trusts and antitrust were the primary concerns during the election of 1912. During the year 1912, the majority of political party platforms supported the construction of a federal trade commission, with the regulatory powers of the commission being put in the hands of an administrative board. This was done as an alternative to tasks that had previously been performed via the courts, which were required to be done very slowly.

Morgan proposed a significantly modified version of his measure during the special session that took place in April 1913. This was done in response to the fact that the presidential election of 1912 was decided in favor of the Democrats and Woodrow Wilson. On September 26, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Trade Commission Act, which was the culmination of the national discussion. Three weeks later, the Clayton Antitrust Act was passed, which further tightened rules.

The Bureau of Corporations, which had been founded in 1903 under the Department of Commerce and Labor, would be absorbed by the new Federal Trade Commission, along with its personnel and responsibilities. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission can challenge “unfair methods of competition” and enforce the Clayton Act’s more specific prohibitions on some types of pricing discrimination, vertical arrangements, interlocking directorates, and stock purchases.

Consumer Protection in Action: Examples of the FTC’s Recent Work

In 1984, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) began the process of regulating the funeral home sector with the purpose of safeguarding customers from fraudulent business practices. The FTC Funeral Rule mandates that funeral homes must present a General Price List (GPL) to all of their customers, including prospective customers. This GPL must contain a detailed description of the products and services offered by the funeral business, as defined by the FTC, as well as a listing of the companies’ costs.

The General Public License (GPL) is required to be made available to all persons upon request, and no one is permitted to be refused a written copy of the GPL that may be kept. Under the Funeral Rule Offenders Program (FROP), which was established by the Federal Trade Commission in 1996, “funeral homes make a voluntary payment to the United States Treasury or an appropriate state fund for an amount that is less than what would likely be sought if the Commission authorized filing a lawsuit for civil penalties.” In addition, the funeral homes take part in the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) compliance program, which involves a review of the pricing lists, on-site training of the staff, and follow-up testing and certification on compliance with the Funeral Rule.

An initiative known as “fraud sweeps” was initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the middle of the 1990s. This initiative included the FTC and its federal, state, and local partners filing simultaneous legal proceedings against various telemarketing fraud targets. Project Telesweep, which was launched in July 1995, was the first sweep operation. Its purpose was to combat one hundred fraudulent business opportunity schemes.

AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC was a case that was heard by the United States Supreme Court in 2021. The Court reached a majority decision that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) did not possess the authority to seek equitable remedies in courts, as stipulated by 15 USC Section 53(b) of the FTC Act, which was revised in 1973. The FTC, on the other hand, had the authority to seek only injunctive relief.

Conclusion

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stands as a pillar of consumer protection and antitrust enforcement in the United States, tracing its origins to the early 20th century. Established to curb monopolistic practices and promote fair competition, the FTC continues to evolve with the times, addressing contemporary challenges such as online fraud and deceptive business practices. With a mandate to safeguard consumers and ensure market integrity, the FTC plays a crucial role in maintaining a level playing field for businesses and protecting the rights of individuals nationwide.