Federal Trade Commission Act

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Federal Trade Commission Act
Short Title Federal Trade Commission Act
Official Text Federal Trade Commission Act
Country/Jurisdiction United States
State or Province
Regulatory Bodies FTC
Date Enacted 1914

Scope of the Law Consumers, Corporations
Information Communication, Computer Device, Ethnicity, Identifying, Ownership, Physical Characteristic, Sexual, Social Network

Taxonomy Breach of Confidentiality, Decisional Interference, Disclosure, Distortion
Strategies

The Act prevents prevent companies from unfair methods of competition, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. It also protects individuals from misleading information which is caused by false advertisements.

Text of the law

15 U.S. Code § 45b - Consumer review protection
(a)Definitions
In this section:
(1)Commission
The term “Commission” means the Federal Trade Commission.
(2)Covered communication
The term “covered communication” means a written, oral, or pictorial review, performance assessment of, or other similar analysis of, including by electronic means, the goods, services, or conduct of a person by an individual who is party to a form contract with respect to which such person is also a party. Communication


(3)Form contract
(A)In general
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), the term “form contract” means a contract :with standardized terms—
(i)used by a person in the course of selling or leasing the person’s goods or services; and
(ii)imposed on an individual without a meaningful opportunity for such individual to negotiate the standardized terms.
(B)Exception
The term “form contract” does not include an employer-employee or independent contractor contract.
(4)Pictorial
The term “pictorial” includes pictures, photographs, video, illustrations, and symbols. Identifying


(b)Invalidity of contracts that impede consumer reviews Decisional Interference
(1)In general
Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3), a provision of a form contract is void from the inception of such contract if such provision—
(A)prohibits or restricts the ability of an individual who is a party to the form contract to engage in a covered communication;
(B)imposes a penalty or fee against an individual who is a party to the form contract for engaging in a covered communication; or
(C)transfers or requires an individual who is a party to the form contract to transfer to any person any intellectual property rights in review or feedback content, with the exception of a non-exclusive license to use the content, that the individual may have in any otherwise lawful covered communication about such person or the goods or services provided by such person.
(2)Rule of construction

Nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to affect—

(A)any duty of confidentiality imposed by law (including agency guidance);
(B)any civil cause of action for defamation, libel, or slander, or any similar cause of action;
(C)any party’s right to remove or refuse to display publicly on an Internet website or webpage owned, operated, or otherwise controlled by such party any content of a covered communication that— Social Network
(i)contains the personal information or likeness of another person, or is libelous, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, or is inappropriate with respect to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other intrinsic characteristic; Ethnicity, Sexual, Physical Characteristic
(ii)is unrelated to the goods or services offered by or available at such party’s Internet website or webpage; or Ethnicity, Sexual, Physical Characteristic
(iii)is clearly false or misleading; or Distortion
(D)a party’s right to establish terms and conditions with respect to the creation of photographs or video of such party’s property when those photographs or video are created by an employee or independent contractor of a commercial entity and solely intended for commercial purposes by that entity.
(3)Exceptions

Paragraph (1) shall not apply to the extent that a provision of a form contract prohibits disclosure or submission of, or reserves the right of a person or business that hosts online consumer reviews or comments to remove— Disclosure

(A)trade secrets or commercial or financial information obtained from a person and considered privileged or confidential;
(B)personnel and medical files and similar information the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
(C)records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
(D)content that is unlawful or otherwise meets the requirements of paragraph (2)(C); or
(E)content that contains any computer viruses, worms, or other potentially damaging computer code, processes, programs, applications, or files. Computer Device
(c)Prohibition
It shall be unlawful for a person to offer a form contract containing a provision described as void in subsection (b).
(d)Enforcement by Commission
(1)Unfair or deceptive acts or practices
A violation of subsection (c) by a person with respect to which the Commission is empowered under section 5(a)(2) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45(a(2)) shall be treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)).
(2)Powers of Commission
(A)In general
The Commission shall enforce this section in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) were incorporated into and made a part of this Act.
(B)Privileges and immunities
Any person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties and entitled to the privileges and immunities provided in the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.).
(e)Enforcement by States
(1)Authorization
Subject to paragraph (2), in any case in which the attorney general of a State has reason to believe that an interest of the residents of the State has been or is threatened or adversely affected by the engagement of any person subject to subsection ::(c) in a practice that violates such subsection, the attorney general of the State may, as parens patriae, bring a civil action on behalf of the residents of the State in an appropriate district court of the United States to obtain appropriate relief.
(2)Rights of Federal Trade Commission
(A)Notice to Federal Trade Commission
(i)In general
Except as provided in clause (iii), the attorney general of a State shall notify the Commission in writing that the attorney general intends to bring a civil action under paragraph (1) before initiating the civil action against a person described in subsection (d)(1).
(ii)Contents
The notification required by clause (i) with respect to a civil action shall include a copy of the complaint to be filed to initiate the civil action.
(iii)Exception
If it is not feasible for the attorney general of a State to provide the notification required by clause (i) before initiating a civil action under paragraph (1), the attorney general shall notify the Commission immediately upon instituting the civil action.
(B)Intervention by Federal Trade Commission
The Commission may—
(i)intervene in any civil action brought by the attorney general of a State under paragraph (1) against a person described in subsection (d)(1); and
(ii)upon intervening—
(I)be heard on all matters arising in the civil action; and
(II)file petitions for appeal of a decision in the civil action.
(3)Investigatory powers
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prevent the attorney general of a State from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the laws of the State to conduct investigations, to administer oaths or affirmations, or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary or other evidence.
(4)Preemptive action by Federal Trade Commission
If the Federal Trade Commission institutes a civil action or an administrative action with respect to a violation of subsection (c), the attorney general of a State may not, during the pendency of such action, bring a civil action under paragraph (1) against any defendant named in the complaint of the Commission for the violation with respect to which the Commission instituted such action.
(5)Venue; service of process
(A)Venue
Any action brought under paragraph (1) may be brought in—
(i)the district court of the United States that meets applicable requirements relating to venue under section 1391 of title 28; or
(ii)another court of competent jurisdiction.
(B)Service of process
In an action brought under paragraph (1), process may be served in any district in which the defendant—
(i)is an inhabitant; or
(ii)may be found.
(6)Actions by other State officials
(A)In general
In addition to civil actions brought by attorneys general under paragraph (1), any other consumer protection officer of a State who is authorized by the State to do so may bring a civil action under paragraph (1), subject to the same requirements and limitations that apply under this subsection to civil actions brought by attorneys general.
(B)Savings provision
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prohibit an authorized official of a State from initiating or continuing any proceeding in a court of the State for a violation of any civil or criminal law of the State.
(f)Education and outreach for businesses
Not later than 60 days after December 14, 2016, the Commission shall commence conducting education and outreach that provides businesses with non-binding best practices for compliance with this Act.
(g)Relation to State causes of action
Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect any cause of action brought by a person that exists or may exist under State law.
(h)Savings provision
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, impair, or supersede the operation of the Federal Trade Commission Act [15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.] or any other provision of Federal law.
(i)Effective dates
This section shall take effect on December 14, 2016, except that—
(1)subsections (b) and (c) shall apply with respect to contracts in effect on or after the date that is 90 days after December 14, 2016; and
(2)subsections (d) and (e) shall apply with respect to contracts in effect on or after the date that is 1 year after December 14, 2016.
15 U.S. Code § 45c - Unfair and deceptive acts and practices relating to circumvention of ticket access control measures
(a)Conduct prohibited
(1)In general
Except as provided in paragraph (2), it shall be unlawful for any person—
(A)to circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure on an Internet website or online service that is used by the ticket issuer to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of posted online ticket purchasing order rules; or
(B)to sell or offer to sell any event ticket in interstate commerce obtained in violation of subparagraph (A) if the person selling or offering to sell the ticket either—
(i)participated directly in or had the ability to control the conduct in violation of subparagraph (A); or
(ii)knew or should have known that the event ticket was acquired in violation of subparagraph (A).
(2)Exception
It shall not be unlawful under this section for a person to create or use any computer software or system—
(A)to investigate, or further the enforcement or defense, of any alleged violation of this section or other statute or regulation; or
(B)to engage in research necessary to identify and analyze flaws and vulnerabilities of measures, systems, or controls described in paragraph (1)(A), if these research activities are conducted to advance the state of knowledge in the field of computer system security or to assist in the development of computer security product.
(b)Enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission
(1)Unfair or deceptive acts or practices
A violation of subsection (a) shall be treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or a deceptive act or practice under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)).
(2)Powers of Commission
(A)In general
The Commission shall enforce this section in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) were incorporated into and made a part of this section.
(B)Privileges and immunities
Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be subject to the penalties and entitled to the privileges and immunities provided in the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.).
(C)Authority preserved
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Federal Trade Commission under any other provision of law.
(c)Enforcement by States
(1)In general
In any case in which the attorney general of a State has reason to believe that an interest of the residents of the State has been or is threatened or adversely affected by the engagement of any person subject to subsection (a) in a practice that violates such subsection, the attorney general of the State may, as parens patriae, bring a civil action on behalf of the residents of the State in an appropriate district court of the United States—
(A)to enjoin further violation of such subsection by such person;
(B)to compel compliance with such subsection; and
(C)to obtain damages, restitution, or other compensation on behalf of such residents.
(2)Rights of Federal Trade Commission
(A)Notice to Federal Trade Commission
(i)In general
Except as provided in clause (iii), the attorney general of a State shall notify the Commission in writing that the attorney general intends to bring a civil action under paragraph (1) not later than 10 days before initiating the civil action.
(ii)Contents
The notification required by clause (i) with respect to a civil action shall include a copy of the complaint to be filed to initiate the civil action.
(iii)Exception
If it is not feasible for the attorney general of a State to provide the notification required by clause (i) before initiating a civil action under paragraph (1), the attorney general shall notify the Commission immediately upon instituting the civil action.
(B)Intervention by Federal Trade Commission
The Commission may—
(i)intervene in any civil action brought by the attorney general of a State under paragraph (1); and
(ii)upon intervening—
(I)be heard on all matters arising in the civil action; and
(II)file petitions for appeal of a decision in the civil action.
(3)Investigatory powers
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prevent the attorney general of a State from exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the laws of the State to conduct investigations, to administer oaths or affirmations, or to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documentary or other evidence.
(4)Preemptive action by Federal Trade Commission
If the Commission institutes a civil action or an administrative action with respect to a violation of subsection (a), the attorney general of a State may not, during the pendency of such action, bring a civil action under paragraph (1) against any defendant named in the complaint of the Commission for the violation with respect to which the Commission instituted such action.
(5)Venue; service of process
(A)Venue
Any action brought under paragraph (1) may be brought in—
(i)the district court of the United States that meets applicable requirements relating to venue under section 1391 of title 28; or
(ii)another court of competent jurisdiction.
(B)Service of process
In an action brought under paragraph (1), process may be served in any district in which the defendant—
(i)is an inhabitant; or
(ii)may be found.
(6)Actions by other State officials
(A)In general
In addition to civil actions brought by attorneys general under paragraph (1), any other consumer protection officer of a State who is authorized by the State to do so may bring a civil action under paragraph (1), subject to the same requirements and limitations that apply under this subsection to civil actions brought by attorneys general.
(B)Savings provision
Nothing in this subsection may be construed to prohibit an authorized official of a State from initiating or continuing any proceeding in a court of the State for a violation of any civil or criminal law of the State.
15 U.S. Code § 45d.Unfair or deceptive acts or practices with respect to substance use disorder treatment service and products
(a)Unlawful activity
It is unlawful to engage in an unfair or deceptive act or practice with respect to any substance use disorder treatment service or substance use disorder treatment product.
(b)Enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission
(1)Unfair or deceptive acts or practices
A violation of subsection (a) shall be treated as a violation of a rule under section 18 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a) regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
(2)Powers of the Federal Trade Commission
(A)In general
The Federal Trade Commission shall enforce this section in the same manner, by the same means, and with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) were incorporated into and made a part of this section.
(B)Privileges and immunities
Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be subject to the penalties and entitled to the privileges and immunities provided in the Federal Trade Commission Act as though all applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) were incorporated and made part of this section.
(c)Authority preserved
Nothing in this subtitle shall be construed to limit the authority of the Federal Trade Commission or the Food and Drug Administration under any other provision of law.
15 U.S. Code § 48.Information and assistance from departments
The several departments and bureaus of the Government when directed by the President shall furnish the Commission, upon its request, all records, papers, and information in their possession relating to any corporation subject to any of the provisions of this subchapter, and shall detail from time to time such officials and employees to the Commission as he may direct.
15 U.S. Code § 52 - Dissemination of false advertisements
(a)Unlawfulness
It shall be unlawful for any person, partnership, or corporation to disseminate, or cause to be disseminated, any false advertisement— Distortion
(1)By United States mails, or in or having an effect upon commerce, by any means, for the purpose of inducing, or which is likely to induce, directly or indirectly the purchase of food, drugs, devices, services, or cosmetics; or Ownership
(2)By any means, for the purpose of inducing, or which is likely to induce, directly or indirectly, the purchase in or having an effect upon commerce, of food, drugs, devices, services, or cosmetics.
(b)Unfair or deceptive act or practice
The dissemination or the causing to be disseminated of any false advertisement within the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be an unfair or deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce within the meaning of section 45 of this title.
15 U.S. Code § 53 - False advertisements; injunctions and restraining orders
(a)Power of Commission; jurisdiction of courts
Whenever the Commission has reason to believe—
(1)that any person, partnership, or corporation is engaged in, or is about to engage in, the dissemination or the causing of the dissemination of any advertisement in violation of section 52 of this title, and
(2)that the enjoining thereof pending the issuance of a complaint by the Commission under section 45 of this title, and until such complaint is dismissed by the Commission or set aside by the court on review, or the order of the Commission to cease and desist made thereon has become final within the meaning of section 45 of this title, would be to the interest of the public, the Commission by any of its attorneys designated by it for such purpose may bring suit in a district court of the United States or in the United States court of any Territory, to enjoin the dissemination or the causing of the dissemination of such advertisement. Upon proper showing a temporary injunction or restraining order shall be granted without bond. Any suit may be brought where such person, partnership, or corporation resides or transacts business, or wherever venue is proper under section 1391 of title 28. In addition, the court may, if the court determines that the interests of justice require that any other person, partnership, or corporation should be a party in such suit, cause such other person, partnership, or corporation to be added as a party without regard to whether venue is otherwise proper in the district in which the suit is brought. In any suit under this section, process may be served on any person, partnership, or corporation wherever it may be found.
(b)Temporary restraining orders; preliminary injunctions
Whenever the Commission has reason to believe—
(1)that any person, partnership, or corporation is violating, or is about to violate, any provision of law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and
(2)that the enjoining thereof pending the issuance of a complaint by the Commission and until such complaint is dismissed by the Commission or set aside by the court on review, or until the order of the Commission made thereon has become final, would be in the interest of the public—
the Commission by any of its attorneys designated by it for such purpose may bring suit in a district court of the United States to enjoin any such act or practice. Upon a proper showing that, weighing the equities and considering the Commission’s likelihood of ultimate success, such action would be in the public interest, and after notice to the defendant, a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction may be granted without bond: Provided, however, That if a complaint is not filed within such period (not exceeding 20 days) as may be specified by the court after issuance of the temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction, the order or injunction shall be dissolved by the court and be of no further force and effect: Provided further, That in proper cases the Commission may seek, and after proper proof, the court may issue, a permanent injunction. Any suit may be brought where such person, partnership, or corporation resides or transacts business, or wherever venue is proper under section 1391 of title 28. In addition, the court may, if the court determines that the interests of justice require that any other person, partnership, or corporation should be a party in such suit, cause such other person, partnership, or corporation to be added as a party without regard to whether venue is otherwise proper in the district in which the suit is brought. In any suit under this section, process may be served on any person, partnership, or corporation wherever it may be found.
(c)Service of process; proof of service
Any process of the Commission under this section may be served by any person duly authorized by the Commission—
(1)by delivering a copy of such process to the person to be served, to a member of the partnership to be served, or to the president, secretary, or other executive officer or a director of the corporation to be served;
(2)by leaving a copy of such process at the residence or the principal office or place of business of such person, partnership, or corporation; or
(3)by mailing a copy of such process by registered mail or certified mail addressed to such person, partnership, or corporation at his, or her, or its residence, principal office, or principal place or business.

The verified return by the person serving such process setting forth the manner of such service shall be proof of the same.

(d)Exception of periodical publications
Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the court in the case of a newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publication, published at regular intervals—
(1)that restraining the dissemination of a false advertisement in any particular issue of such publication would delay the delivery of such issue after the regular time therefor, and
(2)that such delay would be due to the method by which the manufacture and distribution of such publication is customarily conducted by the publisher in accordance with sound business practice, and not to any method or device adopted for the evasion of this section or to prevent or delay the issuance of an injunction or restraining order with respect to such false advertisement or any other advertisement,

the court shall exclude such issue from the operation of the restraining order or injunction.

15 U.S. Code § 54.False advertisements; penalties Distortion


(a)Imposition of penalties
Any person, partnership, or corporation who violates any provision of section 52(a) of this title shall, if the use of the commodity advertised may be injurious to health because of results from such use under the conditions prescribed in the advertisement thereof, or under such conditions as are customary or usual, or if such violation is with intent to defraud or mislead, be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment; except that if the conviction is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person, partnership, or corporation, for any violation of such section, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment: Provided, That for the purposes of this section meats and meat food products duly inspected, marked, and labeled in accordance with rules and regulations issued under the Meat Inspection Act [21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.] shall be conclusively presumed not injurious to health at the time the same leave official “establishments.”
(b)Exception of advertising medium or agency
No publisher, radio-broadcast licensee, or agency or medium for the dissemination of advertising, except the manufacturer, packer, distributor, or seller of the commodity to which the false advertisement relates, shall be liable under this section by reason of the dissemination by him of any false advertisement, unless he has refused, on the request of the Commission, to furnish the Commission the name and post-office address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor, seller, or advertising agency, residing in the United States, who caused him to disseminate such advertisement. No advertising agency shall be liable under this section by reason of the causing by it of the dissemination of any false advertisement, unless it has refused, on the request of the Commission, to furnish the Commission the name and post-office address of the manufacturer, packer, distributor, or seller, residing in the United States, who caused it to cause the dissemination of such advertisement.
15 U.S. Code § 57b–2 - Confidentiality
(a)Definitions
For purposes of this section:
(1)The term “material” means documentary material, tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony.
(2)The term “Federal agency” has the meaning given it in section 552(e) [1] of title 5.
(b)Procedures respecting documents, tangible things, or transcripts of oral testimony received pursuant to compulsory process or investigation
(1)With respect to any document, tangible thing, or transcript of oral testimony received by the Commission pursuant to compulsory process in an investigation, a purpose of which is to determine whether any person may have violated any provision of the laws administered by the Commission, the procedures established in paragraph (2) through paragraph (7) shall apply.
(2)
(A)The Commission shall designate a duly authorized agent to serve as custodian of documentary material, tangible things, or written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony, and such additional duly authorized agents as the Commission shall determine from time to time to be necessary to serve as deputies to the custodian.
(B)Any person upon whom any demand for the production of documentary material has been duly served shall make such material available for inspection and copying or reproduction to the custodian designated in such demand at the principal place of business of such person (or at such other place as such custodian and such person thereafter may agree and prescribe in writing or as the court may direct pursuant to section 57b–1(h) of this title) on the return date specified in such demand (or on such later date as such custodian may prescribe in writing). Such person may upon written agreement between such person and the custodian substitute copies for originals of all or any part of such material.
(3)
(A)The custodian to whom any documentary material, tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony are delivered shall take physical possession of such material, reports or answers, and transcripts, and shall be responsible for the use made of such material, reports or answers, and transcripts, and for the return of material, pursuant to the requirements of this section.
(B)The custodian may prepare such copies of the documentary material, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony, and may make tangible things available, as may be required for official use by any duly authorized officer or employee of the Commission under regulations which shall be promulgated by the Commission. Notwithstanding subparagraph (C), such material, things, and transcripts may be used by any such officer or employee in connection with the taking of oral testimony under this section.
(C)Except as otherwise provided in this section, while in the possession of the custodian, no documentary material, tangible things, reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony shall be available for examination by any individual other than a duly authorized officer or employee of the Commission without the consent of the person who produced the material, things, or transcripts. Nothing in this section is intended to prevent disclosure to either House of the Congress or to any committee or subcommittee of the Congress, except that the Commission immediately shall notify the owner or provider of any such information of a request for information designated as confidential by the owner or provider.
(D)While in the possession of the custodian and under such reasonable terms and conditions as the Commission shall prescribe—
(i)documentary material, tangible things, or written reports shall be available for examination by the person who produced the material, or by any duly authorized representative of such person; and
(ii)answers to questions in writing and transcripts of oral testimony shall be available for examination by the person who produced the testimony or by his attorney.
(4)Whenever the Commission has instituted a proceeding against a person, partnership, or corporation, the custodian may deliver to any officer or employee of the Commission documentary material, tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony for official use in connection with such proceeding. Upon the completion of the proceeding, the officer or employee shall return to the custodian any such material so delivered which has not been received into the record of the proceeding.
(5)If any documentary material, tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony have been produced in the course of any investigation by any person pursuant to compulsory process and—
(A)any proceeding arising out of the investigation has been completed; or
(B)no proceeding in which the material may be used has been commenced within a reasonable time after completion of the examination and analysis of all such material and other information assembled in the course of the investigation;

then the custodian shall, upon written request of the person who produced the material, return to the person any such material which has not been received into the record of any such proceeding (other than copies of such material made by the custodian pursuant to paragraph (3)(B)).

(6)The custodian of any documentary material, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony may deliver to any officers or employees of appropriate Federal law enforcement agencies, in response to a written request, copies of such material for use in connection with an investigation or proceeding under the jurisdiction of any such agency. The custodian of any tangible things may make such things available for inspection to such persons on the same basis. Such materials shall not be made available to any such agency until the custodian receives certification of any officer of such agency that such information will be maintained in confidence and will be used only for official law enforcement purposes. Such documentary material, results of inspections of tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony may be used by any officer or employee of such agency only in such manner and subject to such conditions as apply to the Commission under this section. The custodian may make such materials available to any State law enforcement agency upon the prior certification of any officer of such agency that such information will be maintained in confidence and will be used only for official law enforcement purposes. The custodian may make such material available to any foreign law enforcement agency upon the prior certification of an appropriate official of any such foreign law enforcement agency, either by a prior agreement or memorandum of understanding with the Commission or by other written certification, that such material will be maintained in confidence and will be used only for official law enforcement purposes, if—
(A)the foreign law enforcement agency has set forth a bona fide legal basis for its authority to maintain the material in confidence;
(B)the materials are to be used for purposes of investigating, or engaging in enforcement proceedings related to, possible violations of—
(i)foreign laws prohibiting fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices, or other practices substantially similar to practices prohibited by any law administered by the Commission;
(ii)a law administered by the Commission, if disclosure of the material would further a Commission investigation or enforcement proceeding; or
(iii)with the approval of the Attorney General, other foreign criminal laws, if such foreign criminal laws are offenses defined in or covered by a criminal mutual legal assistance treaty in force between the government of the United States and the foreign law enforcement agency’s government;
(C)the appropriate Federal banking agency (as defined in section 1813(q) of title 12) or, in the case of a Federal credit union, the National Credit Union Administration, has given its prior approval if the materials to be provided under subparagraph (B) are requested by the foreign law enforcement agency for the purpose of investigating, or engaging in enforcement proceedings based on, possible violations of law by a bank, a savings and loan institution described in section 57a(f)(3) of this title, or a Federal credit union described in section 57a(f)(4) of this title; and
(D)the foreign law enforcement agency is not from a foreign state that the Secretary of State has determined, in accordance with section 4605(j) 1 of title 50, has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, unless and until such determination is rescinded pursuant to section 4605(j)(4) 1 of title 50. Nothing in the preceding sentence authorizes the disclosure of material obtained in connection with the administration of the Federal antitrust laws or foreign antitrust laws (as defined in paragraphs (5) and (7), respectively, of section 6211 of this title) to any officer or employee of a foreign law enforcement agency.
(7)In the event of the death, disability, or separation from service in the Commission of the custodian of any documentary material, tangible things, written reports or answers to questions, and transcripts of oral testimony produced under any demand issued under this subchapter, or the official relief of the custodian from responsibility for the custody and control of such material, the Commission promptly shall—
(A)designate under paragraph (2)(A) another duly authorized agent to serve as custodian of such material; and
(B)transmit in writing to the person who produced the material or testimony notice as to the identity and address of the successor so designated.

Any successor designated under paragraph (2)(A) as a result of the requirements of this paragraph shall have (with regard to the material involved) all duties and responsibilities imposed by this section upon his predecessor in office with regard to such material, except that he shall not be held responsible for any default or dereliction which occurred before his designation.

(c)Information considered confidential Disclosure, Breach of Confidentiality
(1)All information reported to or otherwise obtained by the Commission which is not subject to the requirements of subsection (b) shall be considered confidential when so marked by the person supplying the information and shall not be disclosed, except in accordance with the procedures established in paragraph (2) and paragraph (3).
(2)If the Commission determines that a document marked confidential by the person supplying it may be disclosed because it is not a trade secret or commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential, within the meaning of section 46(f) of this title, then the Commission shall notify such person in writing that the Commission intends to disclose the document at a date not less than 10 days after the date of receipt of notification.
(3)Any person receiving such notification may, if he believes disclosure of the document would cause disclosure of a trade secret, or commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential, within the meaning of section 46(f) of this title, before the date set for release of the document, bring an action in the district court of the United States for the district within which the documents are located or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to restrain disclosure of the document. Any person receiving such notification may file with the appropriate district court or court of appeals of the United States, as appropriate, an application for a stay of disclosure. The documents shall not be disclosed until the court has ruled on the application for a stay.
(d)Particular disclosures allowed
(1)The provisions of subsection (c) shall not be construed to prohibit—
(A)the disclosure of information to either House of the Congress or to any committee or subcommittee of the Congress, except that the Commission immediately shall notify the owner or provider of any such information of a request for information designated as confidential by the owner or provider;
(B)the disclosure of the results of any investigation or study carried out or prepared by the Commission, except that no information shall be identified nor shall information be disclosed in such a manner as to disclose a trade secret of any person supplying the trade secret, or to disclose any commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential;
(C)the disclosure of relevant and material information in Commission adjudicative proceedings or in judicial proceedings to which the Commission is a party; or
(D)the disclosure to a Federal agency of disaggregated information obtained in accordance with section 3512 1 of title 44, except that the recipient agency shall use such disaggregated information for economic, statistical, or policymaking purposes only, and shall not disclose such information in an individually identifiable form.
(2)Any disclosure of relevant and material information in Commission adjudicative proceedings or in judicial proceedings to which the Commission is a party shall be governed by the rules of the Commission for adjudicative proceedings or by court rules or orders, except that the rules of the Commission shall not be amended in a manner inconsistent with the purposes of this section.
(e)Effect on other statutory provisions limiting disclosure

Nothing in this section shall supersede any statutory provision which expressly prohibits or limits particular disclosures by the Commission, or which authorizes disclosures to any other Federal agency.

(f)Exemption from public disclosure
(1)In general
Any material which is received by the Commission in any investigation, a purpose of which is to determine whether any person may have violated any provision of the laws administered by the Commission, and which is provided pursuant to any compulsory process under this subchapter or which is provided voluntarily in place of such compulsory process shall not be required to be disclosed under section 552 of title 5 or any other provision of law, except as provided in paragraph (2)(B) of this section.
(2)Material obtained from a foreign source
(A)In general
Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the Commission shall not be required to disclose under section 552 of title 5 or any other provision of law—
(i)any material obtained from a foreign law enforcement agency or other foreign government agency, if the foreign law enforcement agency or other foreign government agency has requested confidential treatment, or has precluded such disclosure under other use limitations, as a condition of providing the material;
(ii)any material reflecting a consumer complaint obtained from any other foreign source, if that foreign source supplying the material has requested confidential treatment as a condition of providing the material; or
(iii)any material reflecting a consumer complaint submitted to a Commission reporting mechanism sponsored in part by foreign law enforcement agencies or other foreign government agencies.
(B)Savings provision
Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the Commission to withhold information from the Congress or prevent the Commission from complying with an order of a court of the United States in an action commenced by the United States or the Commission.
15 U.S. Code § 57b–2a - Confidentiality and delayed notice of compulsory process for certain third parties
(a)Application with other laws

The Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.) and chapter 121 of title 18 shall apply with respect to the Commission, except as otherwise provided in this section.

(b)Procedures for delay of notification or prohibition of disclosure

The procedures for delay of notification or prohibition of disclosure under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.) and chapter 121 of title 18, including procedures for extensions of such delays or prohibitions, shall be available to the Commission, provided that, notwithstanding any provision therein—

(1)a court may issue an order delaying notification or prohibiting disclosure (including extending such an order) in accordance with the procedures of section 1109 of the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3409) (if notification would otherwise be required under that Act), or section 2705 of title 18 (if notification would otherwise be required under chapter 121 of that title), if the presiding judge or magistrate judge finds that there is reason to believe that such notification or disclosure may cause an adverse result as defined in subsection (g) of this section; and
(2)if notification would otherwise be required under chapter 121 of title 18, the Commission may delay notification (including extending such a delay) upon the execution of a written certification in accordance with the procedures of section 2705 of that title if the Commission finds that there is reason to believe that notification may cause an adverse result as defined in subsection (g) of this section.
(c)Ex parte application by Commission
(1)In general
If neither notification nor delayed notification by the Commission is required under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.) or chapter 121 of title 18, the Commission may apply ex parte to a presiding judge or magistrate judge for an order prohibiting the recipient of compulsory process issued by the Commission from disclosing to any other person the existence of the process, notwithstanding any law or regulation of the United States, or under the constitution, or any law or regulation, of any State, political subdivision of a State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia. The presiding judge or magistrate judge may enter such an order granting the requested prohibition of disclosure for a period not to exceed 60 days if there is reason to believe that disclosure may cause an adverse result as defined in subsection (g). The presiding judge or magistrate judge may grant extensions of this order of up to 30 days each in accordance with this subsection, except that in no event shall the prohibition continue in force for more than a total of 9 months.
(2)Application
This subsection shall apply only in connection with compulsory process issued by the Commission where the recipient of such process is not a subject of the investigation or proceeding at the time such process is issued.
(3)Limitation
No order issued under this subsection shall prohibit any recipient from disclosing to a Federal agency that the recipient has received compulsory process from the Commission.
(d)No liability for failure to notify
If neither notification nor delayed notification by the Commission is required under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.) or chapter 121 of title 18, the recipient of compulsory process issued by the Commission under this subchapter shall not be liable under any law or regulation of the United States, or under the constitution, or any law or regulation, of any State, political subdivision of a State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, or under any contract or other legally enforceable agreement, for failure to provide notice to any person that such process has been issued or that the recipient has provided information in response to such process. The preceding sentence does not exempt any recipient from liability for—
(1)the underlying conduct reported;
(2)a failure to comply with the record retention requirements under section 1104(c) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3404[c]), where applicable; or
(3)any failure to comply with any obligation the recipient may have to disclose to a Federal agency that the recipient has received compulsory process from the Commission or intends to provide or has provided information to the Commission in response to such process.
(e)Venue and procedure
(1)In general
All judicial proceedings initiated by the Commission under the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3401 et seq.), chapter 121 of title 18, or this section may be brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or any other appropriate United States District Court. All ex parte applications by the Commission under this section related to a single investigation may be brought in a single proceeding.
(2)In camera proceedings
Upon application by the Commission, all judicial proceedings pursuant to this section shall be held in camera and the records thereof sealed until expiration of the period of delay or such other date as the presiding judge or magistrate judge may permit.
(f)Section not to apply to antitrust investigations or proceedings
This section shall not apply to an investigation or proceeding related to the administration of Federal antitrust laws or foreign antitrust laws (as defined in paragraphs (5) and (7), respectively, of section 6211 of this title).
(g)Adverse result defined
For purposes of this section the term “adverse result” means—
(1)endangering the life or physical safety of an individual;
(2)flight from prosecution;
(3)the destruction of, or tampering with, evidence;
(4)the intimidation of potential witnesses; or
(5)otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or proceeding related to fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices or persons involved in such practices, or unduly delaying a trial related to such practices or persons involved in such practices, including, but not limited to, by—
(A)the transfer outside the territorial limits of the United States of assets or records related to fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices or related to persons involved in such practices;
(B)impeding the ability of the Commission to identify persons involved in fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices, or to trace the source or disposition of funds related to such practices; or
(C)the dissipation, fraudulent transfer, or concealment of assets subject to recovery by the Commission.
15 U.S. Code § 57b–2b - Protection for voluntary provision of information
(a)In general
(1)No liability for providing certain material
An entity described in paragraphs (2) or (3) of subsection (d) that voluntarily provides material to the Commission that such entity reasonably believes is relevant to—
(A)a possible unfair or deceptive act or practice, as defined in section 45(a) of this title; or
(B)assets subject to recovery by the Commission, including assets located in foreign jurisdictions; shall not be liable to any person under any law or regulation of the United States, or under the constitution, or any law or regulation, of any State, political subdivision of a State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, for such provision of material or for any failure to provide notice of such provision of material or of intention to so provide material.
(2)Limitations
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to exempt any such entity from liability—
(A)for the underlying conduct reported; or
(B)to any Federal agency for providing such material or for any failure to comply with any obligation the entity may have to notify a Federal agency prior to providing such material to the Commission.
(b)Certain financial institutions

An entity described in paragraph (1) of subsection (d) shall, in accordance with section 5318(g)(3) of title 31, be exempt from liability for making a voluntary disclosure to the Commission of any possible violation of law or regulation, including—

(1)a disclosure regarding assets, including assets located in foreign jurisdictions—
(A)related to possibly fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices;
(B)related to persons involved in such practices; or
(C)otherwise subject to recovery by the Commission; or
(2)a disclosure regarding suspicious chargeback rates related to possibly fraudulent or deceptive commercial practices.
(c)Consumer complaints
Any entity described in subsection (d) that voluntarily provides consumer complaints sent to it, or information contained therein, to the Commission shall not be liable to any person under any law or regulation of the United States, or under the constitution, or any law or regulation, of any State, political subdivision of a State, territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, for such provision of material or for any failure to provide notice of such provision of material or of intention to so provide material. This subsection shall not provide any exemption from liability for the underlying conduct.
(d)Application
This section applies to the following entities, whether foreign or domestic:
(1)A financial institution as defined in section 5312 of title 31.
(2)To the extent not included in paragraph (1), a bank or thrift institution, a commercial bank or trust company, an investment company, a credit card issuer, an operator of a credit card system, and an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of travelers’ checks, money orders, or similar instruments.
(3)A courier service, a commercial mail receiving agency, an industry membership organization, a payment system provider, a consumer reporting agency, a domain name registrar or registry acting as such, and a provider of alternative dispute resolution services.
(4)An Internet service provider or provider of telephone services.



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