Is Bipartisanship Re-Blooming at the FTC?

by Bill McClellan on Feb 14, 2018 4:18:18 PM Government Relations

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has always had a reputation for bipartisanship among the commissioners and other leadership staff. As we have previously reported, there are currently four open positions on the Commission out of a total of five spots. Over the past year, there has been the question of whether the well-deserved reputation of working together across party lines would hold in this era of hyper-partisanship.

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Online Sales Tax Update

by Bill McClellan on Jan 31, 2018 12:30:13 PM Government Relations

Earlier this year, ERA issued a press release with my reaction in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to review of its Internet Sales Tax rulings. Specifically, the court granted a petition for certiorari in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.,, Inc. and Newegg, Inc.

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FCC Revives Its Own Native Advertising Rule: Sponsorship Identification

by Ian D. Volner and Kathleen K. Sheridan on Jan 17, 2018 2:40:45 PM Government Relations


The FCC’s Sponsorship Identification Rule is a close, perhaps neglected cousin of the FTC’s Enforcement Policy Statement on Deceptively Formatted Advertisements, i.e., its Native Advertising Guide. Nevertheless, the FCC’s latest enforcement action demonstrates how failure to follow the rule can result in penalties far larger than any imposed to date by the FTC.

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Multi-Level Marketing in the FTC’s Sights

by Bill McClellan on Jan 11, 2018 3:39:03 PM Government Relations

Over the years working at ERA, I have developed a long standing tradition to start the new year. After returning to work from vacation I keep an extra close eye on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)’s website and announcements to see what they have announced as priorities in the year to come.

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The FTC’s Blurred Lines Report

by Bill McClellan on Jan 4, 2018 4:02:24 PM Government Relations

Sitting here in the Washington D.C. area during this year’s “bomb cyclone” blizzard, I am really looking forward to visiting the warmer climate of Miami, Florida for ERA’s 2018 Great Ideas Summit scheduled for February 26-28 at the Eden Rock Hotel.

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Net Neutrality: From Rules to Enforcement

by Richard P. Lawson and Lisl J. Dunlop on Dec 20, 2017 11:00:43 AM Government Relations

The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic
Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
Electronic Retailing Association.

To say that strong passions have surrounded the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to reverse 2015’s net neutrality rules is putting it mildly.

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Net Neutrality Day for the Direct Response Industry

by Bill McClellan on Dec 13, 2017 11:28:35 AM Government Relations

A while back, I blogged on the pending Net Neutrality action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has announced plans to upend the current FCC Net Neutrality protections finalized in 2015. That effort, slated to start Thursday, December 14, is expected to result in an adverse ruling for our industry.

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A Busy Fall for Direct Response & Government Affairs

by Bill McClellan on Dec 6, 2017 12:11:14 PM Government Relations

It has been a busy fall for ERA’s government affairs efforts! It seems like just yesterday that we were all gathered together as an industry at the D2C show in Las Vegas.

Last week, I was in NYC with the board of directors for a town hall meeting to get industry feedback on our members’ concerns followed by our annual NYC reception. It was a great event and I enjoyed catching up with everyone who was able to make it.

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Net Neutrality is Back

by Bill McClellan on Nov 29, 2017 11:20:43 AM Government Relations

Many of you might remember ERA’s Net Neutrality 'Ninja.' For those who do not, Net Neutrality has been an ongoing battle between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the folks like us - ERA members who use the ISPs’ “pipes” to connect with each other and customers alike. This policy battle has been going on for years. There was a lull in the action during the Obama administration when the FCC codified Net Neutrality principals into FCC regulation. But now it’s back....

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Direct Response Congressional Champion Retiring – What’s Next For Online Sales Tax?

by Bill McClellan on Nov 15, 2017 3:03:15 PM Government Relations

Photo taken from Congressman Bob Goodlatte's Facebook page.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has been a longtime industry friend on a number of issues important to direct response companies. Since 2013, he has served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. In this position, he was a key player in the online sales tax debate where he actively championed legislation that would limit the states’ capacity to tax sales of remote retailers.

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Why Should Direct Response Marketers Care About the CBBB?

by Bill McClellan on Nov 8, 2017 1:39:17 PM Government Relations

For over a century, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) has helped people find businesses, brands, and charities that they can trust. That’s a big idea with a lot of moving parts. To be effective, the CBBB has become an umbrella organization that includes local independent Better Business Bureaus (BBB) and national partner programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.

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Heads Up DRTV: Data Breach Activity Galore

by Bill McClellan on Nov 1, 2017 4:53:02 PM Government Relations

One of the big topics of discussion at ERA’s 2017 D2C Convention in Las Vegas was the growing concern around the recently announced Equifax Data Breach. Both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate agreed with this consensus and have recently held four hearings on the hack featuring Richard Smith, the former Equifax CEO.

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Trump Nominates a New Federal Trade Commission Chairman

by Bill McClellan on Oct 24, 2017 12:09:36 PM Government Relations

Ten months after the Trump Administration took over from President Obama’s team, we finally have a selection for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman seat. Joseph Simons is currently an attorney at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP. He is no stranger to the agency as he has previously lead the Bureau of Competition.

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The FTC's $9.8 Million "Free Trials" Refund

by Bill McClellan on Oct 19, 2017 11:15:46 AM Government Relations

I have just returned from the hugely successful 2017 ERA D2C Convention held at the Wynn Las Vegas. While in our meetings at D2C, there was a lot of conversation about self-regulation and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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Marketplace Vendors Offered Voluntary Closing Agreement Program for State Tax Exposure

by Tammara F. Langlieb and Walter R. Calvert on Oct 10, 2017 12:10:56 PM Government Relations

As states continue their quest to compel online vendors to collect sales and use tax on sales to customers located in the state and to subject such vendors to state income tax, a current trend has been targeting vendors selling via online marketplaces. Some states assert that the presence of inventory held for a vendor or the presence of the marketplace provider/facilitator in a state acting on behalf of a vendor is sufficient nexus or connection of the vendor with the state to subject the vendor to the state’s taxing jurisdiction.

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Managing the Risk of Negative Option Offers and Other Marketing Strategies

by Bill McClellan on Sep 27, 2017 9:01:00 AM Government Relations

At the end of August, I wrote a blog entitled “Advisory: Free Trials, Automatic Renewals & the Road Ahead.” The blog covered how regulators, both state and federal, as well as state legislatures have keyed in on negative option offers and automatic renewals. 

It’s a big deal that isn’t going away anytime soon.

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66 Percent of Americans Oppose the Internet Sales Tax

by Bill McClellan on Sep 20, 2017 3:10:56 PM Government Relations

It has been a super busy summer here at ERA. There has been lots going on at the FTC, with our self-regulation program ERSP, and with Congress (believe it or not).

In preparation for the 2017 ERA D2C Convention at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, I wanted to make sure that you do not forget about the Online Sales Tax issue in all the excitement.

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Trump’s Data Breach Dilemma

by Bill McClellan on Sep 13, 2017 12:01:16 PM Government Relations

Elizabeth Dexheimer and Jesse Hamilton over at Bloomberg just wrote an excellent article on the Equifax hack that I wanted to draw your attention to.

Entitled “Equifax’s Seismic Breach Tests Trump’s Pledge to Dismantle Rules,” it points out an important dilemma facing the Trump Administration with potential ramifications for direct response marketers.

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Checking Up on CAN-SPAM

by Annie H. Lee on Sep 6, 2017 12:40:40 PM Government Relations

Many may not remember this, but there was a time when spam emails ruled the (inbox) world. The content of such emails ranged from irrelevant to inappropriate, subject headings were often misleading, and trying to figure out how to unsubscribe would be like trying to figure out how to avoid Game of Thrones spoilers.

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Advisory: Free Trials, Automatic Renewals & the Road Ahead

by Bill McClellan on Aug 30, 2017 12:01:34 PM Government Relations

Recently, a highly placed source in the “know” forwarded me an excellent blog post from Leslie Fair entitled: FTC uses ROSCA to challenge risky “risk-free trials”. It was the type of back channel message that we sometimes get working on behalf of the industry. The message was clear, this is an issue that is going to get a lot of government attention very soon.

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Good News For Direct Response Marketers: Operation Choke Point is Dead

by Bill McClellan on Aug 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM Government Relations

I have big news to share with you and it is great for the industry. The Justice Department has formally ended its Operation Choke Point efforts. That is a huge win for ERA, the industry, and all of the folks who took a stand against the Department of Justice on this issue over the years.

After extensively blogging on this issue dating back to the summer of 2014, I can tell you that this has been a long time coming. Since that summer, we have blogged on the dangers of Operation Choke Point a total of 24 times.

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A Glimpse Into the Future for Direct Response Marketers

by Bill McClellan on Aug 20, 2017 10:01:00 AM Government Relations

It is a new world with new rules of the road. The future is hazy and unclear. Our fast-paced panel, “A Glimpse Into the Future,” at the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In explored how the changes in government will evolve in our industry and affect your bottom line. So what does the future hold for direct response marketers navigating this new terrain?

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State Consumer Protection and Enforcement in an ERA of Federal Deregulation

by Bill McClellan on Aug 14, 2017 9:52:55 AM Government Relations

As the Trump Administration promises less regulation on businesses, states stand ready to fill any enforcement void left at the federal level. One of the big questions on everyone’s minds at the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In was, what can we expect to see in the next four years?

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Words to the Wise From a State Attorney General to Direct Response Marketers

by Bill McClellan on Jun 22, 2017 9:41:23 AM Advocacy, Government Relations, Consumer

In May, I wrote “The FTC Isn't the Only One Watching Direct Response Marketers.” This still holds true. State attorneys general, such as Karl A. Racine (D-DC), an up-and-coming star in the Democratic Party, and other state regulators are making enforcement waves on direct response marketers. And according to Racine, state attorneys general are ready to lean in on enforcement and step up.

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Direct Marketing and Politics: A Partnership for the Ages

by Bill McClellan on Jun 15, 2017 2:01:53 PM Advocacy, Government Relations

Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) joined us as our legislative keynote speaker on day two of the 2017 Government Affairs Fly-In and his remarks on the current political landscape were inspiring. Strange’s regulatory experience as Alabama’s Attorney General has given him plenty of background knowledge of the direct response industry to take straight into the U.S. Senate.

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Editorial Disclaimer

The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.