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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Jet Into D.C. for the Government Affairs Fly-In 2017

by Bill McClellan on May 10, 2017 11:03:45 AM Advocacy, Government Relations

I am truly excited this year about the Government Affairs Fly-In 2017 and our companion event, the ERSP Summit, which will take place May 23-24 right here in Washington, D.C.!

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A Story about “Big Luther” Strange III

by Bill McClellan on Apr 19, 2017 7:21:11 PM Government Relations

Today it is my honor and privilege to tell you a story about the junior senator from the great state of Alabama. Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) assumed office on February 9th, 2017 after his predecessor Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was nominated by President Trump for the position of the Attorney General of the United States of America. Back home and on the campaign trail, he is also known as “Big Luther” Strange.

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Blow-Back to Colorado’s “Rat Your Customer Out” Remote Sales Tax Law

by Bill McClellan on Apr 12, 2017 10:11:00 AM Advocacy, Government Relations

Back in January I alerted you to how Colorado’s “Rat Your Customer Out” Law would affect marketers. The big picture view is that the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined the review of a case that would require marketers to either collect sales tax on customer purchases in Colorado or report details of the purchase to the state tax collector.

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Do Direct Response Marketers Need Protection from the Phishers?

by Bill McClellan on Mar 29, 2017 2:30:23 PM Government Relations


I recently ran across some new advice from the FTC offering tips for businesses that are impersonated during phishing scams. I hadn’t given much thought to this topic before so imagine many you haven’t either. The FTC contends that computer users are not the only ones harmed by phishing scams. The simple fact is that industry is also the victim of these crimes as well. 

How can you combat these phishers? 

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What Do Direct Response Marketers Need to Know about the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network?

by Bill McClellan on Mar 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM Government Relations

Earlier this month the FTC released its annual summary of consumer complaints from its Consumer Sentinel Network. It also released a new Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book which you can find here. There is a lot that Direct Response marketers should know about this data release and the report itself. It is important to understand that the FTC and other consumer protection enforcers use this report, and the underlying data, as a sort of roadmap for future enforcement activity. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for it every year. It is a great tool to help you understand and predict future trends in the consumer enforcement arena.

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Government Affairs Update from Puerto Rico

by Bill McClellan on Mar 8, 2017 5:00:00 PM Government Relations

Hello and greetings from my balcony overlooking the ocean here at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan. The view is so perfect I knew I had to include a picture of it or you would probably think that my claim was too good to be true. Anyway, it turns out that a little Caribbean vibe is very, very good for an ERA trade show like GIS 2017. First, if you don’t already know, the food in Old San Juan is just excellent. It exceeded every expectation and you have my strongest personal recommendation on that. Second, it is also clear that a little Puerto Rican Rum can serve as a great accelerant. The parties at this show had a little extra energy and island vibe that is impossible to replicate anywhere else in the world.

The education panelists were also just absolutely incredible at this year’s show. I mean people where literally leaving my onsite GA committee meeting early to go hear the speakers. So props and congratulations to the team that worked so hard to bring Dean Gaziosi, Brendon Burchard, Frank Kern, Alex Moore and the other rock star speakers down to visit with us. From now on I am going to make sure my committee meetings don’t conflict with ERA’s education. It’s just hard to compete with celebrities like that.

Thinking back over the week there were some interesting Government Affairs discussions that I want to update you on.

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Will Trump’s Cybersecurity Czar Cost Direct Response?

by Bill McClellan on Mar 1, 2017 3:00:00 PM FTC, Government Relations

Greetings from Puerto Rico! I am currently conferencing here in San Juan at the Caribe Hilton for ERA’s signature Great Ideas Summit 2017.  If you couldn’t make the trip we are sending you good vibes and sunshine and hope you can be with us next time.

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