NOTE: Here is where you can find advertising law information based on news briefs that appeared in past issues of Advertising Compliance Service, "Your Single Essential Advertising Law Resource," during the month of March 1999.
FTC Polices Internet for Violations in Massive Sweep
33 LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS ANNOUNCED
FTC, North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPS), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 27 state Attorneys General, and other state and local law enforcers a nationwide law enforcement sweep of the Internet recently. State and federal officials announced 33 law enforcement actions against 67 defendants allegedly promoting Internet pyramids over the past year. The massive Internet sweep also included what FTC called a two-day Internet "surf" (i.e., surveillance) to seek out sites that may be hosting illegal pyramid schemes. As a result of its surveillance, FTC will send messages to the sites pinpointed in the two-day sweep that pyramid schemes are illegal in the U.S.
FTC and state law enforcement offices have pledged to continue its widespread Internet surveillance and will announce additional actions targeting certain websites in upcoming months. * * *
(FTC Release, March 11, 1999; see Advertising Compliance Service, Tab #15, New Media, Article #61 for remainder of this article.)
FTC has taken an expansive view of its "unfairness" jurisdiction in a recent case involving an advertisement for beer that depicted apparent beer consumption while boating, a safety no-no.
According to FTC, Beck's North America, Inc. disseminated or caused to be disseminated advertisements for Beck's Beer, including TV commercials. These TV commercials depicted several passengers in various places on a sailing boat at sea. On the boat's deck there was a large bucket of ice, filled with bottles of Beck's Beer. "Almost all of the passengers are holding bottles of beer, with one passenger standing precariously on the bowsprit (a spar extending almost horizontally off the bow of the boat), and others sitting on the edge of the bow; no one is wearing a life jacket," according to the Complaint. * * *
NOTE: FTC issues a complaint when it has "reason to believe" that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to FTC that a proceeding is in the public interest. Such action marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be ruled upon after a formal hearing. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be ruled on after a formal hearing.
(Beck's North America, Inc., FTC File No. 982-3092, March 25, 1999; see Advertising Compliance Service, Tab #18, Alcoholic Beverages, Article #34 for remainder of this article.)
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